GREEN BAY – If Brett Favre had his druthers, there would be one man and one man only presenting him for his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame next month.
Irvin Favre, who died in 2003 at 58 years old, was the driving force behind one of the most remarkable careers in NFL history.
Their close bond dated back to their time together at Hancock North Central High School in Kiln, Miss., where Irvin was the football coach and Brett was the star quarterback in a wishbone offense.
The night after Irvin’s death, Favre threw for 399 yards and four touchdowns as the Packers cruised in a 41-7 win over Oakland on Monday Night Football.
A fan vote recently selected the game to be one of three full-length contests that the NFL will upload onto YouTube before the start of the 2016 season.
“My dad would have been, he definitely would have been doing it,” said Favre, whose actual presenter will be announced by the Pro Football Hall of Fame next week. “And I’ll talk about that during the induction. … Had he been around, he would be doing it.”
Favre’s 20-year NFL career was as improbable as it was extraordinary. He recalled during a national conference call Tuesday how many NFL teams weren’t going to touch him after he injured his hip during the East-West Shrine Game.
The future three-time MVP quarterback was then diagnosed with avascular necrosis, which is where bone tissue deteriorates due to lack of blood circulation.
The Atlanta Falcons drafted him regardless in 1991 before agreeing to trade him to Green Bay for a first-round pick the following year.
The Packers’ team doctors initially failed Favre during his physical due to the hip, but general manager Ron Wolf stepped in and told them to pass Favre anyway.
The two have been tied together ever since.
“The doctors said he could play five or seven — then again, he may not. And that’s not taking into account how you play on the field,” Favre said. “The debt of gratitude, with or without that scenario, is forever payable. I’ve told Ron that over and over again. In fact, had a conversation with him last night. We’re both always so thankful to each other. You’d think we’d get over that at some point.
“It’s really a wonderful story. In his case, sticking your neck out there at a time when you just got a new job at a historic and traditional franchise like the Packers, boy, what a gamble. I’m forever thankful for that and I know he has said over and over to me how thankful he is that it worked out, obviously.”
In addition to his on-field achievements, Favre also gained the reputation for being a practical joker during his 16 seasons in Green Bay. While he never tried to hurt anyone with his jests, Favre recalled one of his favorite winter pastimes.
It entailed unlocking a teammate’s car and driving to the other end of the players’ gated parking lot. Once parked, Favre would crank the air conditioning up and then pour a glass of water on the outside handle.
“It couldn’t open,” Favre said of the frozen door. “When they finally were able to get in, it would be – as you could imagine – it’s 30 degrees, 0 degrees, whatever outside and it was even cooler inside. That was a cruel prank though in Green Bay.”
Fittingly, Favre will be entering the Pro Football Hall of Fame one year after Wolf was inducted as a contributor.
For Favre, playing football never was about the accolades or records. He didn’t want to be touted as the greatest to ever play the game or possessing the strongest arm – he just wanted to have fun.
In the process, he brought the Lombardi Trophy back to Green Bay during Super Bowl XXXI and reinvigorated the most decorated franchise in NFL history.
“I was a daydreamer, I was a devoted hard worker to my dreams,” Favre said. “I was determined that I was going to be Roger Staubach someday and I was going to play for the Dallas Cowboys and nothing was going to stop me. And I say that because I never, never dreamed of Pro Bowls, MVPs, quite frankly games, how many I would play.
“In other words statistical stuff and the Hall of Fame, I never dreamed of that. I just dreamed to play. So I can sit here and honestly say that every dream I had as a child, day dream, night dream, it didn’t matter, came true. And for that, I’m forever thankful. I mean, wow. Who can say that?”