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Dan Patrick interviews Brett Favre
The first time I met the pride of Kiln, MS, we were playing in a golf tournament. After a few holes, I told him I knew why his jersey number was four. Get it? Anyway, Brett was good-natured about the ribbing. He just laughed and said, "I'll never look at my number the same way. F-o-r-e." No "NFL MVP" ego that I could see. When I was trying to track Brett down for this interview, I had to look all over for him. I could have sworn he was supposed to call me. As it turns out, he was doing what he often does in the off-season; having some shrimp at his golf club, while he waited for me to call him. Before the interview, his "people" wanted me to fax the questions in advance. Normally, I don't go for that kind of thing. I usually do some research in advance, but I mostly try to have an off-the-cuff interview that reflects the athlete's personality rather than pursue a strict line of inquiry. There aren't many topics that I have lined up in advance. So I faxed over a list of questions that I might ask Brett Favre. Or Cameron
DP: First of all, how would you rate the moustache you're wearing on the cover of your autobiography?
BF: Oh man...I've gotten more grief about my moustache, my sideburns...
DP: I thought you were doing one of those milk ads.
BF: (Laughs.) It does look a lot like that...it's a darn shame.
DP: You look like a porno star.
BF: Dirk Diggler.
DP: If we were playing a pickup game in Kiln, Miss. in somebody's backyard or you were playing a game against the Bears at Lambeau, would your attitude on winning be any different?
BF: No. I enjoy playing whether it's golf or football, whether it's the Super Bowl or preseason. I want to play well no matter what. The stakes for me are the same.
DP: If you don't win another Super Bowl, can you still lay claim to being one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time? Or is the bottom line, for you, measured in championships and nothing else?
BF: I think a lot of it has to do with how many championships you win. And a lot of that has to do with who you play with. A lot of great quarterbacks have never won a Super Bowl, and may never win a Super Bowl, but are still great quarterbacks. I look at it two ways. I think winning championships is important but the most important thing is: How good are you? Can you play? That's the bottom line. I think I've proven it so far.
DP: Did you ever doubt your abilities?
BF: I do every day. I think I do it on purpose. That's what motivates me. Waking up saying, "I don't know if I can do it." And working hard to tell my mind over and over again that I can't do it and working and working and then doing it and going, "See!" It's kind of got me into a pattern, a work ethic, that I never even dreamed I would have.
DP: Do you understand what a defensive player thinks and what he feels and how he acts?
BF: I think so. I think that's what's helped me. I really do. I think my mentality toward the game has enabled me to be a good player. By playing balls out. But quarterbacks are supposed to be different. I was worried about that.
DP: You hate being viewed that way, don't you?
BF: Yeah. I want to go out and I want to kick ass. You tell me what you want me to do and I'll do it. That's the way I play the game. And I always thought that was the way everyone played the game but...apparently not.
DP: Would you cheat to win?
BF: In golf, yeah. (Both laugh.) Just the other day I moved my ball in the rough a little bit. But football, no. It's too important for me. Sure, I could go out and play golf and lose twenty bucks and move my ball in the rough and not worry about it. But in football, I could never do that.
DP: If the public was allowed in the Packers huddle, what would we be surprised about with you?
BF: Probably my approach. The way I'll jokingly approach the game. If you saw me in the huddle during a TV time-out and a song is playing and all of a sudden I'll start singing in the huddle or cracking a joke or doing whatever.
DP: You haven't passed gas in the huddle, have you?
BF: Oh, I tell you what, there was one game this year and I had gas so bad. I had beans the night before and you could smell it at the line. It was awful. It may have helped us that game. (Much raucous laughter.)
DP: How do you keep receivers happy? Because they're always open when they come back to the huddle, aren't they?
BF: I think our guys know ahead of time that I don't care who's catching the passes. I'm throwing to the open guy or whatever my read is. I've lost a lot of receivers throughout the course of a season and we just go on like nothing ever happened. And I don't bitch either. Never bitched at a receiver, never bitched at our running backs, never bitched at our linemen. If I get sacked, I just get up. One of our linemen will say, "Brett, I'm sorry." I say, "Don't worry about it, man." You know, I throw bad passes. I don't want you mad at me when I throw a bad pass.
DP: Are there days when you've gone out on Lambeau Field and just wanted to cry it was so cold?
BF: Yes. There's probably been three games, the Raiders my first year, the Rams my second year, and Carolina in 1997 was just brutal. Really cold. No fun. You couldn't wait to get it over.
DP: Except for winning the Super Bowl, what was the greatest moment you ever had in football no matter what age you were?
BF: One of the most memorable moments was my last game in high school. My dad was my coach. I didn't know what the future was going to hold for me and at that particular time I didn't care. It was like, "I can't believe this is over." You can't wait to graduate and all of a sudden it's there. My dad had coached me forever, too. He coached baseball when I was a little kid. I remember sitting in the locker room just crying before the game even started. Win or lose, I didn't really care. That was a tough moment but it is one that when I'm seventy years old I'll remember.
DP: Is that the last time you cried in regard to football?
BF: No. I'm a tough loser. I really hate to lose. I relate things to golf because I do it every day when I'm not playing football. When I lose, the drive home is not fun. Now imagine football. When we lose to Minnesota in Minnesota, I cry all the way home. I can't even talk to anyone. I work too hard to lose a ball game, that's the way I look at it. Some guys don't approach it that way. It's like, well, I got paid, hell. But I think it's a slap in my face and my family's face to lose. When we lose, I cry.
DP: Are people uncomfortable being around you because they don't know what they can or what they can't talk about with you?
BF: Certain people. Although I think I've surrounded myself with people who don't care who I am and that's important to me. To be able to go out and do something and guys can just go, "Hey, you piece of shit!" I'll laugh at that. I relish that. Instead of pulling a drive 300 yards into the woods and somebody going, "That was a great shot!" That gets old. You know, after a while, you just want to be one of the guys.
DP: If you didn't play anymore, what would you do?
BF: Well, my wife would kill me, but I'd probably play golf every day. Hunt, golf and fish...that's probably it.
DP: If owners really love football, they would what...?
BF: Shorten preseason probably. They need to make money like we do. I understand that. But midway through the season I think, "God, we've still got another half to go?"
DP: If it's not about the money, what is it about?
BF: With me, it's the competition. But I still can't believe we make the money we make to play this game. I love to play but to think that we make all this money is amazing.
DP: I think what struck me was the first time I realized I made more money than my father...
BF: Yeah, isn't that crazy? My Dad, in thirty years of coaching and teaching, never made, altogether, what I make in two weeks. That's scary.
DP: If you could change any rule in pro football...
BF: I've probably got a million of them, but...
DP: Nothing really jumps out? What about "in the grasp"?
BF: Well, it never really bothered me because I'm always moving around and getting out of stuff. There's never been a play where I knew I was going to get out of it but they blew the whistle.
DP: Instant replayyes or no?
BF: Don't care either way. I think it works out either way. It evens out.
DP: All right, free association. Sherm Lewis.
BF: Super guy, excellent coach.
BF: Part of the game.
BF: Once again, part of the game.
DP: John Elway...don't say part of the game!
BF: (Laughs.) Well, he's part of the game. John Elway, good friend and just a great quarterback. I can't say enough about him.
DP: Dallas Cowboys.
BF: My favorite team growing up.
DP: (Laughs.) But did you grow to hate them?
BF: No, I never hated them. I really didn't. They were a pain in my ass, but it was no one's fault but ours. We couldn't beat Ôem Ôcause we weren't worth a shit.
DP: Isn't that difficult, though? Here's a team that you would do anything to play for and now you have to try to beat Ôem and you can't beat Ôem.
BF: Everyone hated them. My wife hated them. Our team hated them. But I look at things pretty realistically. They're kicking our ass but there's no reason for me to hate them.
DP: Binge food.
BF: It's funny you said that...shrimp. Anything to do with shrimp...I gotta eat it. Fried, baked...I mean, I sound like Bubba Gump.
DP: I know you do...you sound like Forrest Gump.
BF: Anything with shrimp, I gotta eat it. And I don't get it in Green Bay, obviously. When I come home, I eat fried shrimp at the club every day.
DP: If you could be another player...
BF: I would like to be Reggie White. I don't understand how he could take a guy fifty pounds heavier than him and throw him that way. That to me is unbelievable. I've seen him do some things that I didn't think were physically possible.