10 favorite Brett Favre pop culture moments
Brett Favre will be inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame on Saturday for his greatness on the field during a 20-year NFL career, but aside from all the thrilling fourth-quarter comebacks and touchdown passes, Favre often was equally entertaining off the field, too.
In honor of the return of No. 4 to Lambeau Field, a look back at 10 favorite pop culture moments he threw our way here in Green Bay.
1. Favre as bartender. McSwiggin's, the dance-on-top-of-the-bar tavern on Green Bay's Main Street, was a hot spot for Packers players in the early '90s — Favre included. Stop in on any given night and you might find him guest bartending.
Chris Hansen, who owned the bar with Boyd Konowalski, said Favre was "very approachable, a nice guy, just friendly to everybody." In those days, Hansen said, where the Packers players went, the women would follow. That included Knights on Main next door.
Seeing your friendly NFL quarterback slinging drinks was no big deal back then, never causing much of a fuss in the pre-social media era, Hansen said. "Green Bay doesn't know ... from '92 to '93, that team was a lot of fun. ... Those two years were the best two years I had in the bar business."
2. Favre as Halloween prankster. Like that last bite-size Snickers that shows up weeks after all the other trick-or-treat candy is gone, the YouTube video of Favre, Don Beebe and Frank Winters pulling one over on coach Mike Holmgren in the mid-'90s seems to resurface each Halloween.
The three Packers are wearing masks when they show up a the house of "the big boss" with a group of children for trick-or-treating. The coach apologizes profusely to the kids that he's run out of candy before he finally realizes who the big kids are behind them.
His response: "Oh, gee whiz ..." Laughter ensues. An age-old Halloween prank made more endearing in the 20 years since, if only as a reminder of how much things in the NFL have changed between then and now. Somehow we just can't quite picture Aaron Rodgers & Co. pulling the same stunt at Mike McCarthy's house.
3. Favre as Tim McGraw's buddy. The gunslinger and the "Shotgun Rider" singer have been longtime pals. If you need a reminder how far back they go, remember the 1999 concert McGraw played in The Stadium View Bar & Grille parking lot?
When he was done he popped over to the nearby Brett Favre's Steakhouse and sat in with a local country band. When McGraw returned to Green Bay in 2004 for back-to-back nights at the Resch Center to tape a live concert special for NBC, Favre showed up onstage to toss footballs into the crowd during the song "Real Good Man."
McGraw would later confess it took some major arm twisting to get the quarterback to appear. "He was scared I was going to make him sing, so he waited until the last minute to get there to make sure I wouldn't," McGraw said.
4. Favre as musical inspiration. Favre's affinity for country music made him an easy fit in Northeastern Wisconsin, where the genre looms large on the radio, at festivals and on the touring circuit.
Fans have him to thank — or blame, depending on how you feel about lyrics like "early to rise, early in the sack" — for earning John Denver's "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" a longtime spot on the Lambeau Field playlist. Favre also inspired novelty tunes like Eddy J's "Brett Favre Boogie'' and "We Love Brett Favre'' by Elroy & The Diehards.
Earlier this year, Minnesota-based touring duo Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank released a heartfelt ode to Favre with "Old Number Four" off its "American Shuffle" album.
5. Favre as movie star. Nobody's going to confuse him with an Oscar nominee, but hey, he did get to deliver this memorable line from his cameo in 1998 Farrelly brothers comedy "There's Something About Mary": "I'm in town to play the Dolphins, you dumba--."
Too bad Peter and Bobby Farrelly had to go burst our Titletown-Tinseltown bubble last year when they revealed Favre was actually their third choice to play Cameron Diaz's ex-boyriend, after Drew Bledsoe and Steve Young turned them down.
And ... let's not forget Favre's other big movie credit, playing a janitor in 1996's "Reggie's Prayer," a drama that starred Packers defensive end Reggie White as a high school football coach who helps a troubled student.
It was a star-studded cast, to say the least: Pat Morita, MC Hammer and Mike Holmgren (also as a janitor).
6. Favre as restaurant owner. Brett Favre's Steakhouse opened on Oct. 29, 1998, at 1004 Brett Favre Pass, Ashwaubenon, and has been a dining, celebrity hobnobbing, game-day tailgating and selfie-snapping destination ever since.
Even back when Favre was still in Green Bay, fans were more likely to spot No. 4 in the murals, photos and magazine covers on the walls than they were carving up Brett's Cut (20 ounces of prime rib) or chowing down on a Brett Burger (two 10-ounce patties with cheese).
Cajun jambalaya made from a Favre family secret recipe remains a signature dish. The list of famous fans who have stopped in is a long one, from Kid Rock to Bobby Flay. It ranked No. 13 on a 2013 list from USA Today on the best athlete-owned restaurants in the country.
No surprise, it will host a tailgate party from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday for Favre's induction.
7. Favre as John Madden's favorite topic. It's no secret how much John Madden loved to gush about Favre as an NFL color commentator. A soundbite sampler platter from the man who helped the turducken go viral:
"That's why Brett Favre is Brett Favre." "He's the darnedest guy I've ever seen." In a dictionary when you have the word competitor ..." It became such a thing that when comedian Frank Caliendo did his Madden impersonation, he would do Madden talking Favre.
It went over big, especially in Titletown. "In Green Bay, I could probably do Brett Favre stuff for two hours," Caliendo said.
8. Favres as reality show family. Before there were the Robertsons of West Monroe, La., on "Duck Dynasty," there were the Favres of Kiln, Miss. Packers fans got to know the whole cast of colorful characters during Favre's time in Green Bay.
Dad Big Irv was often spotted in the Stadium District on home game weekends, and mom Bonita shared Cajun-Creole recipes in the "Favre Family Cookbook." We knew brother Jeff was the co-owner of his own Mississippi bar, the Broke Spoke North.
Fans followed them through Super Bowl wins and losses, Favre's painkiller addiction, wife Deanna's battle with breast cancer, the devastation back home after Hurricane Katrina, various brushes with the law and the death of Big Irv in 2003 at age 58.
They proved to be perfect pre-reality TV fare — genuine, funny, tough, not afraid to say what was on their minds and all with a great drawl.
9. Favre as host to Kenny Chesney and crew. Country superstar Kenny Chesney had never met Favre before he asked him to be in 2010's "Boys of Fall," a 90-minute documentary inspired by his song of the same name about small-town football.
He flew down to Hattiesburg, Miss., to talk to Favre on camera about growing up with his father as his coach. Here's what happened next — off camera — as told by Chesney in an interview with the Press-Gazette:
"I texted him and said that we had just landed. He said, 'Call me when you're close.' And I said, with my country humor, 'Well, what's for dinner?' And I didn't get anything back. I said, 'Oh my God, I made Brett Favre mad.' He doesn't know my personality or anything. I texted him back after about 10 minutes and said that I was just kidding, and I still didn't hear nothing.
"So I interviewed him for about an hour and a half at his house outside at his pool, and when we were done — and there were about 25 of us in the film crew — he goes, 'You boys come on in here.' We went into the house, and the reason he didn't text me back was he had driven down the street and got barbecue, dessert ... and he fed all of us. ...
"All of a sudden we're at Brett Favre's home with his family eating, almost like we were at Thanksgiving dinner. He and I are gonna be friends forever now because of this song and the film and the kind of person he is."
10. Favre as Wranglers pitchman. You know your TV commercial has made it into the pop culture lexicon when "Saturday Night Live" spoofs it. Favre's spot for Wrangler Five Star Premium Denim jeans became, in the wake of his 2010 sexting scandal after leaving the Packers, a humorous take on Wrangler Open Fly Jeans, with Jason Sudeikis donning No. 4 and throwing around the football in "the first jeans with no fly whatsoever."