DE PERE - Aaron Rodgers should play to 40 or beyond if he wants to, the Green Bay Packers have a good chance to win the Super Bowl, and being an empty nester will not be fun.
Such is the wit and wisdom of Brett Favre, in De Pere on Wednesday to accept the Distinguished Service Award at the Lee Remmel Sports Awards banquet. The Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback was close to the former Packers historian, who died in 2015, which was why he made the return to Green Bay from his home in Mississippi.
With New England quarterback Tom Brady turning 40 this month, the question was raised about how long the Packers' current quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, should play. Rodgers, 33, has said more than once that he'd like to play until 40, and Favre thinks he could.
"I think we are seeing more of it … but more importantly, I think you are seeing more productive, not just play … but quality," he said. "(Rodgers) moves around as well as anyone in the game right now. Barring any injury, and he knows how to protect himself, there’s no reason he couldn’t play and play at a high level … unless he just doesn’t want to play anymore."
Favre said he's surprised the Packers won only one Super Bowl with Rodgers at the helm, but recalled that Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino went to a Super Bowl his second year in the NFL (they lost) and never went back, though he played 15 years more.
"That in itself tells you how hard it is to do it," said Favre, who won one of two Super Bowls in which he played. "As good as he is, I would have thought they would have won more than one by now. I don’t know if he can do anything else other than what he’s done up to this point.
"It always seems like one piece of the puzzle is missing and you don’t know what that is until you get it, like Reggie White. 'Ah, that’s what we needed.'"
All the pieces seem to be in place and the Packers will score a lot of points, he said. "Defensively, Don Capers, I think he’s excellent at making the defense opportunistic."
Much of the night was the Brett Favre comedy road show, as is his wont. Any question is an invitation for Favre to riff, which he happily does in his down home, dry-sense-of-humor way.
"I got more Lee (Remmel) stories than I probably have of anything," Favre said before the event, during which he reeled off several of them.
He recalled the first time he met Remmel. Favre was sitting alone in the Packers locker room and a older man in a suit and tie came up to him.
"You must be Brett Lorenzo Favre ... the swashbuckling Mississippian," Favre recounted in his best Lee John Remmel voice. "Lee knew everything about the Packers; everything. Really, he knew everything about everything."
Favre grew reflective when talking about daughter Breleigh, who they moved into the dorms at Southern Miss, Favre's alma mater, last weekend.
"The good thing is, she’s close," he said. "It’s tough. For all of us who left home, went to college, whatever, or have had children leave, you try to tell your kids … when you leave the house for good, yeah, you’ll come back … but it’s never the same (as) when you’re in the house full time."
The Favres are expecting their third grandchild at any time, which keeps the house from being entirely empty.
At the end of his speech, Favre called Leo Yelle Jr. up to the stage. Yelle, who is developmentally disabled, worked in the Packers mail room, and Favre were close. The pair talked for several minutes in the press room before the banquet, with Favre promising he'd mention Yelle during his speech.
Favre recalled Yelle telling him, when they played Dallas, "'you're going to lose.' And we did." Yelle also told Packers Coach Mike Holmgren, "You need to call better plays," which tickled Favre most of all.
The Lee Remmel awards are presented by the Rotary Club of De Pere, which donates proceeds to the athletic programs of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, St. Norbert College and local high schools.