The best memories of Brett Favre's playing career aren't the championships and the records, many of which are his only temporarily, but the time spent with teammates, the future Hall of Fame quarterback says.
Favre held court Thursday at the Rawhide Boys Ranch Thanksgiving luncheon. He and moderator Bill Michaels spent about an hour talking about his career.
The event also honored Bart and Cherry Starr, who were original supporters of the home for boys near New London. Starr, who is recovering from a heart attack and two strokes, was not present, but the Hall of Fame quarterback was expected to be on the field Thursday night when Favre's name and number were unveiled on the Lambeau Field facade.
When Cherry Starr said of her husband, "He is going to walk on that field tonight," she received huge applause from the 1,500 present at the KI Convention Center.
No one can tell his stories as well as he can, so here is the (abridged) wit and wisdom of Brett Favre:
• On almost certain election to Pro Football Hall of Fame and other honors: "I never dreamed of the unveiling of my jersey. I never dreamed of the Hall of Fame. I dreamed of playing. The dreams I had as a kid ... mine have come through and then some. That's pretty amazing. I just thought about playing and what that would be like. All the other stuff kind of happened."
• On best memories: "I think about more times where we were in TV timeouts. We were sitting there talking. Of course it was always the linemen; they'd be arguing, we'd be telling jokes. They would be coming up with code words for the next play; none of that ever worked anyway. I just remember those moments. For me, it's not really the individual stuff. It's the group stuff. Plane rides, bus rides, TV time outs, driving down to practice together, picking on the coaches. We just had a lot of not-game-related fun."
"You always know where you stand with your teammates. To me that was so important."
• On confidence: "I thought I was good. I thought I could play. I didn't realize the odds were against me, and that was a good thing ... 'Bring 'em on' was pretty good. When you over-analyze things, for me it was not good."
• On having a tough dad for a coach: "That's how (my dad) taught me toughness: 'If you lay down on the field, I'm never coming to get you.' I don't think it was a plan: 'I'm just going to disregard the bone sticking out of his skin to teach him toughness.'"
• On motivation: "Even when I became the starter, say in college, I was very confident, but also, in some ways, I always felt like I was looking over my shoulder. Every time I came back for training camp, I felt like someone was trying to replace me. Too many times guys get to a point where they are comfortable and they coast. That's when you have to up your work ethic and your discipline."
• On pulling pranks and releasing a stink bomb while meeting with John Madden and Pat Summerall before a game: "I wanted to see how long they would actually go before they said 'something stinks.' Thirty seconds later it's rotten eggs everywhere. All of a sudden, John Madden starts pulling on his collar. He starts choking. He turns red. You could tell he was having an allergic reaction and I'm thinking I just killed him. Before the game I just killed John Madden. I'm thinking 'Am I going to get arrested? I didn't mean to do it. It's just a joke.' Maybe that's why Madden loves me so much."
• On cold weather games: "There was a time, let's say my first 12 years, where I actually would watch the Weather Channel and was hoping for a blizzard. The worse conditions the better. We won those games. I was like 'bring it on.' The latter part of my career — I didn't say this while I was playing — I was like how about 60 and balmy?"
• On Mike Holmgren: "He was a heck of a coach. And yeah he was tough, but he was a perfectionist at a time that I didn't necessarily know what that meant. I give him a lot of credit because he went from coaching Joe Montana and Steve Young, two almost perfect-style quarterbacks, to me. He'd ask 'Why did you make that throw Brett?' and I said 'because I can!'
'I don't want you to do that, but ... good throw!' That was kind of my career."
• On Aaron Rodgers: "I played 20 years and even I never knew what to expect. You kind of know what you are getting with Aaron Rodgers. I never was as good as him. I could throw it. I could throw it with anybody. Everything looks so good the way he does it. I was better at 'you do this, you do that.' The other guys were what do we do? 'Aw, who cares.'
"He's almost too good. With all due respect, it's like, crap, why don't he make a mistake every once in a while? I mean, all my good records are going to be taken and all my bad ones I'm going to keep. As long as you have 12 at quarterback and games yet to play, you have a chance."
• On wanting to speak first at Pro Football Hall of Fame induction: "I'd rather go first because you can always take a bathroom break. They can't stop you. There's no law that says you can't take a three-hour bathroom break (after speaking)."
• On being a sports hero at home: "No one wants to hear around my house what I did. I was pretty good; 'I don't care.' Two nights ago I'm taking out the trash. I was carrying the trash out and I was like 'I'm getting ready to have my jersey retired and here I'm taking out the trash. Oh well.'