CANTON, Ohio - Brett Favre thinks he wouldn’t have made it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame if not for the strong freewheeling streak in his game.
Favre, whose induction ceremony into the Hall is Saturday night, ranks second in NFL history in touchdown passes (508), but his high-risk approach also contributed to his ranking as the all-time leader for most interceptions thrown (336).
“As I got wiser, and I don’t want to say I was some guru, but part of me died when I started using my brains more than my talent,” Favre said at his Hall of Fame news conference Friday. “Now in Year 18 I’m not as talented as I was in Year 2. But I was much smarter, and I think that served me well at times. But I still could throw it. I wasn’t going to rush for 100 yards in any season, but being naïve served me well.
“I remember early in my career we’d play, say, Dallas, who was nearly unbeatable, and I thought, ‘What’s the big deal? We can beat’em.’ In the latter part of my career when we’d play a team that was nearly unbeatable I may give the impression, ‘We got’em.’ (But) I’m thinking to myself, ‘We don’t stand a chance.’ Then I started realizing why coaches were good coaches. Then I’m like, ‘I wonder if (Mike) Holmgren really meant it when he said we could beat Dallas when he told us that?’”
Favre also thinks his high school and college careers helped him in the NFL even though both featured unsophisticated passing games. In high school in Mississippi his father, Irvin, was head coach and ran a wishbone offense in which his favorite play was a toss on which Brett would become the lead blocker. Favre’s offense at Southern Mississippi was based on the option.
Yet, even though Favre was unschooled in the passing game when he entered the league, he was maybe the ultimate playmaker at quarterback.
“The way I played in college, which was kind of make something out of nothing, it served me well as I was learning (in the NFL), making plays out of nothing,” Favre said. “When other guys were throwing the ball away – and did some (throws) get me in trouble? Yeah. But more times than not, it was like, ‘Don’t do it, don’t do it, oh, glad you did it’ type of thing. But that’s the way I always played. Part of my lack of knowledge was a big part of my success with the talent. I had no fear.”
Favre also said his arm strength was the physical attribute that most made him what he was.
“I was throwing the ball about 80 yards (in high school),” he said. “Does that mean you can play pro football? No. But it sure is a good start, a good eye-opener. ... I can make any throw. Not a lot of people knew that until I played against you. I think that ability in itself is a good starting point.
“… I didn’t know what reading a defense was until my first meeting in Green Bay in the West Coast offense because if you go back to Atlanta it was run-and-shoot and there’s no reading involved. Half roll, throw it. They threw it a bunch, but there was no reading the weakside blitz, we go hot, change the protection, all this stuff. All that was new to me. My motto (early on with the Packers) was, ‘I have no idea what they’re talking about, but I’ll throw it to everybody.’ That carried me for a few years as I was learning the system.”
BRETT FAVRE HALL OF FAME FACTS
What: Former Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
When: The ceremony will begin at 6 p.m. Central time Saturday. Favre will be the last of the eight inductees to be presented, meaning he may not begin his speech until after 9 p.m. Here’s the full order in which the inductees will be honored: Marvin Harrison, Orlando Pace, Dick Stanfel, Kevin Greene, Ken Stabler, Edward DeBartolo Jr., Tony Dungy and Favre.
How to watch: The induction ceremony will be televised live on ESPN and NFL Network.