GREEN BAY – While Brett Favre might have unretired for a second time and went to the archrival Minnesota Vikings in 2009 to stick it to Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy, the former Packers star quarterback’s decision to play again in 2010 wasn’t driven by his intense competitive nature.
He did it for the money.
At least, that’s what Favre said in the second part of an NFL Network interview with ex-teammate Deion Sanders that aired on Thursday evening.
Favre also said he felt obligated to return for a second season with the Vikings after teammates Steve Hutchinson, Jared Allen and Ryan Longwell lobbied him to come back for one last run after his interception in the waning moments of the 2009 NFC Championship Game helped cost the Vikings a Super Bowl berth.
“The money was too good. The money was too good, and I hate to say it’s about money,” Favre told Sanders. “I felt the money was a lot, but the guys, I kind of felt like even though I knew it was going to be next to impossible [to duplicate the previous season] – I wouldn’t tell them [that] – Sidney [Rice], Jared [Allen], [Steve] Hutchinson and Adrian [Peterson], they were like, ‘Unfinished business.’ I just knew that it probably was finished, but I did feel like if I didn’t try it …”
Favre was magnificent in 2009, completing 363 of 531 passes (68.4 percent) for 4,202 yards with 33 touchdowns and just seven interceptions for a career-best 107.2 passer rating. From Twin Cities TV stations following his arrival by helicopter – including coach Brad Childress infamously chauffeuring him to the Vikings’ Winter Park facility in his black Cadillac Escalade – to Favre’s turn-back-the-clock season, everything went right for Favre and the Vikings until their loss to the eventual Super Bowl-champion Saints in New Orleans.
“Believe me, I didn’t ask for all of the hype that went along with it, the helicopters…I’m shrinking down in my seat going, ‘No one can live up to this. No one,’” Favre said. “Believe me I wanted to come in, go to practice, fly under the radar, no problem. I have my cargos on, t-shirt, probably the same hat [I’m wearing now]. I get off the plane and I’m like, ‘This ain’t good.’ When they stop regular television and tell them you’re coming in, there isn’t but one way to go and that’s down.
“You have to win every game, you have to throw four touchdowns a game – it’s tough. But we go to Cleveland the first game and what I envisioned with Minnesota was exactly what happened in that game: Adrian [Peterson] runs for 180 [yards], I think I threw for 120 yards – really didn’t have to throw a pass. So when I threw it, guys were open; 70 percent [completion rate], 120 yards, one touchdown – no big deal. I’m like, ‘This is why I came.’ You don’t have to work too hard, you don’t have to throw but when we do throw, it’s kind of like, ‘We’re going to keep Brett happy, we’ll let him throw a few but we can just hand it to Adrian.’
“I said, ‘I like this, we’re going to play pretty good defense, we might be onto something here.’”
The following week, Favre threw a game-winning touchdown pass in the closing seconds of a victory at home over San Francisco.
“From that point on, everything went our way,” Favre said. “It was a blast.”
You know the rest: He and the Vikings beat his former team twice, then nearly earned Favre’s third Super Bowl berth. But in 2010, Favre ended up following his best statistical season with his worst: 217 of 358 (60.6 percent) for 2,509 yards with 11 touchdowns and 19 interceptions (69.9 rating). On Thursday night, Favre called the idea of duplicating his 2009 season “impossible,” and recounted the scene when his teammates came to Mississippi to beg him to play another year.
“When they came into the house, I see Bus (agent James “Bus” Cook) standing over there … I have my grandson on my lap and I look over my shoulder and I went, ‘Oh boy,’ because I knew this wasn’t going to end well. And the next morning, I was gone. All the way up we were just talking about what had happened the last year. It was [Ryan] Longwell, Jared [Allen] and [Steve] Hutchinson, and no one ever talked about, ‘This is going to be hard to duplicate.’ But I think we all [were thinking it].”
Favre was also asked about knowing when it was time to retire, and he confessed that he had moments late in his time with the Packers that made him feel like it was time to hang ‘em up.
“It was actually the latter part of Green Bay. There was a time I looked around and no one was left from the [two Super Bowl appearances]. All of the guys were gone, all of the coaches were gone,” Favre told Sanders. “I don’t want to say I felt like I was alone, but I knew that I wanted to as a leader of the team to do everything that I could do. I knew that was tough to lead this team and to play at a high level.
“I would look in the mirror and say, ‘At least they have me and I know what I’m going to give – I’m going to give it all.’ But it sure is tough. You and I both talked about it and we both agree: you just know. And I never got that feeling, obviously. People say that’s because you didn’t win it – no. I won it a long time ago; most people have forgotten that. Would it be nice to win another one? Sure. But it’s this satisfying feeling, and it could be a year where you go 3-13, but you just feel like I’m fulfilled.”
A few other highlights from Part 2 of the interview:
> On if there is anything from his career he would like to do over: “I would say no, but there were games I wish we would have won. But I felt like no one prepared as hard as me. No one played with the passion [I played with].”
> On if the perception people have that he was just ‘winging it’ during games bothers him: “It does, but for the most part it doesn’t because I played 20 years [and had] a lot of success. I guess the only thing that someone could say is he should have won more Super Bowls. What else can they say? He could have thrown more touchdowns, he could have thrown less interceptions – my interception rate is pretty low. That came at a time when everyone was watching. But the do-overs, if I felt like if I would have studied a little bit more or I would have prepared for this more, then I would feel bad. I was ready and I just turned it loose.”
> On if he has that closure now: “Yeah. I probably knew when I got off the plane [in 2010] – I didn’t have to play a down. Now, that’s not to say I didn’t give my all. It just wasn’t to be, and I think I knew that. I really know it now.”
> On if he is at peace: “Yeah. As I look back at my career, there is nothing I wish I would have done. I played with a lot of great players, a lot of great guys. You and I still tell stories; [in] 1991, you took me shopping as soon as I see you. That’s what it’s all about. I don’t talk to too many guys and we talk about, ‘Remember that one play?’ It’s never about that. It’s the guys, and I’ve met a lot of them; a lot of good ones, played with a lot of great ones. I hold no regrets.”
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