Last Friday, NBC's Cris Collinsworth asked Favre what it was like to take a Vicodin during a game. The question angered Favre, who says that not only did he not pop painkillers during games, but also he didn't take them on Fridays or Saturdays during the season. "It's kind of like when I threw 24 interceptions [in 1993], and people said, 'I knew the Packers made a mistake getting him [in a 1992 trade with the Atlanta Falcons],' " Favre says. "Then I come back the next year, and they go, 'Well, he's got good talent around him now.' And now they're saying, 'No wonder he played well last year. He was taking pills.' There's never been a time in my life when people just said, 'You know what, he's just pretty damn good.' "
That, of course, is nonsense. Few active NFL players have been praised as often, or as floridly, as has Favre. But, as Holmgren says, "If that motivates him...."
The angry young quarterback's second scoring pass on Sunday was an eight-yard dart to second-year fullback William Henderson. Remember that name. After scoring his first NFL touchdown, Henderson rumbled toward an enormous bull's-eye beyond the end zone, beside which the words JUMP HERE had been painted. As he obediently Hung himself at the fans, however, Henderson was dismayed to see them scatter.
"They didn't want to catch me," he said. Which proves that some of the Cheese-heads are smarter than they look. Henderson is 6'1", 248 pounds. "I have six-percent body fat," he says. "I'm built for taking people on."
A third-round draft pick out of North Carolina in '95, Henderson was slowed during his rookie season by a knee injury. This summer he beat out Dorsey Levens for the starting fullback spot. His emergence bodes poorly for opposing defenses. To be effective, the West Coast offense requires a fullback who can decleat linebackers but also catch the ball and run with it. That's Henderson. And there he was on Sunday, chopping Chargers linebacker Junior Seau with a textbook cut block that cleared the way for Edgar Bennett's 10-yard first-quarter touchdown run.
Bennett stunned teammates and Packers fans alike in the fourth quarter when he absorbed a savage pop from San Diego free safety Kevin Ross and coughed up the ball. Bennett had not fumbled in 726 carries dating back to his rookie season, 1992. Holmgren, the Maytag repairman of NFL coaches, saw some good in this historic turnover. "It gave me a chance to get the offense together and give them the Knute Rockne treatment," he said. So dominant were his players through the season's first three weeks that Holmgren welcomed opportunities to chew them out.
Favre caught his share of abuse. He threw his first two interceptions of the season on Sunday, although the second one looked more like a fumble. As he cocked his arm to throw, he lost his grip on the ball, which, after floating backward a few feet, was caught by Chargers cornerback Willie Clark. After the game, upon learning that the play had been ruled an interception, Favre began lobbying to have the dubious pick expunged from his record.
When he exited the locker room 45 minutes later, he was still campaigning. "We've got to get that interception changed," he said. "That ticked me off."