Finding it harder than ever to leave Mississippi each year, Brett Favre is starting to seriously ponder retirement
On the day Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre had to leave his beloved house and 460 acres in Hattiesburg, Miss., to report to training camp by 7 p.m., he began to think this might be his last camp. As a private plane stood by at a nearby airstrip for the 2�-hour flight to Green Bay, he was sweating a stream while edging a mile of his property where it meets the road, refusing to leave until the job was done. He finished just after noon and jetted off, reluctantly, at two.
"I think about retirement a heck of a lot more than I used to," Favre said last Thursday night in Green Bay. "I miss home. I know it's nuts, but [coach] Mike Sherman told us today he was giving us Saturday and Sunday off this week, and the guys were all excited. All I could think was, I wish I could be on my lawn mower back home."
Favre's homesickness should probably be of little concern to the Packers, whose prospects are the brightest they've been since back-to-back Super Bowl appearances in 1997 and '98. Second-year wideout Robert Ferguson told Favre last week that even though the quarterback had been in the league forever (this is his 12th season, actually), he still works like a rookie. Said Sherman, "The way he competes in practice sets the bar incredibly high for the rest of the players."
Favre turns 33 next month. He has a Super Bowl ring, three MVP awards, a top 10 standing in every major statistical category for quarterbacks and the record for most consecutive starts (157) by one. For the first time in several summers, he has no pain anywhere. He is 14 touchdown passes from leapfrogging John Elway (300) into third place on the alltime list. It's conceivable that if Favre were to play five or six more years, he'd break every big quarterback record.
"People tell me, You could shatter this record, that record," says Favre. "Shoot, if I thought like that, I'd be playing for the wrong reason. I don't play football to pass Dan Marino. I play to compete and win. That's why I've been successful. If I were basking in what I've done, there'd be a lot to bask in. But I don't care. When the season's over, it's over. I don't golf and talk football. Never."
Favre still likes his job, and he talks excitedly about piloting a very good team with some new weapons. Gone are receivers Bill Schroeder and Antonio Freeman, who accounted for 105 catches and 15 touchdowns last year. In are former Patriots malcontent Terry Glenn and silky first-round pick Javon Walker, who's destined to be a star. "I think we're as good as we were in our Super Bowl years," Favre says. "You know how this league is. We could win the Super Bowl again, or we could go 8-8. But I do think this year we've got a real chance to win it all."
Favre enters this season thinking there will probably be a 13th, but after that, who knows? He doesn't. And he's not going to worry about it until he's back on the tractor next winter in Hattiesburg.
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Some rookie receivers dream of following in the footsteps of Jerry Rice. Antwaan Randle El dreams of following in those of Corey Patterson, centerfielder for the woebegone Chicago Cubs.