From SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, October 5, 1992
THERE'S NO BETTER PLACE FOR A FOOTBALL LEGEND TO BEGIN than at Lambeau Field on an autumn afternoon. And there's no better time than now. The premier quarterbacks of this era, the Montanas and the Moons, are going gracefully into their golden years, and the NFL needs some new talent with fresh charisma to put on the season-ticket brochures. Quarterbacks sell, baby. That's why the Pittsburgh Steelers—Green Bay Packers game on Sept. 27 was a match made for NFL Properties. On one side of Lambeau Field stood 6' 3", 228-pound Neil O'Donnell, 26, trying to resuscitate the dormant Steelers empire. On the other was baby-faced 6' 2", 220-pound Brett Favre, trying to become the next Bart Starr.
For the second time in eight days Favre (rhymes with carve) stole the show, leading the Packers to victory and evening their record at 2-2. On Sept. 20, trailing the Cincinnati Bengals 23-17, Green Bay had the ball on its eight, with 1:07 to play and no timeouts. Favre drove the Packers the 92 yards for the winning score, throwing a picture-perfect 35-yard touchdown pass to wideout Kitrick Taylor with 13 seconds left.
Against Pittsburgh, Favre lofted another perfect pass, this time a 76-yard bomb to wideout Sterling Sharpe for a TD and a 10-3 halftime lead. Early in the fourth quarter, with Green Bay at the Steelers' eight, the Packers called a play in which wideout Robert Brooks would fake a slant-in and then fade toward the right corner of the end zone. "Remember," coach Mike Holmgren told Favre on the sideline, "you've really got to like it to throw it. It has to be there."
Later Holmgren would say, "I had to tell him that because Brett has a wild hair. Last week, after our win, I congratulated him and then told him he'd made mistakes on 25 plays. I told him if we had lost, the quarterback would have been the reason." Suitably warned, Favre took the snap, pump-faked to Brooks on the slant-in and then rainbowed the pass to Brooks in the end zone. Packers win 17-3.
This season a handful of teams have shoved inexperienced quarterbacks to the forefront, giving them a shot at becoming the big guns of the future. Favre is the rawest talent and maybe the most promising.
Reining in Favre's enthusiasm may be Holmgren's biggest task. After the winning drive against the Bengals, Favre ran off the field jumping and screaming as if he'd won the lottery. The game, however, was only tied, at 23; he was supposed to hold for the extra point. With the play clock running down, kicker Chris Jacke grabbed Favre and shouted, "Focus! We've got to kick the extra point!"
"I've got a lot to learn," says Favre.