From SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, October 11, 1999
THE LAST PASS THAT BRETT FAVRE THREW IN HIS 20s MADE grown men cry. Minutes after the Packers' madcap quarterback hit wideout Corey Bradford with a 23-yard scoring dart on fourth-and-one with 12 seconds left to beat the Vikings on Sept. 26, 1999, he met coach Ray Rhodes near the door of Green Bay's locker room. The two wept. "You gotta stop doing this to me!" Rhodes said, hugging Favre after his quarterback's second last-minute, game-winning touchdown pass at Lambeau Field in 15 days. "You're gonna give me a heart attack."
The winning play—a reckless one, some would say, because Favre could have dumped the ball off near the sideline, gotten the first down and gathered his exhausted wits—was called with a hand signal at the line. Afterward Minnesota players wondered why Favre would risk it all instead of going for the first down and living to fight a last battle. But why turn a magician into a mechanic?
Favre turns 30 on Oct. 10, and few signs point to the only three-time MVP in the history of the league being any less of a player in his 30s. "Thirty's just a number," Favre says. "If anything, I move better because I've paid attention to my conditioning. My arm feels as good as ever. I'm much smarter. My first three or four years, I got by slinging it. Now my study of the game is showing. Those two-minute drills aren't luck."
The drive, and particularly the final play, against the Vikings was of the caliber that made John Elway a legend. "I was tired," Favre recalls, "as tired as I'd ever been on the field. I started getting sick before the game with this flu, I was dehydrated, and we were losing. We didn't get the first down the play before, the clock's running, and we're all just walking to the line. Everybody's asking for the play, and I say, 'Just line up!' So the wideouts line up, three on one side, one on the other. My mouth is so dry, I'm spitting cotton balls. I give everybody the signal"—Favre puts his index and middle finger together on each hand and wiggles them—"which means go or quick stop, depending on the coverage. If the receivers get bumped, they go. If they're given room, they stop. It looks like we've got bump-and-run.
"I don't remember saying a word, but the ball's in my hands," he continues. "Later [center] Frankie [Winters] told me that [ Vikings tackle] John Randle called the snap, trying to confuse us. Then I'm thinking, I don't know if my guys know the situation—if I throw short and they don't know to get out-of-bounds, the game's over. The coverage is bump-and-run. I look to the right, at [wideout] Bill Schroeder, pump right to keep the safety there, then turn back. Sure enough, Corey was free. I threw it as hard as I could. Corey got under it. Amazing. We don't really call a play; Minnesota calls our snap count; we win."