MICHAEL SIGNORA: Thank you all for joining us today. We have Brett Favre on the line with us from Green Bay. Just a note to media before we begin: Brett has been named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week for his 359 yard, three touchdown passing performance against the Bears on Monday night. We'll begin the call with questions from the New England Patriots media room.
Q: Congratulations on your 40,000 yards.
BF: Thank you.
Q: How are you able to play every week? How have you been able to perform? I am sure you have been plenty sore many times but you have an incredible record of performance and 162 consecutive starts.
BF: I've been lucky. I'd say determination is one. Don't get me wrong, there have been times where injuries could have kept me out and there have been times when maybe injuries should have kept me out. But my mom always said I was always hard?headed, and I've just wanted to play. I think there are times for guys across the league who sit out who maybe could play. And what may keep me out may not keep the next guy out and vice versa.
I think a lot of luck is involved because the way I play the game and the hits that I have taken, to be able to play every week, you have to be somewhat lucky and physically durable. But more so than that, mentally you have to be durable. You have to be able to get up after a game and say, hey, yeah, I do hurt and something bothers me but I'm going to play this week. You can always will yourself to do things.
Q: What is the worst injury you have played through?
BF: I don't know if there's one particular injury. There have been several. The elbow tendonitis I had three years ago kept me out of three preseason games. Had that been the regular season, I would have missed games. I couldn't even lift a can of soda, that's how bad it was.
But the first game of the regular season that year was against the Jets, and I did play and it was really a game time decision. I tried to practice a little bit during the week with a little bit of pain. I just basically didn't practice and waited until Sunday and played.
I had a thumb injury that bothered me the entire year and I probably should have sat out two or three games just to give it a chance to heal but didn't. It affected my play.
The ankle injury I had received against Minnesota at Minnesota, the following week I played against Chicago here, but I was almost playing in a cast. My ankle was just so black and blue I had no range of motion in it. So those are the three that were probably the worst.
Q: Is it a situation when you have a record like you have, 162 straight starts, you want to play no matter what because you want to keep it going?
BF: The streaks never come to mind. In fact, and if you really go back and evaluate past performances by quarterbacks and passing records, there was never a record of consecutive starts by a quarterback. Had it not been for the head of our PR Department, Lee Remmel, really researching the record, there would not be one we would know about. I think Ron Jaworski had 112 starts or something like that, and Lee, head of PR here, he comes up with records every week, like most consecutive practices not missed. You name it, Lee has it. Believe me, I'd never even thought of a consecutive start record. When I got close to Ron's number, then it started surfacing. People started asking me how I felt about passing Ron. I was like, well, I guess it's great if you are asking me about it. But I didn't look at it as a big deal. I think it's great that I have been able to play for this long period of time without missing. I think that's great. But you know, really it's no different than passing for 40,000 yards.
Yes, it is a great accomplishment. But in the end, all records are meant to be broken and that's the only reason people keep track of them. There have been times where I probably should have sat out but it hasn't been because of a consecutive start record.
Q: You have had a different cast of characters over this period of time. Now you have Terry Glenn and Donald Driver, Ahman Green obviously as your back, can you talk a little bit about adjusting that quickly to Terry Glenn, for instance?
BF: Well, from day one when I first arrived here in Green Bay in 1992 it has been an adjustment process year in and year out. If you look at the guys that I played with: Sterling Sharpe, Robert Brooks, and Antonio Freeman, Mark Chmura, Keith Jackson, Dorsey Levens, Edgar Bennett, Ahman Green, now Terry Glenn, Bill Schroeder, Donald Driver, obviously this year is a totally new cast of receivers. It hasn't been real easy, the adjustment process, but it hasn't been easy before either. But the guys I am throwing to have made it easy because they have worked hard. Terry has been fun to work with. We haven't really kept up with what went on in the past. We have heard about it. It has been brought up, but Terry has been nothing but great for us and so have the other guys.
Part of a starting quarterback's job is to be able to adjust to any scenario, any player. They paid me a lot of money to do that. Excuses are not part of our agenda here, and it has worked out well so far. We have a ways to go, but we have gotten better each week.
Q: Is there any difference anymore between playing an AFC team vs. an NFC team?
BF: I don't think there's a difference. And if there is, I don't know what it is. Football is football. I don't see how it is different here because football is football. From a player's perspective, whether it's Green Bay; whether it's New England it doesn't matter, it's football. That's the bottom line.
Q: Obviously the storyline that always follows the Patriots is that Bill Belichick is a defensive genius and he can get into quarterback's mind. Do you believe there is such a thing as a defensive coordinator being able to be clever enough to get into a quarterback's mind?
BF: I don't know if there's any truth to being able to get into a quarterback's mind. But I think there is truth to understanding the player that you are going up against, whether it be quarterback, receiver, running back, and really knowing what that guy does well, knowing his strengths as well as his weakness, and using that to your team's advantage. There's no question that Bill Belichick is maybe the best defensive mind in the league. You don't do what he did last year by luck. He's a damn good coach. I have played against him for many years and have a lot of respect for him. Whether or not he can get into my mind, you know, I don't know if that's true because even I can't get in there. (Laughter).
But there is some truth to him being a helluva defensive coordinator, I will say that.
Q: A lot of quarterbacks lose confidence if they throw interceptions, they go into a bit of a shell. That doesn't ever seem to happen to you. Why is that and could you talk about what might be the weakest part of your game?
BF: If you know my history and where I came from, my rise to stardom, or whatever you want to call it, then you would understand how I approach games and how I approach positive things as well as negative things. I understand that along with the good comes the bad. How you handle both, and I learned at a young age how you handle both, is important. How you handle the positive, the great things that happen to you, the great things that are said about you, how you handle those is more of a factor than how you handle the negative.
From day one, and it hasn't always been rosey and it hasn't always been great for me, but I used to hear my dad say, Mike Holmgren say, or even my head coach at Southern Miss, say that anyone can play when things are going good, when good things are said about him. And we have all heard that, but how you react to negative things is obviously an important factor.
But I learned that after you throw a touchdown pass ? and this was just over a period of time, I would throw a touchdown pass early in my career and would get so excited, would celebrate so much and be jumping around that it would affect me the next drive. I was still kind of basking in what I had just done; it would end up in something bad or a three and out the next time. I had to learn that after something good let it go. If you win a big game and you are still basking it in it the next week, you end up losing.
As much as an interception hurts and as much as you feel like you let the team down, let it go and just go on. A tough loss is a tough loss. You have got to come back and I just kind of treat both of them, believe it or not, equally. I know that may sound strange to people, but I am on an even keel out there now.
Yes, I am excited after a touchdown or I am excited after a big play or after a big win, but you have to come right back and how you handle that is very crucial.
My weaknesses, I have lots of them. But to pinpoint one, I don't know. I think we all have weaknesses and I guess that's for Bill Belichick to figure out. You always hear that teams have a formula to stop Brett Favre. Hey, if it works, it works, but the way I approach the game, regardless of who we are playing, regardless of the status of where that team stands in the division or how big our fans treat that game, it doesn't matter to me. I am going to play the same way every time. I will take chances. I will roll the dice and that may be my weakness at times. But I don't concern myself with that too much.
Q: You were kind of in cruise control Monday night, particularly in that first half. Have you ever been in a zone like that for that an extended period of time? If you had been on a golf course, how many 30?footers would you have made?
BF: I would have liked to have been on a golf course, as hot as we were.
That was about as good a first half as I have had. But believe it or not, personally, I didn't feel like it was anything that I was doing. I was throwing the ball, the guys were catching it, making plays. That was the big difference. 300 yards in one half is ?? I mean, I have gone eight quarters before and not thrown 300 yards, so yeah, people ?? even my wife when I got home -- said, man, you were on fire. I said well, I wouldn't say that. I mean, I was doing what I'd like to think I always do. Guys are making plays and the talent we have at receiver, I think was evident the other day. I just hope we continue to get better.
Q: How would you compare Brian Urlacher and Ray Lewis?
BF: Brian is getting nothing but better. I am sure he'd be the first to say there's always room for improvement. But I don't know if there's much room left. The guy is a great player. He runs to the ball as well as any player that we play against.
And a true sign of a great football player is how often they are around the ball or how often they are making the tackle. And I am willing to bet that just about every play, aside from deep passes, he is always around the ball. That's what a middle linebacker is asked to do and he does it as well as any. To compare him to Ray Lewis, I think it is a little unfair for both guys because they are both great. The only difference, I think ? and it's not a positive or negative for either one because they are both great football players. But the only difference I can say is Ray Lewis is probably a little bit more physical, and Brian is a little more elusive, a quicker guy, but both of them are great. Don't get me wrong, Urlacher can be physical and Ray Lewis can cover the field. But if there was a comparison or a difference at all, that would be the difference.
Q: Seems like there has been a lot of speculation with how much longer you are going to play the game. What are your thoughts on that these days? How many more years do you see yourself still doing that?
BF: I don't know. I am to a point where I do think about retirement. I think it's only fair and in saying that, I know some people say "retirement?" I don't want them to get the wrong impression. This is 12 years for me and as me and my wife were talking last night, she was telling me about what they were saying during the telecast Monday night about how I can play until I am 40. I don't know, because there's a lot of factors that go into it: injury, the way I am playing or the way I am not playing, how the team is doing as well. Money is always a factor, if I am not playing up to par, they could always ask you to take a pay cut; they can always cut you or trade you. Yes, I don't foresee that happening but, hey, Joe Montana was traded. No one is in concrete in this league.
So as I was telling my wife last night, I said look, one thing that I know for sure is that I am playing well right now and the obvious talk around is we don't want you to retire. Well it is easy for them to say that when you are playing well. I don't ever want to get to a point where I am not playing well and that in itself forces me out.
I would love to go out on top and on top doesn't necessarily mean Super Bowl. But you want to go out ?? everyone would love to go out with a Super Bowl and the chances of that happening are slim, and I am talking about for everyone.
I have already won one. I know what it feels like. I would love to win another one but if that doesn't happen I still would love to go out playing, at least in my mind, the best football that I could play. That everyone will say, well, why not come back. Well, it's easy to say that but what if you come back and your better days are behind you; we see that happening every year with somebody. I don't want to be one of those players.
I mean, 12 years is a long time and I am happy I have played well, making good decisions, helping our team win, but at some point either injury or lack of performance will step in and I just hope that I will leave the game before that happens. And when that will be, I don't know. I hope I know that before it happens.
Q: Do you think you are in that same category of quarterback as Joe Montana?
BF: As I have told people the last couple of years, I am not even going to go there. I will let other people decide that. I have always considered Joe Montana the best quarterback that ever played the game. I think I always will consider Joe Montana the best quarterback to ever play the game. I have seen some great ones play.
I never saw Johnny Unitas play, it was before my time. There are enough people that say he was the greatest, so those are the two greatest to ever play. I don't think I will ever question that. Steve Young, one of the greatest quarterbacks I have ever seen play. Dan Marino, one of the greatest. I am just pleased to be mentioned in the same breath as those guys and I think as long as I am humble and people look at it that way, then I will be fine. I will let other people judge where they think I fit because in 20 years it really doesn't matter anyway. There will be other guys to come along and play and that's fine. I am just glad that I am still playing and playing at a high level. I will leave all that other stuff to the experts.
Q: Do you have any favorite game to remember over the years?
BF: There are a lot. There's been a lot of great games. Obviously you have to throw the Super Bowl that we won at the top because that's the pinnacle of any player's career. I have been fortunate to play in one, but there's an endless amount of games.
Q: Are you surprised at how long it has taken Mike Holmgren in Seattle to kind of get things going and what do you say to people that say he's lost his touch a little bit?
BF: Obviously I know what's happened with Mike since he has been up there but it is hard for me to comment because of injuries and stuff that's happened in Seattle. I know that they have been trying to get a stadium and I mean, it's just been a lot of outside factors that can go into winning or not winning. But I will say this to the people up there, and this is the God's honest truth – Mike Holmgren has meant so much to my career and to the Packers' success today that I would never question what type of coach, what type of man, Mike Holmgren is.
I have a tremendous amount of respect for him and if people have to know that I am not saying this for any personal well-being. I get nothing out of it. Mike Holmgren is gone. He's out of my career now and he's off coaching somewhere else. With that in mind, he's still probably the greatest coach that I have ever played under and meant so much to my success back then, and even today. There's not a day that goes by where Mike Holmgren doesn't come into my head when it comes to football. He's just a great coach and a great man and I know without him in the early part of my career, I won't be here today. I think that says a lot. I won't give up on him yet.
Q: What particular thing do you like about Donald Driver that's made him your go?to guy this year?
BF: Everything. Everything. Trust me, there are a lot of receivers in this league who have much more receiver ability, who are just born to be receivers. Donald was not one of those guys. He has had to work for everything he's gotten. That part of his game. The receiver part of it just never came easy to him. If there was ever a guy who worked hard it is Donald Driver. He made it so hard on the Green Bay Packers who tried to get rid of him, he made it so hard for them to keep him off the field. Donald is just a tremendous player and a tremendous person. He's one of those guys, a true professional, who never, never gave you a reason to sit him down or to trade him or to cut him.
He's full speed everyday in practice; he runs every route like it's the last one of his career and he makes plays on top of that, he make plays in crucial situations. You can't help but pull for a guy like that.
Q: You have a tough game coming up in New England and then three in a row at home against Washington, Miami and Detroit. How will having the extended period of games without travel help you down the stretch; especially now that you have won two division games on the road?
BF: We know that this is an extremely tough ball game coming up. I am sure the guys in New England and Bill Belichick will tell you the same thing. Especially this time of year, when we're losing guys right and left, week in and week out. At some point we're going to run out of guys if this continues, and not to make excuses, but the bye week can't come soon enough for the guys who are hurt that have a chance to come back and play after they have time to heal. But the games are only going to get tougher from here on out.
Whether you play at home or away, they are all tough. The two games we won here at home were down to the fourth quarter, basically the last play of the game. We're playing well right now. We're not playing as good as we feel like we're capable of, but at least we're playing well and we have to continue to get better. We would love to go up to New England and win and we know how difficult it will be. But at least after this game we'll get a little stretch where we can get a break and relax and rest some guys who are hurt and then come back with a tough stretch of games at home. I know we have Washington here next week and then the bye, but we're going to need that break.
Q: You were talking about how Mike Holmgren always can get in your head. In what way does that still come up for you?
BF: Well, it's more or less now talking about how Holmgren did things; whether it be coaches or players who ask me about him. Certain plays we still run are plays that Mike used to run with me. More that way. It's not that, you know, I just day dream about him.