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Brett Favre Honored By Alma Mater


Many professional football players give their days on the high school gridiron no more than fleeting thoughts. They are thought of as meaningless stepping-stones to far greater glory.

Others view those memories as a one-way ticket to an ego trip. They puff their chests out with pride recalling games of 300 yards rushing or 25 tackles.

Then there's Brett Favre.

The Green Bay Packers' perennial Pro Bowl quarterback who is destined for the Hall of Fame was recently honored by alma mater, Hancock North Central High School in Kiln, Miss. Its stadium was renamed Brett Favre Field and a 12-foot, 400-pound statue of Favre was unveiled.

About 1,000 fans gathered for the ceremony, which featured speakers including school officials, politicians, former coaches and Favre's brother, Scott. The hometown hero even uttered a few words to the crowd before proclaiming feelings of humbleness and even embarrassment.

Nearly two months later, the three-time NFL Most Valuable Player recalls the day with those same emotions. But what tugs most at his heartstrings when he thinks back to that spring afternoon in Kiln is sensing his late father Irvin looking down upon him. Irvin, who died of a heart attack last December, coached Brett at North Hancock and was credited for transforming a struggling program into a winner.

"I still miss him," says Favre. "He was such a special part of my life and meant so much to my career. I wished he could have been there to be part of that day, but I knew he was watching. I'm sure he is proud."

What Irvin likely would have been most proud of that day was not that Brett was returning home as a football hero, but that he returned home as a humble honoree by those he still considers friends and important teachers in the games of both football and life.

Favre is quick to emphasize that it is not them who owes him a debt of gratitude. It is very much the other way around.

"Without the people who have supported me throughout my career, going back to high school, I would not be in a position to where the school would even think about doing such a thing," Favre says. "So there's a lot of thanks that I owe to a lot of people.

"I've been blessed to have had a successful career and I never dreamed I'd win the Super Bowl or the MVPs, so I'm just thankful to be able to enjoy the game as much as I do."

The obvious joy Favre relishes from playing football began as a youth. Though some adolescent athletes are emotionally harmed by meddling fathers whose sons serve as caddies for their own egos, such wasn't the case with Irvin and Brett.

The latter speaks with reverence for his dad. Irvin's coaching and parenting methods provided Brett with a strong feeling of enjoyment and a strong sense of developing the most effective habits to succeed.

"First of all," Favre says, "having my dad as a coach was fun. It also had its challenges, because he was probably harder on me than some of the other guys. He just wanted me to give 100 percent effort all the time. That's what he wanted from all of us. He expected a lot from me and that helped me develop the work ethic I have today.

"We didn't have a lot of players, but all of them worked hard. That's what made it fun. We gave each other a hard time a lot, but when we were in a tough spot in a game, you could sure count on your teammates."

One might think that with Favre as the quarterback, there couldn't have been too many tough spots. But that's certainly not how he remembers his high school career.

"It was definitely a challenge," he says. "There are many good football players at the high school level. Every team has good players; some more than others. The match-ups were fun and we developed some great rivalries over the years.

"There were so many great moments back then that it's hard to name just one as the best. But it was great to play for my dad. I cherish him even more now than I did then because he's gone."

Yes, Irvin Favre is gone. But Brett Favre sure felt his presence on that early May day in Mississippi.

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