While former Packers general manager Ron Wolf meandered the sideline during Tuesday's practice, quarterback Brett Favre began to reflect on how that man changed his life.
"I've always felt indebted to him for obvious reasons," he said. "He took a big gamble."
When Wolf took over the Packers, he traded a 1992 first round draft pick (17th overall) to the Atlanta Falcons for a player who weighed 250 pounds, had a few too many beers and a serious case of naïveté. He practiced hard but went harder at night.
"I couldn't figure out the whole season why I never got a chance to play," Favre said.
Wolf fancied him for the rocket arm he displayed at the University of Southern Mississippi rather than his body of work with the Falcons.
His 1991 statistics with the Falcons include two games played, 0-for-4 on passing attempts and two interceptions -- numbers hardly indicative of the man who has led the NFL in yardage twice.
Asked what made Favre such a special quarterback, Wolf cited his God-given abilities.
"It's all in the genes," Wolf said. "And I'm not talking Levi Strauss [& Co]."
General Manager Ted Thompson had just begun working with the Packers as an assistant director of pro personnel when the Packers traded for Favre. While the coaching staff worked him out, Thompson broke down film in the bowels of Lambeau Field.
Thompson admits he did not know how special Favre would become but said Wolf supported him all along.
"Ron was consistently a champion of Brett Favre," Thompson said. "He's still a big fan."
Wolf felt so strongly about Favre that he ordered the team to give him a passing grade on his physical after team physicians initially flunked him.
Coming out of college, Favre injured his hip during the East-West Shrine Game. He developed avascular necrosis, the same blood flow condition that Bo Jackson suffered. Several doctors predicted he would not last three years.
Favre, an iron man with an NFL-record 205 consecutive starts, defied those predictions. His hip has become only a minor discomfort.
"I don't have as much flexibility in the socket," he said. "It bothers me from time to time."
Thompson, who hopes Favre does not suffer any other nagging injuries, made Wolf's visit a priority. In late January of 2005, one week after assuming Wolf's former position, Thompson asked the personnel guru to stop by training camp
"There's a wealth of knowledge there," Thompson said.
As No. 4 sat out Tuesday's afternoon practice, Wolf sought him out on the sideline, something he does whenever he comes back to training camp.
"He's a very, very special person to me," he said.