*Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre has grown up before our eyes. He arrived in Green Bay with a cannon arm and overflowing confidence. During much of the 1990s, he dazzled and exasperated Packers coach Mike Holmgren in equal measures.
Nine years later, Holmgren is in Seattle, but his protege is still dazzling opponents, fans, and teammates. Thanks to experience and maturity, Favre no longer exasperates his coach (now Mike Sherman) and is playing better than ever.
For that reason, "Titletown, USA" is brimming with enthusiasm. Behind Favre, the Packers have been perennial playoff contenders since 1992, and he led Green Bay to victory in Super Bowl XXXI, the franchise's 12th NFL title. The three-time NFL player of the year reflects fondly on his 11-year career and his Super Bowl experiences...*
Preparing for the Super Bowl was totally different than the way we prepared during the year. Fortunately for us, in the two Super Bowls I played in (XXXI and XXXII), we had two weeks to prepare. You prepare for the game the first week like you normally do during the regular season. You get all of your tendencies and situational practices in that week.
When you get to the Super Bowl city, you still practice, but there are so many other outside appearances, media obligations, and stuff that it's just impossible to get all the normal things done. It makes for an unusual week, but that's the Super Bowl.
I wouldn't say I felt any more comfortable for the second Super Bowl. But for the guys who were playing for the first time, I was able to walk them through what was going to happen.
I've been very fortunate during my 10 years in Green Bay to stay in the same system. So I haven't had to relearn anything. I've been able to help new coaches and players a little bit. It's been easier for me than maybe other players around the league who have had to go through coaching transitions. In my case, the coaches have changed, but everything else has stayed the same.
I have had three head coaches the past four seasons. Fortunately, I have not had to make a lot of adjustments. But this year it was easier because it was my second year with Coach Sherman and my second year with Tom Rossley, my quarterbacks coach (and offensive coordinator). We are a little more at ease with each other and the system.
I like to think I've always been a good team player. But I appreciate the game more now, and I think if you ask a veteran player who has been around for a while, he's going to tell you that he appreciates the game more.
The first couple of years, you just kind of are looking around, saying, "Wow, I can't believe I'm here." You can't wait to get home and tell your friends and family and stuff, "Hey, I play with the Green Bay Packers.
Hey, Reggie White's a good friend of mine. Or Bart Starr." But as you get older, you realize that you are part of the NFL and that you will make your mark, and people will be talking about you at some point. And the more you play, the more you realize you aren't going to be around forever.
You soak it in a little more than you do early in your career.
When I eventually retire, I'll miss the fellowship with the guys, both the guys I played with and against. That's the part people tend to overlook. Even though they're your enemies on game day, without them there wouldn't be a sport. And without the guys who played before us, the game wouldn't be what it is today. I'll miss being a part of it.
*-- As Told To Matt Marini
Republished from the February-March issue of NFL Insider magazine.*