With his first preseason game of his 15th season just around the corner, Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre has come a long way. He does not exactly remember his first preseason opponent as a Packers player. (He thinks it was the Kansas City Chiefs.) But he remembers his strategy.
"All I knew was throw it hard and as far as I can throw it," he said.
Although he gradually became a student of the game, that gunslingling style laid the foundation for a Hall of Fame career.
With legendary quarterbacks Steve Young and Dan Marino inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday, Favre reflected on his legacy. Concussions ultimately ended Young's career. But Marino mulled offers from the Minnesota Vikings and his hometown team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, to continue playing before turning them down in the end.
Assuring Packers fans everywhere, he is not eyeing the end of his career and will not play for anyone else.
"I'm in no hurry for that to come," he said. "I won't play anywhere else."
Whenever the time does come for him to hang up his cleats, Favre promises few regrets, knowing he has given it his all.
"I've enjoyed every bit of it, which will make it a little bit easier to leave the game when that time comes," he said. "I have no reservations about my career and what I've done and how much effort I've put into it."
In the near future, Favre said he will not receive many repetitions during Thursday's game versus the San Diego Chargers, but he has some goals in mind. He wants the offense to produce yardage and score points. He wants the unit to showcase its promise.
"We're not going to win any championships on Thursday," he said. "But when we watch the game tape Friday or Saturday, I want to see some confidence building."
The wide receivers should have plenty of confidence. Favre said they can resemble the fleet of receivers that helped the Indianapolis Colts rack up 4,623 passing yards and 51 passing touchdowns last year. He feels comfortable with Javon Walker, Donald Driver, Robert Ferguson and Antonio Chatman. He did not even mention rookie Terrence Murphy, who impressed observers during organized team activities and training camp.
"The competition (between receivers) is great," he said.
Walker leads that unit. He returned to the morning practice on Tuesday -- much quicker than Favre or the coaching staff anticipated -- after injuring his hamstring. He caught two deep passes from Favre that would have gone for touchdowns and did not break stride on either.
"He makes those plays in his sleep," Favre said.
Favre had greater concerns about tight end David Martin, who returned to practice on Monday afternoon from a groin injury. The quarterback fears that Martin, a talented but quiet guy, has lost a bit of confidence following his latest in a string of injuries.
"Mentally, he's got to be tougher and stronger with himself," Favre said, "because the talent is there."
Favre should appear tougher and stronger on Thursday as well. Following an arduous offseason workout routine with a personal trainer, Favre feels quicker and lighter than ever before. On his second throw to Walker, he rolled to his right to avoid a pass rusher. And he is ready to test his new body in the live game against the Chargers.
"If someone comes free, we'll see what happens," he said. "If he hits me, he hits me, but it won't hurt."
After 15 years the gunslinger still has a little swagger left in him.