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Packers Notebook - Favre Still The Same At 34


Now in his 13th season, Brett Favre's NFL career has seen its share of good days, bad days and birthdays.

The NFL's only three-time MVP turned 34 Friday. And although Favre's hair now features significant tufts of silver, his game shows few signs of age.

The Packers' all-time passing leader got off to a rocky start in 2003, but since his four-interception performance in the season opener, Favre has completed 67.8 percent of his passes for eight touchdowns compared to three interceptions.

He was especially sharp last week against the Seattle Seahawks, hitting on 19 of 25 attempts for 185 yards and two touchdowns, which earned him a quarterback rating of 122.9.

But if some fans and members of the media speculated after Week 1 that the Packers' starting quarterback was over the hill, Favre hasn't doubted himself for a moment.

"I can still play," Favre said this week, clearly disappointed that he would even have to defend himself. "Nothing's ever changed. Other people have questioned that, questioned how long I'll be around. I've never once questioned that."

In part, Favre credits his longevity to his consistency, not in terms of passing percentage, but in the way he approaches the game.

Almost every NFL player learns to recite the mantra about not getting too high over a win or too down over a loss, but few are as true to that concept as Favre.

Recounting a recent conversation with quarterbacks coach Darrell Bevell, Favre said he was told with astonishment, "You're the same every time."

"He was joking that he still hasn't figured me out on the sidelines," Favre said of Bevell. "Even after a bad play or a good play, 99.9 percent of the time, I'm the same.

"And I think that's a good trait. I think I've seen everything and just about everything has happened to me: good and bad, in between."

For all the times Favre has had to be the hero, in the Packers' three wins this season it's been running back Ahman Green carrying much of the load.

Ironically, Favre's season-high for passing yards (248) came in one of his worst regular-season performances ever at Lambeau Field, when he had a 46.6 rating against Minnesota in Week 1.

That Favre has yet to throw for 300 yards this season shouldn't be too alarming. In 1996 and 1997, seasons in which Favre won MVP honors and led the Packers to the Super Bowl, he threw for 300 yards only twice each.

And with the running game clicking as it is, Favre is happy to sacrifice passing stats for wins.

"I would love to throw for 400 yards," Favre said, "but I think in my career of all the games I threw for 400 yards and we lost. And you know you can't brag about that."

The breakdown is a bit misleading, considering that trailing teams pass more to catch up, whereas leading teams run more to protect the ball and control the clock later in games.

That said, Favre is 24-11 in his career when he passes for 300 yards or more in the regular sesaon, but he's 34-5 when he has a 100-yard rusher.

In fact, Favre has a 19-game winning streak when a Packers back reaches the century mark, and he's 41-0 when the Packers have more running plays than passing plays, as has been the case in 2003 victories over Detroit and Seattle.

According to Favre, the Packers offense is at its best when they attempt to "keep it simple."

"The plays are there to be made," Favre said. "Sometimes I make them, sometimes I don't. But I will never second-guess anything I do."

He's too old for that.

Holliday's Homecoming

Starting at defensive end for a Kansas City team that's undefeated through five games, Vonnie Holliday suggested this week that there's no place he'd rather be.

But when the Chiefs come to Lambeau Field this weekend, Holliday will be returning to the place he never wanted to leave.

"People say now, because we're going to Green Bay, 'You're going back home,'" said Holliday, who played five seasons in Green Bay before signing with the Chiefs in the offseason.

"I know I really did think that would be my home for the length of my professional career. And unfortunately it's a business and it didn't work out that way.

"Fortunately for me, I wound up in a great situation here."

That Holliday didn't re-sign with the Packers wasn't for lack of trying. Before the 2002 season, Holliday reportedly refused the Packers' offer for a long-term contract.

The Packers made additional offers after the season, but both parties couldn't agree to terms.

It didn't help negotiations that Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, Cletidus Hunt and Joe Johnson were locked up in long-term contracts, or that Holliday was coming off an injury plagued season in which he played only 10 games.

"It was a bind," Holliday said. "I know injuries were a question. Who can fault them?"

Certainly not Holliday, who said he has no regrets over the way things turned out.

Included among his 11 tackles, Holliday already has four sacks this season. In 2002, Holliday had only six sacks for the entire year and five of them came in one game against the Buffalo Bills.

"He's been outstanding," Chiefs head coach Dick Vermeil said. "I think the best football in Vonnie's career is ahead of him, and I think it's all up to him."

Listed as questionable for Sunday with a groin strain, Holliday gave every indication that he'll be in the lineup Sunday.

He's already taken on the Packers once in the preseason, having clashed with his former team in the storm-shortened Pro Football Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, in August. But for Holliday, who was the Packers' first-round draft choice in 1998, this meeting will be different.

"I don't know what it's going to be like to walk in on that opposite sideline and be the enemy and have fans not cheering for me," Holliday said. "It's going to be a different feel.

"It was one thing to play in Canton, on a neutral ground, but now I'm back to Green Bay. I'm really looking forward to it."

Henderson Hero

The fullback position has never really been a focal point of the Packers' West Coast offense, but it might not feel that way this season.

Over the past four years and counting Henderson has had no more than seven carries per season, but the Packers have never been afraid to use him as a receiver out of the backfield.

This year Henderson already has 11 receptions -- his career-high is 41 in 1997 -- with eight of them going for first downs, including two for touchdowns.

"I think it's been proven over the years, although you forget because he doesn't catch a lot of passes, that he has great hands," Favre said. "Every time you throw it to him, he catches it ... On top of that, he's so deceptive in the open field when he runs the ball. He's big and stiff-looking, and yet he hurdles guys."

Henderson jumped over one would-be tackler last weekend when Favre rolled out and hit him for a 14-yard gain up the sideline.

As planned as it may have appeared, Favre said that -- like many of the plays that end up going Henderson's way -- the fullback wasn't designed to be an option.

"We were watching film Monday and Darrell (Bevell) goes, 'How did you know he would be there?' And I said, 'I have no clue,'" Favre said.

"He's a blocker all the way (on that play), but by the amount of time that it took, William's just got kind of a built in clock -- and that's from working with me for so long -- that he eventually turned around and looked."

Presumably Favre is yet to develop the same rapport with backup Nick Luchey, who was signed in March as the Packers' fullback of the future.

Luchey has been sidelined most of the season with injuries (calf strain, broken thumb), however Henderson's play hasn't opened any doors.

In addition to his production in the passing game, Henderson has been effective as Green's lead blocker.

Through five games, Green's 560 yards rushing trail only the Baltimore Ravens' Jamal Lewis (611) and the Carolina Panthers' Stephen Davis (565).

"He's playing very well right now," GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman said of Henderson. "He's a very dependable football player and I'm very fortunate that we have him."

Despite speculation that the training camp battle between Henderson and Luchey sparked a resurgence in the ninth-year veteran, Favre said he hasn't detected a difference.

"To say that he's kind of resurfaced," Favre said, "William will tell you and I will tell you the same thing: He's always been here."

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