Van Der Beek's favorite player.
*Note: As high school quarterback Jonathon Moxon in the movie "Varsity Blues," actor James Van Der Beek admits he tried to model his game after his NFL idol, Brett Favre. "I always pictured my character in that movie as a Favre-type quarterback," says Van Der Beek. Van Der Beek is best known for his role as the title character in "Dawson's Creek," which is in its sixth season on the WB. He also stars in a new movie, "The Rules of Attraction," which is in theaters Oct. 11. *
As a kid growing up in Connecticut, I got my first taste of football from watching it on TV. But it was what I heard as much as what I saw that drew me in. I remember hearing the game on TV before I ever knew what it was - the excitement in the voices of the announcers, the sound of helmets and shoulder pads colliding, the swell of crowd noise almost drowning out the snap count.
And it was TV that led me to become a Green Bay Packers fan. I remember picking the Packers as my favorite team when I was a kid after watching one of those old NFL Films presentations about the first two Super Bowls. Connecticut doesn't really have a football team, so it's not like I had any hometown allegiance. There are a lot of Patriots fans in Connecticut, but I gave up on them when New England lost so badly to the Bears in Super Bowl XX after the 1985 season. I was eight years old at the time, and I swore I'd never be a Pats fan after that - except for last year, because I'll root for anybody to beat the Rams!
As far as a favorite player, I love the way Brett Favre plays the game - jumping up and down after every TD, stiff-arming defenders, throwing blocks downfield, and always keeping his team in the game. And it doesn't get better than a game at Lambeau Field. The town of Green Bay owns that team - literally - and everyone in that stadium probably knows more about the players than the announcers do, and there's no roof to keep out the elements. Games there are what football is all about to me.
Of course, when you talk about "passion for the game," it's hard to find more passionate football fans than those in Texas. Getting to play a Texas high school football player in the movie Varsity Blues was a great experience. Varsity Blues gave me a ton of respect for what those guys do. I was playing with former high school players and I got my ass kicked. I can't imagine the kind of toughness and speed it must take to play in the NFL.
I always pictured my character in that movie as a Favre-type quarterback - not just because I wore a No. 4 jersey, just like Favre. I'm not sure how I did in terms of actually being able to model my game after his, but at least I had the right number on my back.
I still love watching football on TV, which is why I say this: God bless NFL Sunday Ticket on DirecTV! Every Sunday, if I'm not working, I'll sit on my couch and flip between the big games. My fiancée has gotten into it now, too, so she screams at the TV along with me.
In between the screaming, I'll be on the phone with my dad and my brother. As a kid, I always watched the games with them. I'll always call them if I'm at a game or just watching at home, and vice versa.
*Next week on NFL.com's Passion for the Game: musician Branford Marsalis *