Brett Favre pays tribute to late father in HOF induction speech
Brett Favre spoke from the heart Saturday night. For over 36 minutes, he fought back tears, sometimes unsuccessfully, while recalling his Hall of Fame career with a speech that was off the cuff. Read the transcript. His bronze bust will be forever placed next to Ron Wolf, the former Packers general manager who swung the trade to bring Favre to Green Bay from Atlanta in 1992. In an off-the-cuff speech, just as he’d predicted, Favre spoke just over 36 minutes and devoted nearly nine minutes to honor his father, Irv, who died in 2003 on the eve of one of his greatest performances: a 399-yard, four-touchdown game against the Oakland Raiders on Monday Night Football. Favre said that on the plane ride to Mississippi for his father’s funeral after the Oakland game, Deanna told him: “Your dad had said to me that he had hoped or could not wait for the day you’re inducted into the Hall of Fame so he could introduce you.”
“Up until that moment, I had never thought about the Hall of Fame,” Favre said Saturday. “So a new goal entered my mind. I said to myself, ‘I will make it to the Hall of Fame so I could acknowledge the fact of how important he was.’” And then the emotions hit. After a long pause and fighting back tears, Favre said, “This is tougher than any third-and-15.” Irv coached his son in high school, and Favre said he once heard his dad tell his assistant coaches after one game that his son might not have played well but that he would redeem himself.
“I want you to know, Dad, I spent the rest of my career trying to redeem myself and make him proud,” Favre said. “I hope I succeeded.” Irv would have presented his son had he not died at age 58. Instead, Deanna performed the honor. “She was there long before my first touchdown pass and long after the last,” Favre said of his wife. “So it was an easy choice.” Brett Favre, with wife Deanna, unveils his Hall of Fame bust during Saturday night’s induction ceremony. Rick Wood/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/USA TODAY Network A first-ballot selection, Favre, 46, retired — finally — in 2010 after 20 seasons. Sixteen of those came in Green Bay, where he helped resurrect a franchise that was without a title since the Lombardi era until Favre & Co. won Super Bowl XXXI. He was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame last summer and his retired No. 4 was unveiled on the Lambeau Field façade on Thanksgiving night last year, with one of his idols, Bart Starr, in the house.
That event served as the final mend between the Packers, their fans and Favre, who originally retired in 2008 only to change his mind later that summer. GM Ted Thompson then traded Favre to the New York Jets. He retired again after one season only to come back and play two more seasons for the Minnesota Vikings.
“Atlanta to Minnesota, 20 years,” Favre said in summing up his career. “But make no mistake about, I will be remembered as a Packer.” Thompson was in the crowd Saturday and led a contingent of Packers that included quarterback Aaron Rodgers and kicker Mason Crosby, who are the only two current Packers who played with Favre, and coach Mike McCarthy. “It just sends tingles up your spine,” Thompson told ESPN.com as the ceremony began. “It’s almost like a home game for the Packers. Just listen to this [chant of ‘Go, Pack, go’]. This means so much to all these people, to us, to Brett and his family.
“For me, it’s just a remarkable sense of pride. I was lucky enough to be hired by Ron Wolf in 1992, and so I got to see it when it all began. And that started with Brett. And it started with Mike Holmgren. And it started with Ron Wolf. But Brett’s ability to do what he did was just remarkable. I can’t say enough about what Brett meant to the Green Bay Packers.” The NFL’s iron-man quarterback started a record 297 consecutive regular-season games. It began when he replaced Don Majkowski in the Packers’ starting lineup on Sept. 27, 1992, and ended on Dec. 13, 2010, when the Vikings turned in their pregame inactive list with No. 4 on it. Along the way, the free-wheeling Favre threw for an NFL-record 71,838 yards and 508 touchdowns, marks that were later eclipsed by Peyton Manning. He still holds the record for most career interceptions (336). Favre won all three of his Most Valuable Player awards in succession (1995-97) with the Packers. Favre was the final speaker during Saturday’s induction. Other players enshrined included Marvin Harrison, Orlando Pace, Dick Stanfel, Kevin Greene, Ken Stabler, Edward DeBartolo Jr. and Tony Dungy. Favre spoke the longest. Twenty-nine minutes in, he said: “They told me I’ve got eight to 10 minutes, and I’ve got every one of these guys clocking me right now. I’m going for a world record. I don’t give a damn.”
Favre opened by saying he was going to ask Thompson and McCarthy if he could play the first series of Sunday night’s Hall of Fame game against the Colts. “All this excitement has me wanting to call [ESPN’s] Ed Werder and spread the word again,” Favre said. He closed with some advice. “Work as hard as you possibly can, lay it all on the line, and whatever happens, happens,” Favre said. “But you won’t look back and regret. “I don’t regret anything. That’s not to say it was perfect. I don’t regret anything, and that’s what I’m most proud of.”