Brett Favre stood on the sidelines at M.M. Roberts Stadium Tuesday morning looking every bit as fit and energetic as the NFL quarterback who carved out a Hall of Fame career.
Could he still play? “I can still throw the ball as well as I ever have. No question about that,” said Favre as he gazed out at the youngsters assembled for his inaugural 7-on-7 football camp on The University of Southern Mississippi campus.
Does he want to play? “I don’t want to put my body through that anymore,” he said. “I’ve been beat up enough.”
Favre, 41, a former Southern Miss standout, spent 20 years in the NFL, accomplishing every milestone imaginable and then some. A three-time NFL Most Valuable Player, Favre holds records for most career passing yards (71,838); touchdown passes (508) and consecutive starts at quarterback (321 including playoffs). He led the Green Bay Packers to the Super Bowl championship following the 1996 season.
A second-round draft choice of the Atlanta Falcons in 1991, Favre played one year for the Falcons, 16 with the Packers, one with the New York Jets and the last two with the Minnesota Vikings. He retired this past January with more NFL records under his belt than any quarterback in league history.
But on this blazing hot June morning, Favre’s focus was on the 24 high schools that sent players to participate in his first 7-on-7 camp. Schools from as far away as Texas City, Texas made the journey to Hattiesburg for the one-day camp. The camp is designed to raise money for the Favre 4 Hope Foundation and The University of Southern Mississippi Brett Favre Athletic Endowment Scholarship.
One almost needed to pinch Gautier (Miss.) High rising senior Zach Robinson, who watched intensely as Favre mingled with coaches and shouted encouragement to the players.
“This is just crazy, unbelievable that I’m standing this close to Brett Favre,” said Robinson, a starting wide receiver for the Gators. “I’ve been letting my friends know all about this on Facebook.”
Robinson said Favre’s career and obvious love for the game should serve as an inspiration to football players everywhere.
“Watching him play, you could just tell how much fun he was having out there,” said Robinson. “And knowing that he played a lot of those games when he was hurt just shows how much he really loved it. You can learn a lot from that.”
Favre, in his typical aw-shucks style, downplays the idea of imparting significant words of wisdom to the teenagers vying for his attention.
“I don’t think there will be anything I can say to them that would be seen as a breakthrough or enlightening,” said Favre. “But I’ll share with them some things I’ve experienced over the course of 20 years in the NFL that might help them become better players.”