I've been getting lost a lot lately.
No, I haven't made any wrong turns visiting the Kiln lately — although, I sort of feel like that, to be honest.
With Brett Favre's Pro Football Hall of Fame induction rapidly approaching, I've spent a lot of time in sifting through old microfilm (“old microfilm,” isn't that a bit redundant?), combing through files in the Sun Herald's catacombs and pestering former Sun Herald sports staffers about their recollections of the former gunslinger.
Honestly, it's assignments like these — opportunities to learn about the Coast's past — that I enjoy the most. Not a South Mississippi native, I've heard plenty about how things used to be through my in-laws but didn't experience them myself.
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The things you can learn through old newspaper clippings are incredible.
It's hard to believe any other publication in the nation has written more about Favre — certainly his pre-Green Bay days, when he was a talented quarterback at Hancock North Central High and later a defensive back-turned quarterback at Southern Miss. If Favre did something, the Sun Herald was there. That's why I'm excited about our coverage plan for the week leading up to Favre's big day in Canton, Ohio; to dust off and share old stories and photos that have otherwise been lost except in the memories of those who typed out the copy or snapped and developed the images.
A couple observations:
▪ Considering Favre's a guy who made a name for himself whipping the ball around the field, it's incredible how many high school photos we have of him either scrambling or handing off the ball.
▪ I have a favorite Tim Isbell photo of Favre and it's not the famous draft day jorts image — although that's a close second. There's one photo that screams 1980s. At Hancock for preseason photos, current staffer Tim Isbell snapped a photo of Favre on one knee, wearing a short LSU football T-shirt and what looks like a head band fashioned from a shredded T-shirt.
Isbell, obviously not knowing who the teenage Favre would one day become, remembered asking: “What are you some kind of kamikaze quarterback?”
▪ The front page of the 1989 football tab screamed “FAVRE 4 HEISMAN.” Funny how a guy who didn't receive a USM offer until days before the 1987 signing day — and was recruited as a safety — would eventually turn into an all-timer. The accompanying article read most like a Favre biography, detailing the South Mississippian's rise up USM's QB depth chart from sixth to first and then to Heisman hopeful.
▪ There was also a tender moment. After Favre was drafted, Isbell caught up with him at the Biloxi-Gulfport Regional Airport before he left for Atlanta to sign his rookie contract with the Falcons. Isbell snapped away as wife Deanna held up their daughter, Brittany, who was 2 at the time, for one last good-bye kiss.
▪ And then there's these gems from an aggregation of analysis prior to the 1991 NFL Draft: “He's got that old Archie Manning, Huckleberry Finn, good-old-guy thing. He really competes.”- Reed Johnson, Denver Broncos director of player personnel … “Of all the quarterbacks I saw, Favre was the best.” - Tom Braatz, Green Bay Packers director of football operations … “Jim Kelly mentality. Lost 30 inches of intestines in a car accident before the season, yet came back to play well. Brought USM back to beat Auburn. Teammates rally around him. Scouts rave over his arm strength and gutty performance.” J. David Miller of Sport magazine … and “Brett who? He might be obscure to the average fan, but pros know plenty about this strong-armed passer. Recovered from serious car accident to post fourth straight 1,000-yard passing season.”
Over the next week there will be plenty more reflections and memories from Favre's prep, college and professional career told in a way only SunHerald.com can. Be sure to check back daily for more from the Sun Herald archives.