Football

Irvin Favre: Early days on Hancock field showed young player’s shining promise of future

Mississippi Fire Dogs coach Irvin Favre watches as the players are introduced before the start of a game in 2000.
Mississippi Fire Dogs coach Irvin Favre watches as the players are introduced before the start of a game in 2000. jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com File

EDITOR’S NOTE: South Mississippi native Brett Favre will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday night. He chose his wife, Deanna, to introduce him. He told ESPN he wished his Dad, the late Irvin Favre, who was his coach in his formative high school days, was around to do the introduction. Irvin died suddenly in 2003, but the football coach-dad was proud of Brett when he earned his first NFL MVP award. He penned a column for a 1996 Sun Herald special section celebrating that award. Today, we republish Irvin’s column.

A few days ago, I got a press clipping in the mail that said there have been only three Most Valuable Players in the NFL from Mississippi: Walter Payton, Charlie Connerly and Brett Favre.

That is humbling.

Looking back at Brett’s career from Hancock North Central to the Green Bay Packers, it is almost mindboggling.

Bonita and I can see it before our eyes now. But back then, we were hoping.

After all, this is what our kids like, which is to play ball and be involved in sports. You don’t know what will happen because life is so unpredictable. We just wanted Brett to get into college, get a degree and be successful.

There are 30 people in the world who are starting quarterbacks in the NFL How small a percentage is that and then out of that small group, to become MVP of the NFL. It is mindboggling that that could happen.

And then there are only two pro athletes that have come out of the Hancock County area: Wendell Ladner and Brett Favre.

I knew Brett could play quarterback in college when he came out of high school. He had the height, the strength, the arm and the knowledge up above to play quarterback. I didn’t know if anyone would take him as a quarterback because they didn’t get to see him throw enough.

But as a defensive back, you could see on the high school level that he had a nose for the football. He had a lot of range. I was hoping he would play quarterback, but I had my doubts whether anyone would take him. Southern Mississippi took him as a defensive back.

It just so happened that in the first week of practice for freshmen, he was throwing the football. Coach Jim Carmody saw him and told his coaches, “I know we have him listed as a defensive back, but let’s see what he can do as a quarterback.”

Brett knew how to take advantage of that opportunity.

People talk about Brett in high school, but one game that stands out was a win at Long Beach his senior year.

That was a game where we got behind and came back throwing the football. Brett was injured but he drove the team 80 yards in the last three minutes to win the game. And he scored the winning touchdown on a quarterback sneak.

Here’s something that the fans didn’t know. I didn’t call for a quarterback sneak. I called for an off-tackle play by the running back. But Brett saw an opening and we only had a yard to go. So he ran the sneak in on his own.

I can tell you, he got chewed out for that. But he told me he saw the opening, and he had me there.

It may sound like bragging, but I think any fan will understand this: To be a great quarterback, you have to have the smarts. You can’t be a dumb person. The quarterback has to be another coach. There is so much studying, but you also have to be lucky and healthy.

Like I say, it would have been hard to predict this type of success for Brett when he was running the wing-T at Hancock. But it has been fun to watch him grow and achieve a lot in the football world.

Brett Favre Pro Football Hall of Fame Week

This week, the Sun Herald is celebrating Mississippi Gulf Coast native Brett Favre’s induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The ceremony is Saturday night. Throughout the week, we will publish stories about Favre’s achievements. Be sure to go to SunHerald.com for more coverage, including archival stories and photo galleries.

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