Once again, the Mississippi Gulf Coast has good reason to celebrate.
On Saturday, the Kiln’s Brett Favre will become the second Coast player inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Favre earned his trip to Canton, Ohio, on the heels of a spectacular career at quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, and later with the New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings.
The Coast’s first inductee – Gulfport’s Lem Barney – starred as a defensive back for the Detroit Lions, going into the NFL in 1967 and playing for 11 seasons. Barney prepped at 33rd Avenue High School in Gulfport before playing for Jackson State. Barney was a quarterback at 33rd Avenue High School before moving to defensive back in college.
Ironically, just as Favre began his eventful journey in the league when he became the Packers starting quarterback in 1992 —his second pro season — Barney was being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Favre will probably be on overload Saturday as he thinks about his 20-year NFL career.
This writer has plenty of memories of Favre.
It starts with his career at Hancock North Central, where he didn’t get that many opportunities to throw the ball very much under his coaching father, Irvin. He was efficient running a ground-oriented offense but he showed flashes when he let the ball loose.
One such occasion came when he led the Hawks to a come-from-behind victory at Long Beach, passing the team into scoring position before he scored the game-winning TD on a quarterback sneak.
When Favre got to Southern Miss, he astounded coaches and teammates with how hard he threw the ball in August drills. Receivers were complaining that he threw the ball too hard and was hurting their hands. And when the first- and second-string quarterbacks couldn’t get the job done in the second game of his freshman season, he led USM to a come-from-behind win over Tulane.
He would not relinquish the starting job, and thrilled Southern Miss fans again and again — especially in big wins such as the one against Florida State.
Thank goodness he didn’t stay in Atlanta very long after the Falcons drafted him.
Favre found his niche at Green Bay, and turned around the once-proud franchise. The Packers won one Super Bowl under his leadership — in the nearby Louisiana Superdome of all places — and lost another.
It seems like Favre always had the confidence he could make the throw. That resulted in a lot of interceptions – but plenty of touchdowns as well. He had that ability to inspire his teammates, and everyone knew if Favre and the Packers got the ball late in the fourth quarter, something good was going to happen. And if not, it would be exciting.
Yep, it will be a memorable day for Favre. And us.