Originally created 09/30/03

Favre aging but how old?



CHICAGO -- Brett Favre getting old? Could it be the leader of the Green Bay Packers has become a graybeard less than two weeks before his 34th birthday?

In one instance, he has. When he shaves now, the whiskers he sees in the sink are indeed gray.

"That makes me feel old," he said.

How about the fact that some of his Packers teammates weren't even in high school when he was a rookie with the Atlanta Falcons in 1991? That's a year before the Packers pulled off one of the greatest moves in NFL history and traded for him.

In his first year with Green Bay, he replaced Don Majkowski and began the longest streak of durability a quarterback has ever had.

Favre was to make his 177th straight start Monday night, when Green Bay met the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. During Favre's remarkable streak, the Bears have used 15 different starting quarterbacks.

"Honestly it seems like yesterday when I would talk with my wife or my agent or just whoever would listen: 'Man, what do I have to do to become one of the elite quarterbacks in this league?" Favre said.

Favre's talent was always there, but it took a coach named Mike Holmgren to refine his raw skills with a blend of discipline and love. That a young Favre envisioned being great helped, too.

"Being as naJive as I was at the time I wanted to be Jim Kelly and Marino and Warren Moon and Elway and Young and Montana. I wanted to be those guys," Favre said.

"I cannot look back and be negative about one thing. Everything I ever dreamed of has come true and then some 10 times over. I mean it's amazing. I've had guys come in and say, 'Man, I had your poster on the wall in the sixth grade,"' Favre said.

Favre isn't ready to have a long discussion on when he'll retire, but he's seen many teammates - especially those from the 1996 and 1997 Super Bowl teams - move on.

"Before the game in Arizona we were kind of talking in the locker room, me and some of the young guys. We were kind of looking at the program. We were talking about ages. I said, 'I was a rookie in 91,"' Favre said. "Craig Nall, our backup quarterback, said he was in seventh grade. Then Najeh Davenport said he was in the sixth grade."

"But it's great because not too many players can say that, can ever say they were able to stay around as long as I have."

For those who want to copy his style, his unique ability to turn a broken play into a gainer, Favre says forget it.

"I would not tell any young quarterback to emulate the way I throw, the way I play. To say I'm a dying breed is incorrect because I don't think anybody has ever thrown like me," he said.

"I'm not tooting my own horn. The way I play, my mechanics are the worse you've ever seen when you're watching on TV or on film. But you can't argue with production."

Favre hasn't been as productive in the Packers' first three games, throwing a half dozen interceptions during the 1-2 start, including one in the closing stages of a disappointing loss to Arizona.

"He's still talented and very dangerous," said Bears defensive coordinator Greg Blache, once a Green Bay assistant.

Favre has always played his best when taking on the Bears; he has an 18-4 record against them.

"He does everything wrong. OK? If you talk about mechanical quarterback stuff, he throws it sidearm, he throws overhead, he throws off the back foot, he throws across the field late, but he's successful doing it," Blache said.

"That's what makes Brett Brett. He makes throws falling backward off the wrong foot underneath your armpit. That's the legend and the thing he's built."