Sep 23, 2005
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Favre gets high praise as a quarterback and 'a normal guy,' the admiration of Brett Favre runs deep through the Dolphins.


CLOSING IN: Brett Favre needs 18 TD passes to overtake Dan Marino's NFL record.

He met him once.

The time and place as irrelevant as the introduction itself, Dolphins defensive end Kevin Carter certainly can still recall speaking with Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre.

''Nice guy,'' said Carter, who added with pride that he also recorded his first NFL sack against Favre in 1995. ``Great guy.''

Their meeting came and passed within a few moments. No brotherly bond was developed. No forever friendship established. None necessary.

For Carter -- for so many others that never even have played against Favre -- it's still somehow easy to find some unique way to relate to one of the NFL's all-time best quarterbacks.

From breaking records to kicking drug addictions to coping with death, Favre remains one of the most durable, most empathized athletes. He's a hunter. A fisher. A father. A former drinker. And a pretty talented football player, too.

So even as he nears nervously close toward breaking the sacred records set by Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino, Favre has nonetheless earned the respect of many Dolphins players who will attempt Sunday to try to keep the history of their franchise's signature player safe.

''You relate with Brett because he's a guy,'' Dolphins quarterback Joey Harrington said. ``Just a normal guy who happens to play football very well. He's a guy who has problems and fights through them like everybody else, but does them well and does it with energy, does it with charisma and does it as a winner.''

Carter, for instance, can relate to Favre's durability. Among active NFL players, Carter has the fifth-longest streak of consecutive games played, but he is awed by the fact that Favre -- first on that list -- has taken the field 228 straight times.

''I hope to have that reputation as a tough guy,'' Carter said. 'I've built one, but man, you look at him, and you say, `That guy is a warrior.' ''

For Dolphins defensive tackle Keith Traylor, it's about the quarterback's ability to defy age when others question his ability.

Traylor, for instance, kicked off his career 15 years ago in 1991 -- the same season as Favre. Traylor, like Favre, remains one of the top performers on his team.

''Anybody that can stay in this league that long, and do it at a high level while continuing to be the team leader, I hold him up there with the highest,'' Traylor said.


But sometimes, beyond football, the ability to relate to Favre is about something far more distant than the game itself. The Packers' quarterback, a grizzled guy from the small town of Kiln, Miss., has endured everything from an addiction to Vicodin in the 1990s to the loss of his father to his wife's battle against cancer to devastation in his hometown from Hurricane Katrina.

''He's one of the boys,'' said defensive end David Bowens, who played in Green Bay with Favre in 2000. ``He drives an old dirty pickup truck, nothing flashy. He wears the same hat everyday, and he's hard worker on the field.''

In recent seasons, however, Favre has not led his team to the type of success he became accustomed to in the 1990s, which included a Super Bowl championship. A three-time MVP -- the only one in NFL history -- Favre and the Packers have won only five of their past 21 games.

Skeptics have wondered whether it's time for Favre to let the Packers move in a new direction, even as the quarterback continues to succeed physically. His 29 interceptions last season spurred many of those doubts.

But those who have seen him play recently -- including those that will play him Sunday -- are not about to doubt his continued strengths.

''Brett has been in the league forever,'' defensive end Jason Taylor said. ``. . . But he can still run and make plays. The thing with him is he is so fearless.

``He'll throw the ball sometimes when you think he shouldn't. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn't. He can still play the game for sure.''

Beyond his recent struggles, however, his popularity has not diminished among teammates or opponents. It remains Favre's leadership -- in addition to his durability and attitude -- that has made him a legend.

''A lot of times, the ability to relate has nothing to do with football,'' said Monday Night Football analyst Joe Theismann, a former Super Bowl MVP quarterback. ``With Brett Favre, you see the personal struggles he went through with the pain pills. You see the humanitarian aspect that he went through with Katrina.

``He's absolutely the best interview of anyone I've been around, as far as really being honest with his feelings. He'll talk about life in general.''

(Favre did not speak with South Florida reporters this week.)

However, despite the easy ability to empathize with some aspect of Favre's life, it's certainly easy to understand why the future Hall of Famer might want to be extra nice Sunday when he walks into Dolphin Stadium.


Favre was adamant that his return to the Packers for a 16th season wasn't based on the desire to achieve individual accomplishments. But it's difficult for anyone to think it wasn't at least a factor -- considering his close proximity to Marino's numbers.

Receiver Chris Chambers doesn't see anything wrong with it.

''If I were that close, I would try to play,'' Chambers said. ``For the legacy, definitely. He has the Super Bowl championship. So he doesn't want to say it, but I'm sure he wants to be the No. 1 quarterback, too.''

Favre needs 18 more touchdown passes to surpass Marino's all-time record of 420. He also needs 175 more completions to surpass Marino's all-time record of 4,967. And with nine more victories, Favre would surpass Marino (147) and John Elway (148) on that all-time leaderboard also.

No one within the Dolphins organization -- not even Marino, who did not reply to interview requests -- seems to take offense to Favre's return. Especially considering his contributions to the game.

''[Marino] is aware of his records,'' said former Dolphins tight end Joe Rose, who played with Marino and remains a close friend. ``But when I talk to him about it, he realizes the way the game is today, those records are made to be broken. He's aware of it. If Peyton Manning plays long enough, if Brett Favre plays long enough, he knows it will happen.''

Should those records eventually fall, Marino's legacy will still be remembered for his heroic comebacks and gutsy plays, Rose said. But you can still believe the Dolphins will do whatever they can Sunday to keep Favre from further closing in on Marino's records.

So no matter how easily players within the Dolphins' locker room can relate to Favre, they will still have one constant bond against him Sunday: To win the game. And maybe do their part to keep Marino's records safe for another year.

''Anything I can do to help The Man out,'' defensive end Jason Taylor said. ``I'm all for it.''


Dec 30, 2005
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thanks for the article, winni. just makes me remember how much the guy means to the sport - something that some people have forgotten.


May 21, 2005
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North Dakota
I think a true indicator on how much gas Favre has in the tank is how much respect he still gets from the rest of the NFL as a true competitor and a dangerous one at that...


Nov 23, 2005
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Fontana, CA
This is why we need to vote for him for the pro bowl...Yes, he can still play, and for those of you who think Rodgers should step in are crazy IMO...

That is what I love about Brett, he isnt flashy, he is a down to earth person with a great heart and the love of a game called football...

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