Gay Column


Apr 14, 2005
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Citrus Heights CA

Favre seems forever young -- at least against 49ers

The good ol' days of a nimble Brett Favre scrambling free on the bootleg, throwing deep, tight spirals, and sprinting half the length of a football field to toss his favorite 190-pound receiver over his shoulder are back for the Packers.

You saw it Sunday, the NFL's most grizzled 37-year-old quarterback rejuvenating himself at the NFL's most grizzled ballpark, on the waterlogged field at Candlestick Point.

Favre passed for 293 yards and two touchdowns, schooled the 49ers' injury-depleted secondary in what became a lopsided 30-19 Green Bay victory and helped revitalize another battered horse, former Raiders No. 1 pick Charles Woodson, who ran a punt back 40 yards.

"Yeah, I felt something special going on here. Definitely. It was there,'' said Woodson, who wears a harness on his shoulder pads to protect his injured left shoulder but still has five interceptions this season.

All that weekend rain in the Bay Area must have completely refreshed a 5-8 Green Bay team. The Packers sure as heck haven't done this kind of thing at Lambeau Field, where they are a hometown-hideous 1-5.

Perhaps a little Bay Area history has something to do with the restoration.

In the late 1990s, Favre was playoff money in San Francisco, winning four postseason matchups against Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young -- two in San Francisco.

Fast-forward nearly a decade, and the luster has faded quite a bit from both storied franchises. Green Bay last visited the playoffs in 2004, while the 49ers' drought extends to the 2002 postseason.

Both teams got old. Then they got too young. They got new coaches. And though nobody likes to concede to rebuilding, that's exactly what continues in San Francisco and Green Bay.

For the 49ers, also 5-8, second-year coach Mike Nolan is exerting his authority in sometimes haphazard ways. He won a couple of challenges Sunday but also made the curious decision to bench his most experienced receiver, Antonio Bryant, on the team's opening series because of some sort of unexplained grudge.

Quarterback Alex Smith found other receivers running routes a little late and threw the ball a little early far too many times. The 49ers turned the ball over three times, twice on Smith interceptions, and the Packers -- who racked up 420 total yards -- were grateful for everything they got.

"This wasn't a championship game or a playoff game, for that matter,'' said Favre, whose interception-free performance Sunday pushed him to his 15th consecutive 3,000-yard passing season. "But I've grown to appreciate each win. A win's a win. They're much harder to come by these days.''

Across the NFL and even in Wisconsin, you hear considerable debate whether Favre's desire to keep playing is dragging down a young Green Bay team that needs to develop former Cal standout Aaron Rodgers.

But how can you jettison a guy who still makes you instinctively rise from your seat, every time that perfect throw leaves his hands?

Late in the third quarter, Favre forgot all the retirement blather, the 15 interceptions and the three-game losing streak. He rolled out wide, pump faked twice -- "I caught a lot of grief for that,'' Favre admitted later -- and nailed a 68-yard touchdown pass to his guy, Donald Driver.

But that wasn't enough. While Driver was being congratulated by teammates, Favre stormed downfield toward the end zone. He pumped his fists, grabbed Driver and threw him over his right shoulder like a rag doll.

For those keeping score, that's three Driver-over-the-shoulder encounters in 2006. Apparently, Favre waited until he was 36 or so to begin hoisting his favorite receivers like a wrestler.

And every one of those moves means something.

"My biggest thing is, I just want to be a part of his legacy. And he has that,'' Driver said. "When it's all said and done, I'm just going to be happy that Brett and I have three pickups.''

Driver and Favre have been together for eight seasons, and 31 of Driver's 33 regular-season career touchdown catches have come from the hands of No. 4.

"It was a slant route and when Brett scrambles and he has that much time, I'm going to the end zone,'' Driver said of Favre's 68-yard touchdown pass. "I turned around and started running to that corner and Brett threw it that way.

"Actually, he already threw it before I broke out. So it was perfect.''

It was again on Sunday, at least for one more magical week. The 49ers are now 1-11 against the graying Favre, but San Francisco fans got another dazzling, treasured snapshot of a great quarterback. One for the archives.

Maybe Favre isn't in his prime anymore. But for four quarters Sunday, it sure looked that way.

Nancy Gay is a good writer.


Nov 23, 2005
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Fontana, CA
Great article, thanks for posting it!! It was an awesome game for all the players...Favre played well but again we werent behind either for him to just chuck that ball down towards the endzone....that man can still play was a fun game to watch thats for sure..

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