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Thank you Mark McHale!!!!

Discussion in 'Green Bay Packers Fan Forum' started by IronMan, Mar 9, 2008.

  1. IronMan

    IronMan Cheesehead

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    Nov 23, 2006
    Springfield, MO

    'The boy's got an arm'

    Favre's talent almost went unnoticed out of high school

    By Rob Demovsky
    [email protected]

    Even now, after more than two decades, Mark McHale wonders what made him reconsider and take another trip to the backwoods of Kiln, Miss.

    In a way, he's haunted by it.

    Why, when every bit of his football intelligence and all those years of evaluating players told him otherwise, did he give this kid a second thought?

    And — here's the part that really scares him — what would have happened if he hadn't?

    The man — the only man — who recruited the raw quarterback out of Hancock North Central High School shuddered at the notion that everyone in the football world, himself included, came so perilously close to bypassing Brett Favre.

    "I've thought about that a million times," McHale said in a phone interview this past week. "There were a lot of things that had to happen in order for all of this to happen."

    Today, it seems unfathomable that Favre was not predestined for a life in football. On Tuesday, he walked away from the Green Bay Packers and the NFL with an unprecedented three Most Valuable Player awards, a Super Bowl ring and just about every passing record the league tracks.

    Only minutes after Favre said goodbye during a tearful news conference on Thursday at Lambeau Field, McHale recalled the happenstance meeting that gave him reason to question his gut feeling on his first trip to Kiln.

    Favre's foray into big-time football probably never should have happened. McHale was in his first season as an assistant coach at Southern Mississippi. His recruiting area included Kiln and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Working off a list of potential recruits compiled by the previous offensive line coach, Bill D'Andrea, who left for Clemson, McHale set out to find players, including quarterbacks.

    Favre was nowhere on his list.

    "I'm down there on the Gulf Coast and some assistant coaches asked me, 'Have you seen that quarterback at Hancock North Central?'" McHale said. "So I checked my master list, and he wasn't on there, so I just said, 'Well, I trust the guy who had been through this area before me.' Then I heard it a second time and when I heard it a third time, I looked up Hancock North Central and called the head coach. So that's where it started."

    The head coach was Brett's father, Irvin.

    Knowing next to nothing about the Favres, McHale showed up at his high school eager to find out why those nearby coaches talked him up. He sat down at a desk inside a rickety fieldhouse where Irvin Favre had his coaching office. There were tapes scattered about, and McHale settled in to watch.

    "I didn't see anything," McHale said. "Bless his heart, Irvin was running the Wing-T (offense), and all Brett was doing was handing it off. We couldn't even find a pass on the tape. There were tapes everywhere, and there's none of Brett throwing the ball. I was walking out to the car after watching film, and in my mind it had been a wasted trip. All of a sudden, Irvin caught Brett out of the corner of his eye on the side of the fieldhouse, and Brett was there lifting weights.

    "Irvin yelled, 'C'mere boy.' And Irvin looked at me and said, 'That's my quarterback, coach.' Brett looked me right in the eye and shook my hand and said, 'Coach, I can play for you,' just oozing with confidence."

    Recruiting rules prevented McHale from talking to high school players at that time, so McHale shook the young quarterback's hand and left.

    "Driving out of there, I was going back over my recruiting like I always did, and I couldn't get him out of my mind. I said, 'There's something about this kid. I've got to check him out.'"

    McHale called back and promised he'd come to a game. After watching Favre throw some of the hardest, deepest passes he'd ever seen in pre-game warm-ups, he couldn't wait for the game to begin.

    "The boy's got an arm," McHale said. "Now let me see if he can play. But then in the game, it was the same as on the tapes. He didn't throw the ball."

    At halftime, McHale recalled that a group of fans were yelling at Irvin for his play calling. McHale only later discovered those fans were all Favre family members. Even they knew a game like that wasn't going to be enough to convince a college recruiter that Favre was worth a scholarship. McHale conveyed that to Irvin, who convinced him to come back a second time. That time, Favre threw only four passes in the first half.

    Again disappointed, McHale decided to stay for the second half only because it was too late to get to another game. Finally, McHale saw what he wanted to see. On a broken play in the second half, Favre scrambled and unloaded a pass that he said "had flames and smoke coming off it."

    "When I saw him in that second game," McHale said, "I said, 'This boy's got an NFL arm, period, end of discussion. Now, let's get him on campus.'"

    That wasn't easy. McHale had to present a case to the rest of the coaching staff just to get Favre's name on their recruiting board. He showed the tapes to other members of the staff and most dismissed Favre. Meanwhile, Irvin kept badgering McHale, saying Brett had an offer from Delta State, a small school in Cleveland, Miss.

    "There was no scholarship from Delta State," McHale said. "Irvin was trying to push us, but he had absolutely nothing — not a single offer from anyone. When I talked to Brett for the book, he didn't remember anybody at Delta State offering him anything."

    By then, McHale was convinced Favre could play at Southern Miss.

    "We'd be in those recruiting meetings and I would get all jacked up about Brett," McHale said. "Jim Carmody, the head coach, would say, "Mark, can he play another position? If we get him in as a quarterback, and he can't play quarterback, is he athletic enough to play something else?' I told him that Brett could play safety, tight end or linebacker."

    Still, there was no scholarship for Favre even after his official visit. Three days later, on the eve of the signing day, a linebacker from Atlanta whose name no one can remember turned down Southern Miss. Carmody asked McHale if "that Favre boy" was still available because "I'd like to put him in that defensive slot that we lost."

    "The thinking was he'd come in and be a safety," McHale said.

    Favre thought otherwise. After a decent showing in a preseason scrimmage, Favre thought he was ready to play but opened the season as the No. 3 quarterback.

    "We opened with Alabama, and he's all excited," McHale said. "It's his first college game, and he comes up to me in the locker room and says, 'Coach, I'm ready. I'm ready.' Well that sucker doesn't know what a play is. So before the next game against Tulane, he did the same thing. And I was literally kidding but said, 'By golly you better be ready Brett Favre because your butt's going in.' And he started running around the locker room going, 'Oh my God, Oh my God.'"

    Unbeknownst to anyone but Carmody, Favre was about to get his chance.

    "The way he performed in August, I knew he was going to play," Carmody said. "But he was a young freshman. He was 17, and I didn't think a 17-year old should start against Alabama. That's when they were really good, and I didn't want to put him under that pressure."

    Southern Miss got drilled 38-6 in the season opener, prompting Carmody to accelerate his plan to play Favre even though he knew his young quarterback knew only a fraction of the plays.

    "I didn't discuss it with anyone," Carmody said, "but I felt like if we didn't get the ball moving against Tulane, I was going to put him into the game."

    The game was tied 14-14 at halftime and when Tulane made it 21-14 early in the third quarter, Favre got the call. On his first drive, Favre led Southern Miss down the field and threw a touchdown, running around and celebrating like a madman. He threw another touchdown and led Southern Miss to a 31-24 victory without "really knowing what he was doing," according to McHale.

    Tulane's head coach in that game was Mack Brown, the current Texas coach, who had no idea who Favre was.

    "There was no film on him — none," Brown said. "I know Jim Carmody and had heard he was possibly thinking of playing this true freshman quarterback. I'll never forget my thought was, 'Good. Put a true freshman in the game against us in the second half. Good. Then the game's over.'

    "He came in and beat us, and I was just in shock. He was unbelievable. He just made plays. I remember people grabbing him by the jersey and him pulling away and throwing it down the field. I remember him just flipping the ball to a guy. He just made plays, and of course it's been history ever since then."

    History that seemingly changed based on McHale's face-to-face meeting with Favre on that first visit to Kiln.

    "If I hadn't run into him there that day, it was over," said McHale, who turned the story of Favre's recruitment into a book called "10 to 4" released in 2007. "There were a lot of things that had to happen in order for him to get a scholarship. But whatever that persona is that you see, I picked that up the first day I met him. That's what brought me back."
  2. NDPackerFan

    NDPackerFan Cheesehead

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    May 20, 2005
    North Dakota
    Coach Favre must have had one hell of a backfield not to let Brett throw the ball in high school...wow
  3. PackinSteel

    PackinSteel Cheesehead

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    Nov 22, 2005
    Fontana, CA
    Nice read, thanks MidWest!
  4. favre2driver

    favre2driver Cheesehead

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    Jan 8, 2008
    warren nj
    wow, simply amazing. Nice find.
  5. Jamie

    Jamie Cheesehead

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    Feb 5, 2008
    Upper Michigan
    Very interesting read. I may have to go and buy the book now. :D
  6. evad04

    evad04 Cheesehead

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    Apr 30, 2007
    That was great. Thanks.
  7. Packnic

    Packnic Cheesehead

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    Mar 28, 2006
    Salisbury, NC
    thats a freakin movie script.
  8. Tiger

    Tiger Cheesehead

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    Sep 9, 2006
    if they make a movie about Favre who would play the lead role?

    Al Pacino would play Greg Jennings of course.
  9. cheesey

    cheesey Cheesehead

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    Nov 24, 2005
    If they made a movie about the Detroit Lions, they could get Tom Hanks to play Matt Millen. After all, he did a great job playing Forrest Gump!
    (Of course he'd have to dumb it down a bit!) :lol:
    "Hi! My name's Matt........Matt Millen!"

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