Mark Brunell was Favre’s backup for two seasons before Green Bay traded him to the expansion Jacksonville Jaguars in 1995. Jason Campbell met Favre in their native Mississippi when the Redskins’ starter was still in high school.
When Brunell arrived in Green Bay as a fifth-round draft choice, Favre was just 23 and had started 13 games.
“Brett was pretty raw,” Brunell recalled. “He was one extreme or the other. It was either a great touchdown or a young guy’s mistake. But you could tell even then … that he was going to be a very good player. Brett made some great plays, won some big games for us.”
Indeed, the Packers, 11-24 in two-plus seasons before Favre replaced Don Majkowski in Week 4 of the 1992 campaign, went 8-5 the rest of that season before starting a five-year playoff run in 1993 that included two NFC championships and a Super Bowl title. Favre threw 236 touchdown passes and 129 interceptions in those six seasons and won MVP honors from 1995 to 1997.
“[Brett was the leader] as much as a kid in his second or third year can be,” Brunell said. “He was our guy. He commanded the respect of the guys really early because he played so hard. It wasn’t always pretty, but he played so hard, and he competed and he made great plays. If it was third-and-5 and he was running for it and it took diving for the first down to keep the drive alive, Brett would do that. When guys see that, it goes a long way.”
Favre has started 242 consecutive regular-season games, more than any other quarterback in NFL history. And Favre’s 423 touchdown passes also are a record.
“It was great for me to come in and learn under him for a couple of years,” Brunell said. “I took a lot from him. Working hard, taking care of his body. Every time you would go in there in the morning, he would be on the stairmaster or the treadmill. He practiced hard. He studied. But what I took most from him was how he would compete in the game. He would go out there and give absolutely all he had and would make some incredible plays.”
Campbell met Favre, a native of Kiln, Miss., the summer before his senior year at Taylorsville (Miss.) High because they both worked with the same personal trainer in nearby Hattiesburg.
“To see Brett throw in person was amazing,” Campbell recalled. “He was throwing so hard he was bursting the blood vessels in [the personal trainer’s] hand. Brett was tremendous [to me]. He said, ‘Stay dedicated to the game. Play it for the love. Enjoy it. You’re headed in the right direction.’ ”
Eight years later, Campbell will duel with one of his idols Sunday when the 3-1 Redskins visit the 4-1 Packers at Lambeau Field.
“It will be really special because I’ll get to see Brett again and play against him,” Campbell said. “I can’t wait for the opportunity to talk to him again and get his input about how I’m doing and some things I can improve on.”
Campbell considers the eight-time Pro Bowl selection’s career achievements mind-boggling.
“You can [only] imagine the pounding Brett’s taken without missing a game,” the 25-year-old said. “I would have to play 15 more years to match that. And it’s hard to throw touchdowns in the NFL.”
Like Brunell, Campbell has been inspired by Favre, who turned 38 today.