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Teammates turned into fans in Favre’s presence, speaking in hushed tones with almost universal reverence for his accomplishments and leadership.

Kicker Ryan Longwell recalled a team meeting in his rookie year with the Packers when GM Ron Wolf asked the group what was needed to get the team back to the Super Bowl.

“Without missing a beat, this Hall of Fame Brett Favre, MVP of the league, a couple years previously, says, ‘You know what we really need? We really need a water softener in the shower,’” Longwell said with a chuckle. “That early on in my career told me everything I needed to know about Brett and the direction that he was going and the joy he had just playing the game.”

Even his coaches were enamored. When Favre was in New York in 2008, then-Jets coach Eric Mangini’s son was born on Oct. 10, the same birthday as Favre. Mangini named the boy Zack Brett.

“He was my favorite player when I was a kid and the only jersey I ever owned was a Brett Favre jersey when he was at Green Bay,” Vikings rookie running back Toby Gerhart said.

Favre’s storybook romance with Green Bay ended poorly. He first started hinting at retirement after the turn of the century, then chafed when the Packers selected Aaron Rodgers in the first round in 2005. He announced his retirement during a tearful press conference in 2008, only to change his mind and force his way out in a trade to the New York Jets.

After the Packers beat the Vikings for the second time this season, coach Mike McCarthy was asked if he was happy to be rid of the “Favre vs. the Packers” storyline for good.

“I’m rid of it,” McCarthy huffed to the reporter. “You need to get rid of it.”

An accomplished rambler, Favre was as skilled at controlling the message in his press conferences as any athlete, his slow Southern drawl masking a razor sharp ability to turn the conversation. It was on display throughout his final, disappointing season in Minnesota, especially when he was confronted about allegations that he sent lewd pictures and messages Jenn Sterger.

In the end, he was fined $50,000 by the NFL for failing to cooperate with the investigation.

Favre didn’t wear a Vikings hat at his final press conference. Instead, he donned a Navy blue baseball cap with a gray No. 4 on it, one final reminder that he does things his way.

“Wonderful experience,” Favre said. “Wouldn’t change it for anything.”


AP Sports Writers Chris Jenkins in Green Bay, Wis., Dave Campbell in Eden Prairie, Minn., and Teresa M. Walker in Nashville contributed to this story.