Most football fans believe star players know significantly more about the game than they do. Sometimes, they don’t.
Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre, in his third NFL season and second as the Green Bay starter, didn’t know some of the most fundamental aspects of defensive alignments in football.
“I would always sit in these meetings,” Favre said in a video from a speaking engagement recently posted on Twitter by Zach Dunn. “If you don’t know what’s going on, the trick is to act like you do. And I’m the starting quarterback, and [coach Mike] Holmgren would be up there and he’d say, ‘All right, look guys,’ he’s writing nickel defenses in, ‘We’re gonna do this, we’re gonna attack this.’ I’d always be sitting there going, ‘I hear this ‘nickel defense’ all the time but I’m not real sure what it is.’ Then he’d throw me for a loop and he’d say, ‘Long yardage situation, dime comes in.’ Dime, what the hell is dime? They would say, ‘Over under front’ and, ‘You got this, 3-4.’ I was afraid to ask, I’m the starter. Ty Detmer was over there.
“After about our second year, finally I said, I just got to know, ‘Ty, I got to ask you a question.’ Ty was about as goofy as I was. He says, ‘What’s that?’ I say, ‘What’s the nickel defense?’ He’s just real quiet, he says, ‘You serious?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I’m serious.’ He says, ‘Well, they basically take out a linebacker and bring in a DB.’
“I said, ‘That’s it?’ He said, ‘That’s it.’ I said, ‘Who gives a sh-t?'”
And that’s part of what made Favre such a unique personality in the NFL, with supreme talent overcoming his lack of concern about details. It’s hard not to wonder how he’d make it in today’s NFL, where quarterbacks make a full and complete commitment to their craft, relishing practice as much as they relish playing.