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Brett Favre didn’t know what nickel defense was, as an NFL starting quarterback

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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.

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55 Responses to “Brett Favre didn’t know what nickel defense was, as an NFL starting quarterback”
  1. widerightyouloseagain says: Jun 7, 2017 11:57 AM

    This has been out there for many years, I’ve seen Favre say it on video numerous times on the NFL Network.

  2. joetoronto says: Jun 7, 2017 12:01 PM

    “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.”

    Seriously?

    The QB situation in the NFL absolutely stinks, it’s full of “QB’s” that can’t pass and rely on running instead.

    He do better than ever now.

  3. The Phantom Stranger says: Jun 7, 2017 12:02 PM

    It’s nice to see that Packer fans carry on the tradition by displaying their lack of football knowledge on this site every day.

  4. meadowlandssports says: Jun 7, 2017 12:02 PM

    Not knowing what ‘nickel’ and ‘dime’ meant could very well explain his interceptions…

  5. txrawdog says: Jun 7, 2017 12:07 PM

    This is both hilarious and awesome.

  6. franfoley says: Jun 7, 2017 12:08 PM

    If he were playing today…he’d still be in the top 5 with Brady, Brees, Rogers, and the like. Right now in 2017, he could probably outplay Flacco, Newton, Manning, Cousins and all those other cats out here.

  7. coachkilla6 says: Jun 7, 2017 12:09 PM

    Remember when he and AP sabotaged their own Viking team to keep them out of the Super Bowl?

    Classic Favre.

  8. joeychittwood says: Jun 7, 2017 12:10 PM

    Well now that I know this it just further confirms that a complete lack of knowoledge of the game or how to play QB has nothing to do with why Kaepernik is still unemployed

  9. maiphatdong says: Jun 7, 2017 12:12 PM

    welcome to 2007

  10. bobthebillsfan says: Jun 7, 2017 12:17 PM

    For once I agree with JoeT. In today’s protect the QB, no hitting defenseless receivers Brett’s 508/366 TD/INT numbers might be double. He would light it up.

  11. clemenza58 says: Jun 7, 2017 12:18 PM

    Must be a slow news day.

  12. peoriaviking says: Jun 7, 2017 12:21 PM

    He knew what it was, just didn’t catch the terminology for what it was called.

  13. hawkstradamus says: Jun 7, 2017 12:22 PM

    And that’s why he’s the goat, not trophies

  14. sportoficionado says: Jun 7, 2017 12:30 PM

    Well, he doesn’t have the highest Int percentage for a hofer for nothing. Many say he was a gunslinger ( and i’de have to concur) but most of those risks were taken because the man simply did not know (or care) what the defense was trying to do to him.

  15. arcross12042004scorp15 says: Jun 7, 2017 12:34 PM

    Probably why he holds the record for the most interceptions in a career. ed

  16. jonathankrobinson424 says: Jun 7, 2017 12:38 PM

    He’s one of many great QB’s I miss in the NFL.

  17. boisestatewhodat says: Jun 7, 2017 12:39 PM

    He didn’t know what a Saints defense was either!

    XLIV!!

  18. amaf21 says: Jun 7, 2017 12:40 PM

    I smell another Farve comeback in the making.

  19. boiler72 says: Jun 7, 2017 12:41 PM

    That exact quote from Favre needs to be framed and immortalized. That is sheer brilliance, lol.

  20. jonathankrobinson424 says: Jun 7, 2017 12:43 PM

    He’s also one of many great QB’s that truly loved the game and it showed ON THE FIELD. The NFL better hope they keep getting young guys that LOVE the game and are talented….Carr has it…Winston has it…Wentz has it Prescott has it.

  21. bradjames33160 says: Jun 7, 2017 12:53 PM

    Favre was never a student of the game. Jeff Pearlman’s book “Gunslinger” makes that quite clear. He was a great athlete and QB, but a terrible technician.

  22. Slow Joe (Bucs fan) says: Jun 7, 2017 12:55 PM

    I miss Favre.

    Though I’m glad my Bucs don’t have to play against him anymore.

  23. tjacks7 says: Jun 7, 2017 12:59 PM

    In his second to last year, he didn’t know one of the most basic QB rules… don’t throw the ball back across the field. As evidenced by his game ending INT in the NFCCG.

  24. mazenblue says: Jun 7, 2017 1:05 PM

    meadowlandssports says:
    Jun 7, 2017 12:02 PM

    Not knowing what ‘nickel’ and ‘dime’ meant could very well explain his interceptions…
    ………….
    says someone who never seen him play….He is known for his fearless bullets in tight windows, is why he has those interceptions.

  25. akira1971 says: Jun 7, 2017 1:06 PM

    akira1971 says:
    Jun 7, 2017 12:33 PM

    “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.”
    ——————

    That “lack of concern about details” led to 336 career interceptions, some at the worst possible moments of the game (NFCC vs 2010 Saints, vs 2007 Giants, vs 1995 Cowboys, etc.)

    Instead of just one SB, Favre should’ve had 3-4 and been up there in the discussion with the Bradys and Montanas.

  26. tennesseeoilers says: Jun 7, 2017 1:12 PM

    And they gave Vince Young a hard time because he was only reading the right side of the defense?

    😉

  27. purpleguy says: Jun 7, 2017 1:12 PM

    Lord Favre was and is pretty damn great

  28. genericcommenter says: Jun 7, 2017 1:15 PM

    Depends on the team. Some will value complete dedication to the playbook and details and others will make exceptions for physical talent. To all those saying he would be better than ever due to the dearth of talented pocket passers, I think a lot of that depends on the coach and situation.

  29. bostonceltics says: Jun 7, 2017 1:16 PM

    Sounds like the line from Tom Cruise’s stock car movie.Cruise and Duvall a have a talk about tire wear a few scenes later they are in a bar and Cruise confesses that all he i s a driver and did not know the NASCAR lingo .So Duvall tells him to listen and learn so he could make the most of his god given skills.
    We up here know the truth Favre’s ring was given to him by the Tuna when he booked the Jets job instead of prepping his team .Kraft was wrong in not letting the Tuna help pick the groceries but to let his team down was and still is a selfish move.

  30. Frazier28/7 says: Jun 7, 2017 1:18 PM

    Seriously? Who hasn’t heard that story.

    Are you also surprised to learn he played his best game vs Oakland days after his father passed?

  31. tvguy22 says: Jun 7, 2017 1:18 PM

    Strange. He seems so book-smart.

  32. milkcan44 says: Jun 7, 2017 1:24 PM

    In the 2nd half of his career he was known to spend a great deal of time in the film room.

  33. patsfan4lifesbchamps says: Jun 7, 2017 1:25 PM

    GOAT gunslinger QB

  34. braddavery says: Jun 7, 2017 1:28 PM

    Why do people waste time proclaiming this as old news. If only a handful of people have never heard it, then it did it’s job. I never heard it before and I love it. It’s sure better than your lame ‘Derp, old news.’ posts.

  35. artvan15 says: Jun 7, 2017 1:31 PM

    I would not admit that. Shows how stupid he was. Never put the time in to learn anything. That is why he had so many interceptions.

  36. routerunner says: Jun 7, 2017 1:38 PM

    The Old Gunslinger doesn’t have time for your fancy book learnin’.

  37. GenXJ says: Jun 7, 2017 1:40 PM

    Doesn’t surprise me. Information overload these days. Too much technicalities for many of today’s qb’s resulting in players saying, “it’s not fun anymore.”
    Lord Favre, however, was one of the best Viking & knew how to have fun.

  38. youdrivemenutseagles says: Jun 7, 2017 1:49 PM

    No Google back then.😂

  39. bubbybrister/shovelpass says: Jun 7, 2017 1:51 PM

    He may not be smart, But he was bright enuff to press SEND on his cell phone image to Sturgess.

  40. touchdownroddywhite says: Jun 7, 2017 2:03 PM

    This is why people loved Favre. He was like a kid on the sand lot, just living the dream and loving the game. Brett Favre approached football the way Roy McAvoy approached golf in ‘Tin Cup’

    McAvoy: ‘Just keep shooting for par, a-hole!’
    Simms: ‘I’ll take 18 of them all day long’
    McAvoy: ‘Do it and I’ll own you’

  41. mmmpierogi says: Jun 7, 2017 2:09 PM

    I like this story. I feel like I’ve heard it about 30 times now, though.

  42. teal379 says: Jun 7, 2017 2:09 PM

    It’s common knowledge. Up there with water is wet.

    That work ethic is also why GB was ok with moving onto AR. AR was breaking down the defenses in study and providing the crib notes to Brett. When coaches caught on – they knew AR was ready to go.

    Not slagging Brett – just saying – homework was never his thing.

  43. realfootballfan says: Jun 7, 2017 2:50 PM

    It’s why he made Holmgren pull his hair out, but at least Holmgren had enough sense to see the talent and let him work through it instead of publicly feuding with him, which all to often is what we’ve seen with some coaches who have to play the parent role instead of realize that not every guy who is supremely talented is going to “grind.” What matters is what he does in between those lines.

  44. atthemurph says: Jun 7, 2017 3:56 PM

    sportoficionado says:
    Jun 7, 2017 12:30 PM
    Well, he doesn’t have the highest Int percentage for a hofer for nothing. Many say he was a gunslinger ( and i’de have to concur) but most of those risks were taken because the man simply did not know (or care) what the defense was trying to do to him.

    ————–

    Except he doesn’t have the highest interception percentage for a HOF. His INT % over his career was 3.3%.

    The list of HOFers whose percentage was higher is expansive. But some of the names on that list are Jim Kelly, Warren Moon, Roger Staubach, Fran Tarkenton and many others.

  45. tndiver says: Jun 7, 2017 4:01 PM

    I think his quote shows he wasn’t familiar with the terminology, not the defense. And like he said, who cares. If a WR is open, why would a QB care if its a LB or CB covering him? And what, if there is a Nickel or Dime, you can’t throw the ball?? Favre also had more faith in his WR’s and was not afraid to sling the 50/50 ball and let his WR’s go up and get it. That’s why his WR’s loved him.

  46. cornerblitz says: Jun 7, 2017 4:21 PM

    tndiver says:
    Jun 7, 2017 4:01 PM

    I think his quote shows he wasn’t familiar with the terminology, not the defense. And like he said, who cares. If a WR is open, why would a QB care if its a LB or CB covering him? And what, if there is a Nickel or Dime, you can’t throw the ball?? Favre also had more faith in his WR’s and was not afraid to sling the 50/50 ball and let his WR’s go up and get it. That’s why his WR’s loved him.

    =============================

    It does help to know where to look for mismatches, and therefore have an idea of where to look after the snap for open receivers. It is important he eventually learned.

  47. charger383 says: Jun 7, 2017 4:53 PM

    and the fans liked him

  48. laserw says: Jun 7, 2017 9:13 PM

    ROFL.

    Campbell’s Chunky Puke spokesperson, Donovan McNubb, didn’t know OT rules.

    Former Washington Redskins Halloween QB Costume wearer and four premium draft choice historic draft bust thought it was illegal for the opposing team to play defense against him and never could read a defense.

  49. txpatriot says: Jun 7, 2017 9:15 PM

    Brett is not alone. My guess is most fans who talk about “1-technique” and “3-technique” haven’t the first clue what they are talking about.

  50. ibillwt says: Jun 7, 2017 10:50 PM

    That might explain why he made some of those dumbazz big game picks on third down. Also pretty well summarizes why Brady has 5 rings and is the Greatest Football Player of All Time despite less athletic ability.

  51. filthymcnasty3 says: Jun 7, 2017 11:44 PM

    In a similar situation in MN, he asked his backup where the Vikings kept their Lombardi trophies.

    Talk about awkward moments.

  52. TheVikingsHaveHowManySBTrophys? says: Jun 8, 2017 10:47 PM

    charger383 says:
    Jun 7, 2017 4:53 PM
    and the fans liked him
    ***********************************
    NO. We loved him ! The man brought excitement on the field everytime he stepped on it.

  53. eaglesw00t says: Jun 9, 2017 7:51 AM

    Eagles fans and Brian Dawkins miss playing against Favre and those Packers.

    4th and 26…

    Then the hail mary to Dawkins ftw lol

  54. ibillwt says: Jun 9, 2017 11:29 AM

    He is known for his fearless bullets in tight windows, is why he has those interceptions.
    ————————————–
    evidently his “bullets” were too slow and the “tight windows” were too tight, or maybe his “fearless” was plain damn stupid and lazy.

    I’ll take the GOAT up in Foxboro for the greatest combo platter of fearless, guts, toughness, smarts, and work ethic.

  55. absolutevisuals says: Jun 9, 2017 1:24 PM

    Favre is a gunslinger by definition. If you were open, he threw it. If you were going to get open, he threw it. If he thought you were open, he threw it. If you weren’t open at all but he felt the ball needed to go your way, he threw it. Nickle? Dime? The complexity is for everybody else. His job is to just throw the ball.

    And he made the sport fun by doing it.

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