Perhaps no part of the 2016 Hall of Fame induction ceremony was more powerful and moving than Brett Favre’s 36-minute speech. He led out that speech saying that it was an honor to be in the same class as Ken Stabler because it was Stabler who he watched that made him want to play football.
He later mentioned several of the players who came before him at Southern Mississippi, singling out Ray Guy who was enshrined in 2014.
But perhaps the most memorable and riveting part of his speech was when he spoke of his father.
As many of you know, Brett Favre’s father died the night before he was to face the Raiders in Oakland back in 2003. Leading up to the game, it was uncertain whether he would even play. After all, most people probably wouldn’t or possibly couldn’t. Not Brett Favre. He wanted to play the game in honor of his father. And one of the NFL’s classic games was born.
In that game, he threw for 399 yards and 4 touchdowns with a near perfect passer rating of 154.9. And the Packers routed the Raiders 41-7. That game is watchable in its entirety at the end of this article.
When he had thanked everyone else in his family, Favre gave his father a moving and honorable tribute. One that also had a nod to Raiders fans and the city of Oakland for his game experience that day. Here is his entire 8:30 tribute to his father. I thought of only transcribing parts or clipping it up, but in the end decided it all needed to stay.
"And last but certainly not least is my father. And I’ll tell, of course it’s been talked about a lot; the Oakland game. I’ll tell you a story. My father would’ve introduced me here tonight and Deana and I, after the game in Oakland, had chartered a plane. Our two daughters had went to Mississippi, she flew out late Saturday night and was there throughout. We had chartered a flight back from Oakland to get Christmas gifts back to Green Bay, take a brief nap and go to the service, and Christmas back in Mississippi.
"And let me say this first about NFL fans – Oakland Raider fans in particular. That night… and I had played in Oakland before and I think everyone here who has played in Oakland, either as the home team or the away team, will all agree, they can be downright nasty. I’ve seen it, I’ve witnessed it. But I’ll say this; that night, the tremendous respect and honor that was shown to me and my family from the Oakland Raider fans was spectacular.
"And although we didn’t ask for it, Deana and I got a police escort to the airport that I can promise you would’ve made any president proud. So I say thank you from the bottom of my heart."
"On our flight back; it was a long flight as you can imagine there was a lot of emotions as we just won the game and it was probably the best game that I’d ever played in, but that really didn’t matter at that point. We laughed, we cried, we tried to sleep, and we laughed and we cried. And one time in particular Deana says to me…
"You had to know my father. My father was short on praise and long on tough love. If he was ever to praise me, I was not to hear it. It was always ‘You can do better’. He was always pushing me to be better. That was ok. Never did I hear him say ‘Son, you’ve arrived. You’re the best. That was awesome. Great game’. It was always ‘Yeah, but…’
"So, Deana says to me on the plane; ‘you know your dad had said to me that he had hoped or could not wait for the day that you were inducted into the Hall of Fame so he could introduce you.
"And up until that moment, I had never thought about the Hall of Fame… I had dreamed of playing in the NFL way more than I thought about my schoolwork. I thought about being Archie Manning running around throwing underhand passes. I thought about being my childhood favorite Roger Staubach, throwing it to Drew Pierson, handing it off to Tony Dorsett. Being Kenny Stabler coming out of the tunnel. I’d thought of those things so many times, but I never thought of the Hall of Fame until that moment.
"And so a new goal had entered my mind then and there. And I said to myself ‘I will make it to the Hall of Fame’ so I could acknowledge the fact of how important he was… (choked up). This is tougher than any third and 15 I can assure you. So, I could acknowledge the importance of him in my career and my life. Which was a tremendous part of my life. He taught me toughness. Boy did he teach me toughness. Trust me, there was no room for crybabies in our house.
"He taught me teamwork and by all means no player was ever more important than the team. And my father, for those who don’t know, chose to run the wishbone, which some of you young generation don’t know what that is, but it never entailed throwing. But that was the type of coach he was and that was the type of dad he was. He would never showcase his son’s talents or anyone else’s talents for their good rather than the team’s good.
"And so then and there in that moment on that plane, I was determined for selfish reasons to get to this point to acknowledge how important he was. I would not be here before you today without my father. There’s no doubt whatsoever.
"One more thing about my father -- and this is something I’ve never told anyone. My dad was my high school football coach, he was the head football coach, he coached me and my two brothers. But I never had a car growing up. I always rode to and from school with my father in his truck and so he was always the last one to leave the building because he had to turn the light off, lock up, and then we made our way home.
"It was the last high school football game of my high school career. And although I don’t remember how I had played before, and I don’t remember how I played in the last game, what I do remember is sitting outside the coach’s office, say on a Wednesday, waiting for my father to come out so that we could leave. It was dark and I overheard my father talking to the three other coaches, and I assume I didn’t play as well the previous week only because of what he said. He said ‘I can assure you one thing about my son; he will play better, he will redeem himself. I know my son, he has it in him.’
"I never let him know that I heard that. I never said that to anyone else, but I thought to myself, that’s a pretty good compliment, you know? My chest kinda swole up, and again I never told anyone, but I never forgot that statement. That comment that he made to those other coaches, and I want you to know dad I spent the rest of my career trying to redeem myself (choked up).
"But I spent the rest of my career trying to redeem myself and make him proud. I hope I succeeded (sobbing).
"So, never discount the importance of being a father. And statements that you make. Whether you think your kids hear. You’re very important to your children. And the lesson is we come and go very quickly. So, love them each and every day."