Favre shows class that is rare in NFL

By By Josh Taylor/sports writer
December 28, 2003
As I watched Brett Favre's phenomenal performance last week in the wake of his father's death, I was reminded why I am proud to be from Mississippi and proud to be a small part of Mississippi sports.
Brett Favre has been questioned year after year about when he plans to retire. Analysts say that he is past his prime, not worth the money. Favre came out less than 24 hours after learning of his father's death and threw for 399 yards and four touchdowns in one of the best games of his career.
I couldn't agree more with Wahle's feelings but for a different reason.
There is no doubt that Favre is one of the toughest quarterbacks the NFL has ever seen. I once saw him throw a lead block on a linebacker for his running back. And he did it in a preseason game. He doesn't know the meaning of the word "quit." He just plays football.
The toughness and "whatever it takes" attitude is great, but it's his class that really makes me proud. He doesn't make cell phone calls from the end zone after a touchdown. He doesn't bad mouth his teammates on national television. He doesn't throw a temper tantrum at his coach during a game. He just plays football.
Football is different in Dixie. Down in Mississippi, we don't really care if you can do the latest end zone shuffle after scoring a touchdown; we just want to see you play some football. Favre was brought up to do his talking on the field with his ability, not in the press conference with his mouth.
I will admit that I can't resist a smile when I hear a national analysts say, "Brett Favre, from the University of Southern Mississippi."
While Favre is the focus of the week, he is not the only proud son of the Magnolia state that shows class and integrity.
The hardest working man in football, Jerry Rice, is another good example.
The Crawford native and Mississippi Valley State University product is No. 1 in most of the league's receiving records and one of the greatest to ever wear a jersey, but he'll never admit it.
Watch Rice the next time he makes a touchdown. He doesn't stand on his head and twirl around. He doesn't make slashing motions across his neck. He simply hands the ball to the referee and heads back to the sidelines. He acts like he's been there before. He acts like he will be there again.
Rice is that rare species among NFL receivers who don't really care how many commercials they do. He just plays football.
There's that smile again. "From Mississippi Valley State, Jerry Rice."
How about Steve McNair. This guy has played the last four years injured and continues to produce touchdowns. He rivals Favre in his tough outlook on the quarterback position. Titans' head coach Jeff Fisher couldn't keep McNair on the sideline if he tried.
McNair never even complains about his injuries. He simply puts the pads on every Sunday and plays football.
There are many more Mississippians currently in the NFL or retired from the NFL with this same class. Deuce McAllister, Archie Manning, Walter Payton, Eric Moulds and the list goes on and on.
These guys are not there to run their mouths. They are there to play football. They don't spend all their time hiding Sharpies in their socks. They just play football.
Sure, Mississippi produces a few idiots and loud mouths. Joe Horn is a proud product of Itawamba Community College. But the vast majority of players in the NFL that come call Mississippi home are respectful, hard-working guys that keep their mouth shut and focus on winning.
You couldn't ask for better representatives for our great state than Favre, Rice and McNair. These guys are not media hogs. They don't seek out the limelight. They show respect for their careers and integrity for their actions. In short, they just play football.