The Long Con: How Brett Favre’s self-sabotage in Atlanta landed him in the Hall of Fame

Adam Patrick

When thinking back about the NFL career of Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre, him throwing crazy touchdown passes in a green and yellow Green Bay Packers jersey is the image that normally pops into most football fans’ heads. However, most people don’t know that Favre actually spent his very first season in the league as a member of the Atlanta Falcons back in 1991.

After his senior season at Southern Mississippi in which he only threw seven touchdowns in 11 games, Favre ended up being the third quarterback to hear his name called at the 1991 NFL Draft. He had interest from other teams, but the Atlanta Falcons snagged him in the second round with the 33rd overall selection.

Following the Falcons drafting of the quarterback, Favre’s agent made the odd move of checking in with a few Canadian Football League teams to gauge their interest in his player according Jeff Pearlman’s biography on the polarizing quarterback, “Gunslinger: The Remarkable, Improbable, Iconic Life of Brett Favre.” This resulted in Atlanta coach Jerry Glanville wanting nothing to do with Favre and the quarterback did not end up signing a contract with the Falcons until one day before the team opened training camp in 1991.

Favre posing with his best bud, Falcons head coach Jerry Glanville, back in 1991. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Favre posing with his best bud, Falcons head coach Jerry Glanville, back in 1991. (Photo Source: Twitter)

After Atlanta traded for quarterback Billy Joe Tolliver right before the regular season, Favre ended up as the third signal caller on the team’s depth chart. Since he did not think his name would ever be called to play during any of the Falcons’ games, the young quarterback opted to party like he was still in back in college at Southern Mississippi.

“I just said, ‘The hell with it.’ I went out every night, gained weight and was out of shape. I didn’t study, I didn’t care. I’d show up just in time for the meetings, and I’d be out of there the second the meetings were over.”

Brett Favre, on his rookie season in Atlanta

Favre actually ended up playing in part of two of the Falcons’ games in 1991. He did not throw any passes during his first appearance against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 9, but in Week 11 the quarterback got an opportunity to chuck a few passes against the undefeated Washington Redskins.

The results were not surprising.

Favre's time with the Falcons was very forgettable. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Favre’s time with the Falcons was very forgettable. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Of the four passes Favre threw versus the Redskins, none of them were caught by his teammates and two of them were intercepted by Washington defenders.

His first actual pass in an NFL regular season game was intercepted and returned for a touchdown by Redskins linebacker Andre Collins. Knowing what we know now about Favre and his jovial personality, the young quarterback reacted to the play as expected.

“Can you believe that, Coach? My first pass in an NFL game went for a touchdown!”

Favre, after his first NFL pass in 1991

Despite the quarterback’s lack of success and effort during his rookie season, he was still drawing interest from other teams around the NFL. The general manager of the Green Bay Packers at the time, Ron Wolf, was intrigued by the skills of Favre dating back to before he was even drafted into the league.

In 1992, Wolf and the Packers were able to acquire the quarterback from the Falcons in exchange for a first-round pick in that year’s draft. Two seasons later, Atlanta fired Glanville and Favre was coming off two straight years of getting voted to the Pro Bowl.

Trading the quarterback was obviously not one of the smartest moves the Falcons made during their existence.

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