Author Jeff Pearlman offers an enthralling look inside the Packers organization during its finest years, and the humble beginnings and awkward end of the Brett Favre era in Green Bay, in his new book “Gunslinger: The Remarkable, Improbable, Iconic Life of Brett Favre.”
Over his two years conducting research, Pearlman spoke to 573 people. But dealing with the Packers organization directly, he explained to 106.7 The Fan’s Chad Dukes and Chris Russell, was the worst part of the writing process.
“I hated dealing with the Packers,” Pearlman disclosed Wednesday. “I haven’t said that anywhere before right now — hated. I found them secretive, guarded, uncomfortable, awkward. I was coming off a book I did on the Lakers, called ‘Showtime,’ and you’ll never hear me say a bad word about Jeanie Buss or the Lakers — they were fantastic.
“I mean, think a lot of it had to do with Favre. I was out there a lot right before he came back last year and they were really nervous, like really nervous, because it was an awkward parting, obviously between them and Favre, and then he’s coming back. Just as an example — not that I’m whining or anything — but I wanted to go to his press conference when he came back, and it took forever to get a credential for that thing. And their argument was, ‘Well, you’re not a member of the working media.’ And I’m like, ‘I’ve been around a long time and I’m working on a book specifically about Brett Favre,’ and they were just like, I mean they were just really awkward. It was weird. It was weird.”
Obviously no starting quarterback wants to be replaced, and while Favre looking over his shoulder at Rodgers was widely reported at the time, Pearlman paints a scene where Rodgers contributed to their contentious relationship.
“Rodgers comes along, and it’s 2005, and Favre has been the starter forever and he hasn’t been challenged in years, since Mark Brunell was the backup,” he said. “And Rodgers comes along and he thinks he should be the first pick in the draft, and then he drops, and he’s really cocky, and he comes out of Cal, and the first time he sees Favre at the facility, he sees him, he’s eating and he goes, ‘Hey. Morning, Grandpa.’
“And Favre is like, ‘What the hell is this?’
“And then, you know, Rodgers, he was just a young, cocky kid. Like they’re at a meeting one day and Rodgers says, ‘Hey Brett, what was your Wonderlic score?’ And Favre goes, ‘I don’t know.’ And Rodgers goes, ‘Oh no, I do. It was a 22. I got a 35.’ His stuff didn’t go over well.”
“But Favre, on the other hand, did not go out of his way at all to help the kid, didn’t really want to to see him succeed,” Pearlman went on to say. “I think Favre was always haunted a little bit. He took over for Don Majkowski when Majkowski got hurt, and he saw how easy it is in that league to sort of come and then lose your place, so I think he looked at Rodgers like a chicken looking at a wolf a little bit.”
On who’s more at fault for the awkward end of Favre’s time in Green Bay: “I think far more Brett’s fault. I really do. The Packers were really good to him [for a long time]. First of all, I hate when athletes say like, ‘I’ve been really good to them for a long time.’ Like, you’re an employee. They payed you a lot of money. Right? Like that’s the bottom line. You made a ton of money playing for the Green Bay Packers and got a lot of glory.
“By the end, he was retiring, un-retiring,” he said. “Everyone knew a lot of it was like an ego play. He really wanted them to want him to come back, so he would take his time, and they would beg, and he would come back and it was just annoying. And finally he decides he’s gonna retire. He decides he’s gonna hold a press conference and the Packers say, ‘Okay. We’re gonna move on now. It’s time for Aaron Rodgers.’
“So then he says, ‘Yeah. You know what? I think I’m gonna come back.’ And the Packers don’t want him back anymore. They have Aaron Rodgers. They’ve decided to move on. Mike McCarthy’s ready for a new quarterback.”
Pearlman explains at that point Packers General Manager Ted Thompson, head coach Mike McCarthy and Favre’s agent, Bus Cook, all met at Favre’s home to try to come to a peaceful resolution.
“Favre basically says, ‘I want to go play for Minnesota, Detroit or Chicago,'” Pearlman said. “And the Packers say, ‘No. No. And no. We’re not gonna let you do that.’ And Favre was livid.”
Pearlman’s “Gunslinger” is available for purchase here.