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RUST COLUMN: Brett Favre is more of a leader than I thought
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RUST COLUMN: Brett Favre is more of a leader than I thought

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Justin Rust

Rust

There are a lot of things I remember Brett Favre for.

Late game comebacks, MVP seasons, at one point the all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns.

What never really came to mind was an unquestioned leader in the locker room. Don't take that as me knocking Favre. I just always thought Green Bay had a locker room full of leaders (yes, I thought that even as a Vikings fan) and while Favre was a guy the Packers relied on heavily, he was more of a light-hearted guy in the locker.

Turns out I was right about part of that. During Favre's leadership presentation at the CNOS Fieldhouse for the United Sports Academy on Saturday, he talked about how he was a jokester, especially early in his career. He setoff a sulfur capsule during a production meeting with John Madden, who had a sulfur allergy and had to leave the meeting because of the prank.

"I don't know if that is why he loved me so much or hated me," Favre joked. "Every time after that 'You don't have those sulfur caps do you?'"

Favre's presentation was full of fun stories like that. But most of the stories weren't in jest like that. Most of them had a point and it was about how to be a leader or what makes a leader. And with each story I learned I didn't exactly have Favre pegged quite right throughout his career.

Just because he liked to lighten the mood didn't mean he wasn't a leader. Everyone in the locker room with whatever team he was with was totally sold on what Favre could do for their team.

Even though he had only been with the Vikings a short time, they were convinced Favre was a missing piece that the team needed.

He proved it in a comeback win against San Francisco that season when he engineered a comeback.

"Down with 1:10 left and 85 yards to go and I'm thinking I didn't sign up for this," Favre joked. "(Offensive lineman) Anthony Herrera looks at me 'Four, this is why we got you!' and I am thinking how believable can I be and I am like '(Dang) right Anthony!'"

Favre went on to hit Greg Lewis in the back of the end zone on a deep pass for the game-winning score in the final seconds.

Part of the reason his teammates followed Favre is because he worked about as hard as anyone in the league. Favre was convinced he needed to work that hard in order to stave off any talk about him getting replaced.

"Every year, coming back for training camp, I would say to myself 'this is going to be my best training camp ever, they are trying to replace me,'" Favre said. "It made me fight and never losing that edge is when you have success. I kept myself motivated that there was always someone looming to take my spot."

Favre knew what it took to be a leader and he learned it early on from his coach with the Packers, Mike Holmgren, who helped lead Favre and the Packers to a Super Bowl title.

Favre admitted that he wasn't friends with Holmgren but that was by Holmgren's design, which worked to perfection since they are one of the best coach and quarterback combinations of all-time.

"(To be a leader), you have to be believable. You don't have to be likable. Go back to the greatest coach I ever played with, Mike Holmgren," Favre said. "We weren't friends and that was by design, his design. I believed every word he said, though. That is a mark of a good leader.

"What all of the guys knew that I played with, they knew I had their back. I would do all I could. To me, that's true leadership and again, it wasn't always the prettiest, it wasn't the fanciest but I wouldn't trade it for anything."

Things like that showed me Favre was more than the gunslinger I remembered and I think many younger players can take a page from Favre's book.

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