On April 21, 1991, photographer Tim Isbell of the Biloxi Sun Herald camped out in Brett Favre's home in Fenton, Mississippi as the 21-year-old quarterback waited for a call that didn't come until after 32 other players were drafted. Favre played video games in his bedroom while family and friends milled around in homemade Draft Day t-shirts. Isbell later recalled: "My plan of not letting Favre out of my sight worked to perfection as friends and family squeezed into his bedroom to listen as Favre talked to two NFL teams. Before the Falcons could reach Favre on the phone, Favre was already talking to Ron Wolf of the New York Jets. Wolf had Favre rated as the best player in the 1991 draft and he planned on taking him with the Jets pick immediately after the Falcons. Favre informed Wolf that the Atlanta Falcons were on the other line. Favre laughed and told all in his bedroom that Wolf told him not to answer the Falcons' call."
MCT via Getty ImagesTim Isbell
Favre took the call, became the 33rd overall pick, and later suffered some growing pains in Atlanta. Meanwhile Ron Wolf left New York for Green Bay, traded for Favre and the rest, as they say... Pull back a bit and the photo is also a time capsule to almost exactly 25 years ago. The focus on "artifacts" means we're going to skip discussion of some characters in the photo, but let's quickly pause to point out: (1) the guy seated on the bed with the frosted blonde tips (2) the woman holding a camera with heavy makeup like Mimi of "The Drew Carey Show" (3) bizarro Uncle Rico leaning against the wall and (4) the mustached character in the doorway wearing thick-framed glasses and a yellow hat. Now on to the objects, which are numbered below corresponding to the number labels in the photo. (The draft photo is best viewed at full resolution -- click here.)
(1) The AT&T cordless phone
Favre is holding in his right hand a two-toned AT&T cordless phone that is now a vintage piece of telecommunications history, according to various eBay and Etsy sellers. That particular phone launched circa 1987 and several iterations of the 5300 series followed. It became very popular if not ubiquitous in American households. Check out a Sears advertisement for the 5300 model (just don't stare too long at the kind-of-creepy-looking father paper-clipped to the right). Adjusted for inflation, that phone (listed at $169 when it debuted) would sell for about $360 today. It was probably the first cordless phone many teenagers and 20-somethings like Favre used, and was quite a revelation at the time. While young lovers often still had to go through a father, mother or sibling (“Uh, hi Mr. Smith, is Lisa there?), the cordless phone allowed them to more easily converse outside the presence of the family. You just couldn’t go very far because the range was terrible on those bricks.
(2) The Game hats
These hats were everywhere in the early ‘90s and throughout the remainder of the decade. You know the guy who wore a South Carolina “COCKS” hat and thought he was hilarious? That hat was made by The Game. The company and the hats still exist but the classic block-and-bar-lettered snapback lids reached their peak popularity in the ‘90s. In the photo, Favre is sporting “USM” letters for his alma mater, Southern Mississippi.
(3) The gun rack
Judging from the rifles atop the gun rack over Favre’s bed, I’m guessing the Favre household security system consisted of ammunition and a large dog. Gun rack decor is just not something you see in every young adult’s bedroom. Speaking of gun racks and the early ‘90s, go here for the scene pictured from “Wayne’s World” in 1992.
(4) The "jorts"
The combination of jeans and shorts has proved a very divisive sartorial matter. One writer for Esquire even wrote a “defense” of jorts titled “One man’s case for jorts, and durability.” They’ve become so derided and extensively documented online that it’s now cliche to ridicule them. Fact is they were pretty popular in the ‘80s and ‘90s. I won’t pretend that I didn’t wear them to grade school -- I did -- but I also have zero fashion sensibility and take clothing from my brother-in-law rather than buying new threads. Whatever your take on jorts, they certainly capture the essence of the era. Favre probably didn’t have to roll up the ends, though. That wasn’t a good decision.
(5) Dave Parker and a room covered in posters
Parker is the uniformed Pirates player to the left of the door. The Mississippi native earned 7 All-Star nods in his 19-year career, won two World Series titles (1978, 1989), two NL batting championships (1978, 1979) and the 1978 NL MVP Award. Parker also became reviled in Pittsburgh, where he left in 1983. Anyhow, you can see other posters and mementos all over Favre’s walls the way that many young people have in their own bedrooms. As the quarterback lay back on his bed, he would see a John Elway poster overhead (look up and left in this gallery). And right next to that, there’s an old-school “Miami Vice” poster when Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas led the TV crime series.
Getty ImagesFocus On Sport
(6) The camcorder
It’s hard to make out which model the videographer is using but I’m guessing it was a consumer model JVC, Sony or Panasonic. Camcorders were expensive devices for regular consumers and it was much also more laborious to capture and share footage in 1991. Today it’s easy to record video from smaller cameras and mobile phones, showing sporting events, crimes, younger brothers getting launched off of exercise balls into walls, you name it. If anyone actually has the footage from Favre’s Draft Day fiesta, it’d probably fetch a decent chunk of change from a collector. At the time, those camcorders used VHS tapes. Check out this 1991 JVC commercial goofing on old 8-millimeter technology.
(7) The “4” gold chain
Did Favre secretly have a rap career like numerous other athletes?
(8) Original 8-bit Nintendo system
Okay, I’m cheating here a little bit because the game system is out of view in the primary photo. Go back to the gallery embedded up above with the additional angles. Favre played the regular “Golf” game for NES (originally released in 1985) during Draft Day in his bedroom and also in what appears to be a living room. That game was raw and primitive by today’s standards but they were a heck of a lot of fun. This video shows some of the gameplay.
(9) Red Solo Cup(s)
I have no idea if that’s actually a “Solo” brand cup but it is for our purposes. The one guy labeled who's holding that timeless Red Solo Cup, based on his hairstyle and appearance, looks like a completely regular dude who would fit into any photo today. But what’s in that red mystery cup? Some things don’t change.