Lance Schultz figured he’d slide the envelope through the mail slot and never hear from its intended recipient. He wondered how many times a fan had written his favorite athlete a letter, only to come away disappointed when it failed to yield a response.
Besides, Schultz thought, Brett Favre was probably busy anyway.
“I said, ‘What do I have to lose?'” Schultz recalled. “If he gets back to me, that’s going to be pretty cool. If he doesn’t, it’s not a big deal. I don’t expect him to get back to me.”
Imagine Schultz’s surprise, then, when he not only heard from Favre, but he also got to meet him in person, too, thanks to a series of events that perfectly coordinated.
Schultz, a resident of Berlin, Wis., was headed for a family vacation to Gulf Shores, Ala., in late March when an idea came to mind. He would only be a three-hour drive from Favre’s hometown of Hattiesburg, Miss. What if he wrote Favre with a request to meet?
So, Schultz drafted a one-paragraph, 154-word letter offering to drive his family to Hattiesburg for the opportunity to see the Green Bay Packers icon in person. In the letter, Schultz told Favre he was the owner of City Inn Bar and Grill in Berlin and that his business had been the place of many discussions regarding Favre’s football career.
Favre, of course, remains a controversial topic in Wisconsin after he left Green Bay following the 2007 season and eventually wound up playing for the rival Minnesota Vikings in 2009 and 2010.
“I have asked many people to put themselves in your shoes, knowing that you love the game of football,” Schultz wrote. “I have been and always will be a huge supporter of you. One of the many things I tell my kids about you is that no one will play the game of football with more passion or desire than you did.”
Schultz mailed the letter, which included his phone number, the Wednesday before he left for vacation with his wife, Heather, and two kids, B.J. and Emerald. They also went on vacation with high school friend Jeff Bartol, his wife, Jill, and their kids, Sophie, Bennett, Grace, Grant and Lyla.
The following Thursday, two days before the vacation ended, Schultz received a call from Favre’s sister-in-law, Christie, trying to arrange a meeting with Favre.
Schultz was stunned. But he also had an advantage over others that had written to Favre: He knew someone who worked in the Green Bay Packers organization.
That person provided Schultz with Favre’s home address in Mississippi, allowing Schultz to deliver his letter directly to the source. Favre’s wife, Deanna, read the note and passed the information along to Favre, who gave the go ahead to meet.
Additionally, Schultz said, the letter somehow bypassed one of the steps typically taken for Favre fan mail. Most of the time, letters sent directly to Favre’s house are returned to Green Bay’s fan mail organization.
“It was kind of a freak-of-nature thing,” Schultz said.
After a series of phone calls with Christie, the Schultzes agreed to meet at 10 a.m. on the last day of their vacation, March 30, before heading home for Wisconsin. They would meet outside the Hattiesburg office of Favre’s agent, Bus Cook.
That morning, Favre pulled up in a black Jeep Wrangler and stepped out wearing jeans and a T-shirt.
“It was totally like I pictured him,” Schultz said. “He looked like he just got done cutting wood. He was just really cool, awesome to everybody. Shook everybody’s hand. Basically asked us about our vacation and what we were doing. We didn’t press any football. All we wanted to do is take a couple pictures with him and get on our way.”
Schultz said they met for about 20 minutes and discussed Wisconsin football because one of his friend’s kids was wearing a Badgers shirt. Favre said he didn’t know former coach Bret Bielema well, but liked athletic director Barry Alvarez. Schultz added that they did not discuss the Packers at all. They did discuss a tornado that tore through Hattiesburg in February.
“We talked about hunting and the storms and everything that went on down by him,” Schultz said. “He was cutting a lot of wood and cleaning up after those storms.”
Schultz learned an employee of Favre’s had been rushed to the emergency room that same March morning, but Favre still made time to meet with the two families before driving to the hospital. They snapped a couple of photos but did not get any autographs.
Schultz said Christie was supposed to bring over a few sharpies for signatures but was instead at the hospital. She later told him they could mail items for Favre to sign later.
“I think my friend and I, Jeff, we were more in a hurry than he was knowing that he had to be somewhere,” Schultz said. “But he was real relaxed and cool.”
Schultz still encounters spirited talks about Favre at his bar and is even more supportive of his favorite player.
“Someday they’ll probably retire his number here and well deserving,” Schultz said. “I know all over the place people are, ‘Forget Favre, we’ve got somebody else now.’ They forget all he did for the organization.”