What Brett can expect in Green Bay return
John Czarnecki picks former NFL star John Lynch's brain about this weekend's much-hyped return of Brett Favre to Green Bay to face the Packers.
You played in a reunion game, returning to Tampa Bay your first season with the Broncos. What was it like?
I think back to mine and it was incredibly emotional. Initially, I wasn't prepared for it. What was interesting to me was that I was as nervous for that game as I was for the Super Bowl and I never thought that would be the case. I didn't sleep the night before. I literally had the worst sleep I ever had the night before a game. There were so many things running through my mind.
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For me, I had played 11 years in that city and my family, two of my kids were born there, and you recall all the things you did in the community. I had watched the new stadium being built and you feel like you played a role in that. You won a Super Bowl in this community and all of this starts flooding in on you. And it makes it much more than just a football game. I mean, you want to prepare and approach it like it's just another game. I can just say that it's not.
I think it probably helps Brett that he's been eased into this a little bit and the fact that he's already played the Packers a few weeks ago. But still I don't think that compares to going back to the place, to Lambeau Field, which you called home for 16 seasons and where you really grew up as a NFL player.
My emotions were running wild. By the second quarter, I think I had full body cramps. I was the type of player who did cramp up occasionally, but nothing like I experienced in that game. I just think the emotions of that whole weekend just took over and I was just exhausted. But I did end up playing a really good game and got a game ball and made a big 4th-and-1 tackle in the third quarter.
Do you believe there is a scouting advantage from the player or the coaching staff in such a situation?
Your opposing coach knows you so well. For example, on the first defensive play of our game Coach Gruden ran a play that he hoped would work against me. He knew my adrenaline would be sky high. He knew what kind of player I was and I would just want to tear someone's head off. He knew I would be down in the box and sure enough I was. He ran that counter pitch where they fake the dive to the fullback strong and pitch out weak-side to Michael Pittman. Not only did he do that, he knew that I was one of the few safeties that actually read guards.
So, I was keying the guard, so he pulled the guard, too. He did all that but fortunately I caught the play and I caught Pittman for a one-yard gain, which is a win for the defense. I made a real nice play. And kind of uncharacteristic for me, I started pointing and talking to Gruden on the sidelines. I said, "Keep bringing that play, I will be here all day. Try whatever you want." I knew he designed that play for me. It made a lot of sense because he knew me inside and out as a player.
I'm sure he consulted with the defensive coaches, Mike Tomlin and Monte Kiffin. After that play, it was back to just being football. And that was good for me. Everything was out of the way. I got my confidence going and then it was just time to play ball.
Do you think it will be harder for Brett to get into the game because he's a quarterback. You wanted to hit people, something he doesn't want to do?
I think it might be harder for Brett because I agree he's not going to want to get hit or hit somebody like I did. Ultimately, it is football, but the other things do matter. We are all people. I was greeted incredibly by the fans. They were very gracious to me. My situation was a little different because I had neck surgery in the off-season and Bruce Allen had come in as the new general manager and they made the decision that they didn't want me anymore. The fans were mad at Bucs' management and not mad at me. So, when I came back and, Mike Shanahan made sure the defense was introduced to the crowd, I was the last player announced. The place went absolutely nuts. They gave a three, four-minute ovation, something you never see for a visiting player coming in.