Small-town Mississippians Favre and Campbell face off on Sunday
"You have nothing else to do but sit outside and throw footballs at trees," Campbell said Wednesday. "That's how you work on your accuracy. Knock some bark off a tree."
Small-town people not only have their own set of jokes, they are also quiet neighborly. So during the offseason Campbell figured he would pay a visit to the Green Bay Packers legend, who now lives in Hattiesburg. The Washington Redskins quarterback walked up -- unannounced -- to the call box outside Favre's gated home.
No answer. Campbell waited five minutes and went away.
"I didn't want a helicopter to come by," Campbell said.
Told on Wednesday that Campbell had come calling, Favre seemed bemused.
"I didn't know he came by," Favre said. "What did he say he was coming by for?"
Why, to say hello and catch up on old times, of course.
Being a quarterback from the Magnolia State, Campbell has been a Favre fan practically since birth. Campbell was a rising senior in high school when he met Favre for the first time, when they happened to share the same trainer.
Campbell was amazed at how hard Favre threw the ball to the trainer, enough "to make his hand almost bleed," according to Campbell. Favre then greeted Campbell and offered advice to the young kid, mainly to stay focused amid the many distractions that lay ahead in college.
Campbell is now 26. Favre turned 38 on Wednesday. They are a football generation apart. Campbell's father, a substitute high school teacher, actually has Favre's daughter in his class from time to time. Yet, here they are, about to face each other in the NFL for the first time when Campbell and Redskins come calling -- no waiting at the gate this time -- to face the Packers on Sunday.
"The years go by so fast," Campbell said. "Now to be on the same field with him ..."
Favre is setting records right and left in his 16th season, while Campbell has started only 11 NFL games and is just reaching his first milestones. He had a 100 passer rating in a game for the first time in Sunday's 34-3 win over Detroit and was named NFC offensive player of the week. He had a 79 percent completion percentage (23-for-29), by far his best as a pro. His 248 yards passing were a career-high, as were his 23 completions.
Those are tiddlywinks numbers for Favre. He's completed at least 23 passes in every game this season and is averaging more than 300 yards a game. He's had a 100 rating three times in Green Bay's five games.
What the two do have in common, other than their strong arms, is the ability to shake off the negative. Favre keeps firing no matter how many interceptions he's thrown, and Campbell has emulated that quality, earning praise from teammates and coaches for keeping an even keel.
"He doesn't look back," Campbell said. "He makes a mistake and moves on to the next play. There's where I am in my career. You make a mistake and try to move on."
That wasn't so easy two weeks ago, after Washington blew a big second-half lead and lost 24-17 to the New York Giants. The Redskins had four chances to score from the 1-yard line in the final minute, and Campbell didn't help things by rushing the final two plays.
Campbell said the loss stuck with him longer than usual. It was fortunate the bye week followed, giving him a chance to get over it.
"Any time you lose the game on the 1-yard line, it hurts," Campbell said. "But one thing it did was teach us a lesson."
Campbell rebounded with a game that was almost too easy. The Lions barely touched him as he completed short to medium passes all game. The diciest moment came when Campbell felt a bit dizzy and had his face mask bent while recovering his own fumble on a third-down play. He spit out some grass while coach Joe Gibbs called a timeout, then completed a fourth-and-2 pass to Antwaan Randle El that set up a touchdown.
"Jason had his best game for us," Gibbs said. "It was all the things you picture in a quarterback."
Favre has heard that sort of compliment many times. He's also used to playing against young quarterbacks who rooted for him as preteens.
What's it like to play someone like Campbell? It's nothing new.
"These guys say all the time, 'Hey, I had your poster on my wall,' ... I don't pay a great deal to the age difference because it really doesn't matter in this game or any game," Favre said. "I'm just thankful that I'm still here doing it and people like to watch me play."
WR Antwaan Randle El (hamstring), LB Marcus Washington (hamstring), DE Phillip Daniels (shoulder) and FB Mike Sellers (heel) did not practice. "Hopefully there's a miracle there," Gibbs said of Randle El's chances of playing Sunday. WR Santana Moss (groin) took part in the full practice. ... WRs Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders, two members of "The Posse" from Gibbs' first time in Washington, were visitors at practice. "If we keep getting guys nicked," Gibbs said he told them, "we're going to call you back."
AP Sports Writer Chris Jenkins in Green Bay, Wis., contributed to this report.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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