By Nick Shook
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Doug Pederson faces his first Super Bowl appearance since his Green Bay Packers took home a title more than 20 years ago.
On the eve of Super Bowl LII, he called in an old friend with a unique perspective to offer.
Brett Favre, Super Bowl XXXI champion, spoke to Pederson’s Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday morning, less than 48 hours before kickoff in the franchise’s biggest game to date. The Hall of Famequarterback did so per request of Pederson, who was once Favre’s backup and is also owner of a SB XXXI ring.
Perhaps it’s fate that the latter’s first shot at a title since XXXI comes against New England. The Patriots have appeared in eight Super Bowls since 1995, with a ninth coming Sunday. Only two quarterbacks have beaten them in that span: Eli Manning and Favre, with Pederson standing dressed and ready to replace Favre.
That Patriots team didn’t include Tom Brady, who was a few years from becoming a late-round entry into the league. Though Favre defeated the man Brady eventually replaced — Drew Bledsoe — he cautioned against letting up at all against one of the game’s greatest players in its history.
“We know the Patriots. They’re a tremendous team. Their quarterback is the greatest to ever play. Bill Belichick is the greatest coach to ever coach. You know what they’re about,” Favre told NBC Sports Philadelphia of his speech to the Eagles. “They’re going to play the whole game. Don’t ever say — kinda like last year, ‘We have it won and we’re going to go to the drive-thru.’ That’s not a good idea.”
Favre, of course, was referencing Atlanta’s collapse against Brady’s Patriots, who stormed back from a 28-3 deficit in a little over a quarter of play to force overtime and eventually take home yet another title. But his message wasn’t so much about avoiding defeat as it was embracing the opportunity on the game’s biggest stage.
“I congratulated them on the year they’ve had; it’s a wonderful year,” Favre said. “And just encouraged them to enjoy the moment. You think you’re always going to come back after you’ve gotten a chance to go but it’s such an honor to play in the Super Bowl. And to just embrace that. And I told them, ‘this is probably something I should have told you two weeks ago, but this is the longest two weeks of your life and it’s going to be the longest 24 hours plus of your life. The game at this point can not get here quick enough. But it’s going to slow down even more.'”
Favre’s Super Bowl experience ended in him removing his helmet, raising it in the air and running around the field inside the Louisiana Superdome. Nick Foles will be reprising the role of Favre versus the Patriots, inside another dome but far north of New Orleans and with the shadow of public doubt looming. We’ll see if it ends with another green-clad — albeit, much more unlikely — quarterback celebrating.