Prep receiver gets thrill of catching Favre's fastballs
Did you hear about the teenagers who ran routes for Brett Favre on Friday?
Well, one of them was Kewon Hunter, a senior receiver at Oak Grove High School in Hattiesburg, Miss. And a few hours after the workout ended, he was still oohing and aahing.
"He was just standing in one spot today and throwing 60 yards," he said. "Standing in one spot."
When Hunter, 17, came to Oak Grove last year, he found out that summer practices had a special visitor. Right there alongside the kids was Favre.
The NFL legend's oldest daughter graduated from Oak Grove, and he has another girl in the local middle school, so he's comfortable at the place. It's a sanctuary of sorts, where he has eased himself back into football season. In recent years, it's where he has kept himself in shape as he struggled with the decision about whether to stay retired or play on. It's where he seems to rediscover the joy for the game.
He runs the same sprints as the players, racing against the coaches' stopwatches just like them. He throws balls to the receivers, helps them run better routes. And, at one recent practice, he even told his high school "teammates" that he wished he could come back to the NFL.
At first, Hunter was more concerned about not getting his head knocked off than with picking up tips.
"When I first started doing it, whoo, that ball was coming," he said. "I was scared to catch it. Every pass he throws whistles."
Early on, Hunter learned a valuable lesson. Catch the ball with your hands.
"If it hits your body, it's gonna hurt," he said. "One day I was running a route, and I took my eye off it and it hit me in my stomach. It was a big bruise."
The biggest reminder of just how good Favre is comes when the prep quarterbacks step in and suddenly everything falls apart. Hunter and the other receivers get used to Favre putting every pass right in their hands. No reaching back or slowing down or speeding up.
"He throws a perfect pass every time," he said. "Not like your regular quarterback."
Hunter says Favre is one of the guys, always telling jokes, passing out nicknames. Hunter falls a lot when catching Favre's passes, so the future Hall of Famer calls the senior wideout "Mop." As in: Somebody needs to clean him up.
"He has us laughing all the time," he said.
Mostly, the Green Bay Packers quarterback acts like another one of the coaches. But the players never forget that he is Brett Favre. No matter how many routes he runs, or how good he gets at catching the whistling spirals, Hunter still looks back and shakes his head.
"It's always, 'I can't believe I'm doing this,'" he said, laughing.
Wright Thompson is a senior writer for ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine. He can be reached at email@example.com.
MORE NFL HEADLINES
- Sources: Ryan expects to be fired by Jets
- Browns suspend WR Gordon for season finale
- Chiefs' Smith (spleen) out against Chargers
- Lynch fined $11K by NFL for obscene move
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
BRETT FAVRE SAGA: OVER
After pushing and pushing to keep playing either in Green Bay or elsewhere, Brett Favre's storied career will continue in 2008. The unretired quarterback has been traded by the Packers to the Jets.
NFC North blog | AFC East blog
News• Favre on offseason saga: 'I knew I wanted to play'
• Favre unlikely to play in Jets' preseason finale
• Report: Pack's Favre deal included souvenirs, blog
• On Day 5 with Jets, Favre says arm feels 'fatigued'
• Favre finally arrives in New York, meets mayor
• Rodgers: 'Still following Brett's legacy'
• Jets introduce Favre in Cleveland
• Favre era ends in Green Bay with trade to Jets
• Favre leaves Green Bay, destination unknown
• Favre: 'This probably isn't going to work'
• Favre flying under radar in Green Bay
• Favre: Reinstatement done, Green Bay flight set
• Favre mulling offer; NFL ruling put off again
• Favre actively weighing Packers' offer
• Report: Packers mull dealing Favre in division
• Team president meeting with Favre, agent
• Source: Favre files for reinstatement
• Rodgers takes over as starting QB
• Favre signs reinstatement letter, waits to send
• Favre won't report to Packers camp Sunday
• Sources: Favre, Packers talk trade destinations
• Favre support muted at shareholders meeting
• Report: Favre doesn't have team-issued phone
• Report: NFL security visits Vikings
• Favre questions likely from shareholders
• Packers reportedly weigh trade offers for Favre
• Favre returns to Lambeau Field
• Packers president supports GM, coach
• What they're saying about Favre
• Favre won't apply for reinstatement right away
• Sources: Packers claim Vikings tampered
• Favre may show up at camp
• Favre 'clears it up' in interview with Fox
• Few fans attend Favre rally in Milwaukee
• Pack fans rally, calling for Favre reinstatement
• Pack won't release Favre
• Sources: Favre seeks unconditional release
• Favre itching to return to field
Trade Commentary/Features• Clayton: History doesn't favor Favre, Jets
• Chadiha: Packers will be fine without Favre
• Wojciechowski: Divorce cause? Lack of trust
• Clayton: Deal is a downer for Favre
• Scouts Inc.: Jets now a playoff contender
• Clayton: Questions, answers on Favre trade
• Fantasy spin: Deal boosts value of many Jets
Other Commentary/Features• Clayton: 5 reasons Favre would start for Pack
• Mosley: Favre is QB turned ringmaster
• Wojciechowski: Favre and away the best solution
• Clayton: Favre wins ugly duel
• Clayton: It's a painful divorce
• Chadiha: Rodgers unfazed by Favre circus
• Yasinskas: Favre makes sense for Bucs
• Wojciechowski: Packers can't win this game
• Clayton: It's a delicate situation
• Wright Thompson: Catching Favre's fastballs
• Wojciechowski: What's the answer, Packers?
• Williamson: Where could he end up?
• Seifert: What happens after HOF QBs move on
• Paolantonio: Favre is overhyped
• Kiper: 2005 analysis of prospect Rodgers
• Madden '09 cover boy Favre to stay retired
• Thompson: Brett, we miss you already
• Wojciechowski: Worth the price of admission
• Price of signed Favre items to go up
• Yasinskas: Rodgers ready to take the reins
• FB Outsiders: Measuring Favre's greatness
• Sando: Gunslinger mentality defined Favre
• Yasinskas: Majkowski on Favre's legacy
• Clayton: Questions surrounding Favre
• Clayton: Packers will miss Favre's magic
• Chadiha: Favre will regret decision
• Keating: Favre just getting started
• Hashmarks: Favre fun-loving guy
• Burning Questions: Is Rodgers ready?
• Experts: Is Favre the best, or among them?
• Favre's top 10 moments
• Forde: Favre's flair for dramatic started in college
• Favre's rating in Mel Kiper's '91 draft guide
• Favre's hometown quiet on day of his retirement
• Sadness, shock envelops Green Bay
• Wounded Army officer has last ball thrown
• Around sports: What they're saying
• Fantasy spin: Rodgers not top-20 QB
• Scouts: Rodgers has talent to succeed
• Packers local: Complete hometown coverage
Video• Favre traded to Jets for conditional pick
• Jets GM on trade for Favre, imminent release of Pennington
• Steve Young on Favre's Jets future
• Cris Carter on what trade means to Jets?
• Schlereth: Exciting news for Jets
• Sal Pal on Favre's move to AFC
• Rachel Nichols on Favre's pre-trade mindset
• Favre interview: Part 3 | 2 | 1
SportsNation• How will Jets do with Favre behind center?
• Fans react to Favre's retirement
Photo Galleries• Favre flashback
• Top TD guns
• Top TD targets