Shades of McMahon, Favre wants to win Packers QB knows backup is Super smart


GREEN BAY, Wis. -- If Brett Favre is looking for insight on how to handle Super Bowl XXXI in New Orleans on Jan. 26, the Green Bay Packers' quarterback won't have to look far.

Jim McMahon, Favre's backup, has been there, done that.

You remember. The Super Bowl shuffle. The Chicago Bears and the New England Patriots. Super Bowl XX at the Superdome.

The Bears fell on the Patriots like a refrigerator, 46-10, and it wasn't only William Perry who did the damage. McMahon completed 12 of 20 passes for 256 yards before leaving the rout in the fourth quarter with a wrist injury.

Eleven years later to the day, it will be Favre's turn to test the Patriots at the Superdome, with McMahon looking on.

"All year, he's brought that up," Favre said yesterday. "Jan. 26, New Orleans, playing New England. It's everything he went through, a year after he lost the [NFC] championship game.

"He's kind of filled me in on how to moon helicopters, and told me about the women in New Orleans."

Favre was a sophomore at North Central High in Kiln, Miss., at the time, but remembers with freeze-frame clarity McMahon's outrageous behavior in the Big Easy the week before the game.

When McMahon, eyes hidden by sunglasses, wasn't pulling down his pants on the practice field for the benefit of a cameraman overhead in a helicopter, or getting involved in a controversy over reported comments about women in New Orleans, he was goading then-commissioner Pete Rozelle with renegade headbands and unauthorized advertising.

Favre doesn't figure to be so audacious, but he was in a playful mood one day after a 30-13 victory over the Carolina Panthers secured his first Super Bowl appearance.

"We're professionals," he said. "I assume we'll go down and act like all the other hoodlums [but] I won't."

McMahon was nowhere to be found when the media entered the Packers' locker room yesterday, but his spirit was everywhere.

Packers coach Mike Holmgren said he'd ask the 37-year-old McMahon and wide receiver Don Beebe to address the team on the perils of Super Bowl week.

They are the only two Green Bay players who have played in a previous Super Bowl.

"He's a welcome addition," Holmgren said of McMahon, who has thrown only four passes for the Packers this season. "He's a big help to the team. He's a very bright guy and he knows how to play the position."

Beebe made a bigger on-field contribution this season (39 catches, four touchdowns), but his Super Bowl pedigree is not as romantic. He played on three losing teams with the Buffalo Bills.

"Jim knows how to go to the Super Bowl and win," Beebe said. "Maybe they should ask Jim. [But] I know what not to do."

The first order of business for the Packers after claiming their first NFC championship since the 1967 season was to eliminate as many distractions as possible. Holmgren spoke to the team about issues like game tickets, wives, hotels and travel arrangements.

Holmgren also said he would have his wife, Kathy, talk to the players' wives and girlfriends on what to expect.

"With this group, I don't anticipate a problem getting them to focus in on the game," Holmgren said. "Special things happen these two weeks. Not a lot of our guys have gone through this. It's my job to educate them as much as I can."

Holmgren knows a little about Super Bowl week himself. He was quarterbacks coach of San Francisco when the 49ers won Super Bowl XXIII over the Cincinnati Bengals, 20-16, after the 1988 season. And he was offensive coordinator a year later when they hammered Denver, 55-10, in New Orleans.

Holmgren is up against a friend and adviser in Patriots coach Bill Parcells, who won two Super Bowls as coach of the New York Giants.

"He's always been good to me," Holmgren said. "If I needed advice, I'd make a phone call and ask his opinion.

"If you look at it, Bill's already won two Super Bowls and this is my first [as head coach]. I'm a decided underdog in the coaching battle. But he and I don't play."

Holmgren said he celebrated Sunday's victory with a quiet 6: 30 dinner, then went to sleep at 8: 30.

Favre, on the other hand, didn't get a lot of sleep. He celebrated with visiting family members and took phone calls from friends.

There was a feeling not only of joy for the Packers -- who were favored to reach the Super Bowl from the beginning of the season -- but of relief, as well.

"A lot of practice and preparation have gone into this moment," Favre said, "so why not enjoy it?"

Pub Date: 1/14/97

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