Favre’s Green Bay, and Southern Miss No. The 4s were retired and never to be worn again. Favre would never have worn “4” if he hadn’t had his druthers. In 1987, a seventh-string quarterback aged 17 couldn’t be picky. The story may be familiar to you, but it may not for you. Southern Miss signed Favre as an afterthought. He was a Hancock North Central High student who had played for Big Irv Favre. Big Irv believed that the football should be run until an opponent can’t stop it. Hancock’s power-running attacks were impossible to stop. Big Irv’s quarterback son rarely threw a ball. It was not known that the boy who could throw three to four passes per game had one of the best throwing arms in history. Favre believed he was heading to Delta State two days before National Signing Day when high school athletes sign college scholarships. Favre had not been offered a Division I scholarship. Southern Miss lost a quarterback who was committed, and he signed with Alabama instead. This opened the door to a new spot. Former assistant coach at USM Mark McHale had seen Favre practice before the game and lobbied for him to be awarded that scholarship. Jim Carmody, the head football coach, gave in to his demands, partly because McHale assured Favre that he was a strong, tough kid who could play safety and linebacker, if he didn’t want to be a quarterback. McHale was correct, by the way. Favre would have made a formidable safety or linebacker. Favre was a great quarterback. Favre arrived in Hattiesburg for fall football camp and nobody knew this. Nobody even knew how to spell or pronounce his name. Farve was used as often as Favre to spell it. Fav-ray was used as often as Farve. Favre was then placed in the equipment line. Favre was asked his name by the jersey provider. Favre told him. Favre asked him what his position was. Favre said quarterback. Favre asked the man which number he preferred. Favre replied, “Well, in high school I wore number 10. “I would like to have No. “10.” This is not possible, the guy stated, Reggie Collier wore No. It’s been retired. No. 10 will be worn by Southern Miss ever again. 10. Favre, who was a fan of Collier’s as a child, stated that it made sense and asked for the available quarterback numbers. Favre looked at his list and replied: “To tell the truth, we have only four numbers left for you.” Favre stated last year, before he was inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. “I would have worn 99 if they asked me to.” Thus, football’s most famous Gunslinger, the three time NFL MVP and all-time Iron Man of pro football, was crowned No. By default, he was 4. He was listed in the first game of the season as the seventh-string quarterback. He was the third string by the end of the first game. He was the first string by the end of the second match. This writer is one of many who believe that he saved USM’s football program. He sparked new interest, attracted larger crowds, and led the Golden Eagles in historic victories over powers like Alabama, Auburn, and Florida State. No. 4 is an odd number in football. 4 is. It was worn by only Favre, a very few football players who were really well-known for wearing it. It is also the most iconic No. 4 in sports. Lou Gehrig, the legendary Iron Horse of baseball, is No. 4. Bobby Orr, hockey’s greatest player, also wore No. 4. Favre wasn’t sure he wanted it back in 1987, but he is more than happy with it now. He smiled wryly and said, “No regrets.” I’d say it worked out OK.” Rick Cleveland writes a weekly sports column running Fridays at Mississippitoday.org. To support this work, make a regular donation today to celebrate our Spring Member Drive. This will allow us to continue important work such as this story.