When Margaret Ruffing Morris learned NFL Films wanted to do A Football Life on Brett Favre, she was taken aback.
It wasn't because Favre didn't deserve his own A Football Life. Of course, he did. Rather, Morris had the feeling of been-there-done-that in regards to the massive volume of NFL Films' spotlight on Favre's career.
"We just did The Timeline: Favre Returns last year," Morris said. "Now you want to go back there again? Are you kidding me? Part of me felt I don't even think we should ask Brett for an interview."
Presented with the "daunting" challenge as producer, Morris wanted to show a different side of Favre. His A Football Life is as much, if not more, about him being a husband and father than a Hall of Fame quarterback for Green Bay. It will air on NFL Network immediately after the Chicago-Green Bay game Thursday night and also Friday at 9 p.m. ET.
The opening scene sets the tone for the film. It shows shots of Favre, almost blissfully, working on the vast property that is his home in Kiln, Miss.
"This guy got to the pinnacle of success in the NFL," Morris said. "Yet all he wanted to do was go home. We wanted to show his life in Mississippi."
Morris says Favre always had a great relationship with NFL Films. So naturally, he agreed to a request for the crew to come down to his home.
Morris also thought Favre's wife, Deanna, who doesn't like to do interviews, was on board for answering questions for the film. She soon found out otherwise.
Favre wasn't ready when Deanna greeted Morris at their home. So she asked Deanna if they could film their session.
"She goes, 'Oh, I'm not going to be interviewed,'" Morris said. "(Later) Brett said, 'You're going to have to talk her into it.'"
Morris appealed to Deanna, explaining she was a critical part of Favre's A Football Life, and that there would be something missing if she wasn't in the film. Eventually, she agreed.
"Maybe because I am a woman, Deanna felt more comfortable with me," Morris said. "She was a little nervous about how she would come across, but I kept saying, 'You're doing great.' She really opened up."
In fact, when Morris showed early versions of the documentary to her colleagues at NFL Films, they said, "You need to have more of Deanna."
Morris felt interviews with Favre's daughters, Brittany and Breleigh, also added an important element to the film. Through Deanna and them, viewers will see how Favre overcame his various struggles -- including an addiction to pain medicine -- during the 90s to becoming a dedicated family man. There are scenes of him sitting in the stands watching Breleigh's high school volleyball game.
"Nobody talks much about his family," Morris said. "You've never seen much of his daughters. But they are his everything. What matters to him most are those three women (Deanna and his daughters)."
Of course, there is plenty of Favre playing football. One of Morris' favorite parts of doing the film was going through the audio of Favre on the field. She says, "Every time we put a mic on Brett, it was gold."
"I wanted to show how he played the game," Morris said. "I wanted to show what he was capable of doing. Show the great plays and the crazy plays like the underhand passes. Show how he gave everything and completely sacrificed his body to go out there every week."
Morris and her crew also followed Favre during his Hall of Fame induction weekend at Canton in August. She was taken at how people naturally gravitated to Favre. "I almost felt sorry for the other Hall of Famers," she said.
Morris, though, notes Favre and his family didn't linger in Canton. He was anxious to get back to Mississippi. The final scene again ties into the central theme of the film: Going home.
When asked what she hopes viewers take away from the film, Morris said she hoped they see Favre as "being authentic."
"He's a guy who had every success in the world, and yet he's never changed," Favre said. "I don't want to use the word redemption, but he is a great father and great husband. People may question that because he is Brett Favre, the superstar. But what matters most to this guy is to be home with his wife and children. I think that's a noble way to live."