Former Packers WR Walker Happy for Favre
Next game: Sunday, December 16 at Saint Louis
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) -- Two years after saying he could no longer play in Green Bay because of Brett Favre's criticism of his contract demands, Broncos receiver Javon Walker is looking back wistfully on his time with the Packers quarterback.
In a wide-ranging interview Wednesday, Walker credited Favre for helping him become a wealthy NFL star and said he was thrilled to see Favre's resurgent season that has guided Green Bay back into the playoffs after a three-year absence.
"I don't know what he's doing in the offseason, but he's looking better than half the young quarterbacks in this league right now," Walker said. "And it's the same ol' Brett, just letting his guys make plays for him on top of the plays he's making."
If the Broncos can't slip into the playoffs, Walker said he's pulling for Favre to win another Super Bowl.
"Oh, shoot, that's just going to add on to his legacy," Walker said. "(But) that's not going to define him. What's going to define him is knowing he took a young team and even made it to the playoffs this year, because nobody knew what to expect out of those guys."
Walker insists there's no hard feelings left over from his time in Green Bay, where he blew out his right knee in the 2005 opener after bluffing he'd hold out, threats that angered Favre, who suggested at the time that Walker should live up to his contract.
That offseason, Walker demanded a trade, saying Favre's criticisms made him an outcast in Green Bay.
The Packers sent him to Denver for a second-round draft choice. The Broncos gave Walker a five-year extension worth more than $40 million that kicked in this year and includes roster bonuses totaling $15 million in 2007 and '08.
For all these riches, Walker thanked Favre.
"You know why? Because Brett is the type of quarterback where he believes in his guy winning all the time," Walker said. "And to tell you the truth, I wouldn't know half of the ability or plays that I could make if he wouldn't have given me the opportunity to make them."
Favre's propensity to throw the ball into coverage allowed Walker to showcase his athleticism.
"If I'm running a route and the guy's right on me and they don't throw the ball because they think you're covered, Brett would throw the ball and it's like, 'Oh, wow. He jumped over that guy to make the play.' And you can tell yourself as a wide receiver, 'Oh, wow. I made that play?' And then all that does is just make you better because he's showing stuff you know you can do," Walker said.
Walker hasn't had much of an opportunity to showcase his skills this season. He's missed eight games with a right knee ailment unrelated to his torn anterior cruciate ligament in 2005, and he's caught just three passes for 17 yards since starting the season with back-to-back 100-yard games.
In many ways, he said, this year has been harder on him than 2005.
"The ACL, that was the easy part," Walker said. "I think this year was more frustrating because at least you know with the ACL, you're not playing in any games, you're not practicing, you're just completely out. You're out, you're done, next season. So, you've got a bunch of time to get it right before going into next camp."
This season, Walker has practiced through the pain, not wanting to shut himself down because the Broncos (6-7) sorely missed him. He returned three weeks ago after missing seven weeks following arthroscopic surgery. But Walker estimates he's only at 75 percent and was deactivated last week. He'll be a game-time decision Thursday night at Houston.
"It's frustrating because you're trying to do what you can do and a knee is preventing you from being your best," Walker said. "It plays into everybody else's eyes. It plays into the coaches' eyes. It plays into the quarterback's eyes, because even though you're out there, there's a trust factor now: 'Can I go to him? Can I not go to him?'
"When I tore my ACL, I knew Brett wasn't looking for me," Walker said. "So it was better me being out and him just not going to me than me being in a game and him not even looking my way at all."
Walker, 29, said he doesn't know if the Broncos will approach him about renegotiating in the offseason. He suggested he wouldn't be willing to do that because the deal just kicked in this year, "and my best seasons are ahead of me."
Walker said he plans to push as hard next summer as he did when returning from his torn ACL but doesn't foresee fretting about his health so much this time.
"Where I had a doubt was when I tore my ACL in 2005. I didn't know what to expect," Walker said. "You go from being able to run full-speed to sitting in a bed for a month. But now, knowing where I came from, this little old thing that just needs time and rest when the offseason comes around, that's going to be like nothing."
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)