The NFL, particularly the Green Bay Packers, had a special meaning for Taylor Heinicke growing up. It was the bond that connected him and his father, and watching Brett Favre sling the ball up and down Lambeau Field shaped Heinicke's playing style.
On Tuesday, Heinicke got to meet Favre via Zoom on Bruce Murray's Sirius XM NFL Blitz, and it turns out the Hall of Fame quarterback is a fan of Heinicke, too.
"You know I never heard of you until the Buccaneer playoff game last year and became a fan. Scrappy man, I'll tell you," Favre said.
It isn't hard to find the comparison between Favre and Heinicke in terms of playing style. Favre also possessed a certain kind of scrappiness, and he was a gunslinger who liked to chuck passes downfield to and give his pass-catchers chances to make big plays.
All of those qualities are exactly why Washington fans love seeing Heinicke on the field, and it's no coincidence that Heinicke plays in a similar fashion. During halftimes as a kid, Heinicke and his dad would go out to the backyard, and Heinicke, who had several of Favre's No. 4 jerseys, would pretend like he was the Hall of Famer.
"He was out there having fun," Heinicke said of Favre. "He was just slinging the ball around. You saw him cracking jokes, winning games, being passionate about what he did."
Once Favre saw Heinicke help Washington nearly upset the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Wild Card round of the 2020 playoffs, he started to do some digging into the former undrafted free agent who was completely unknown to most of the league.
Like others, he became enamored with Heinicke's story of sleeping on his sister's couch before becoming Washington's emergency quarterback and being named the starter after Ryan Fitzpatrick suffered a hip subluxation in the 2021 season opener.
"You've always probably been told you're too small, your arm strength isn't enough or whatever, you've turned that into motivation for yourself to prove them all wrong and you certainly have," Favre said. "You've got the team poised to make a playoff run yet again. I enjoy stories like yours and enjoy watching players like yourself."
Heinicke's story has continued to grow, particularly over the past four weeks, as Washington has won four straight games to put itself in playoff contention with five games left. In that span, Heinicke has completed at least 70% of his passes in each win -- the longest active streak in the NFL -- and his QBR is fifth in the NFL since Washington's Week 9 bye week.
Washington's wins have come against other quarterbacks Heinicke has idolized over the years. The list includes Tom Brady -- widely viewed as the best quarterback in NFL history -- Cam Newton -- "the god of Charlotte," as Heinicke put it, and his former teammate from their days together with the Carolina Panthers -- and Russell Wilson -- another quarterback Heinicke models his playing style after.
Heinicke has beaten them all. Favre's playing days are done, so fans won't see a Heinicke vs. Favre matchup anytime soon, but meeting one of his childhood idols is just as good as competing against him on the field.