BEREA, Ohio — Colt McCoy picked up his cellphone, dialed Brett Favre’s number and hoped one of his idols might help him out.
The Browns quarterback got Favre’s assistance — and more than he could have dreamed.
“He said, ‘Yeah, come down tonight,” McCoy said recalled Favre saying. “That didn’t happen.”
But before he knew it, McCoy was on a plane flying to Mississippi to meet with Favre, who picked him up at the airport and then spent several days schooling Cleveland’s young quarterback on the intricacies of the West Coast offense, something the three-time NFL MVP mastered during 20 pro seasons.
Following practice on Tuesday, McCoy described in detail the time he shared this summer with Favre, who seems to have finally retired for good after several is-he-or-isn’t-he seasons. McCoy said the pair of quarterbacks — the graying gunslinger and his eager-to-learn protege — immersed themselves in nothing but football.
“He’s an outstanding guy and I learned a lot, “ McCoy said, “so I was thankful for him being open to me even coming down there. It’s the first time we had met. It was a lot of fun.”
OK, but the big question:
Did Favre look ready for another comeback?
“We didn’t even go there,” McCoy said, laughing. “We talked football. We stayed up late and worked out and he really helped me. For a guy who has played in some versions of the West Coast for 20 years, he’s a great resource to have and I appreciated him being willing to spend a couple of days with me and help me out with some things.”
Because McCoy wasn’t permitted to have any contact during the lockout with first-year Browns coach Pat Shurmur or any of his assistants, he was looking for help with the West Coast. McCoy was able to get a copy of Shurmur’s playbook during one-day break in the labor strife. But without anyone to explain it to him, McCoy needed help.
The Xs and Os, the arrows, the terminology. It was like a foreign language to McCoy.
Enter Favre, who knows the West Coast as well as anyone.
Favre first learned the system in Green Bay under Browns president Mike Holmgren, who coached the Packers from 1992-98. McCoy that figured if Favre was available, it would be a waste not to ask the master.
“I was at home and I’ve always liked watching Brett play and some of the stuff (plays) we had from Green Bay was him and it just occurred to me, why not call and see what he’s doing?” McCoy said. “I had no idea, I just took a shot. And we ended up getting together and spending a couple of days. It was fun.”
McCoy picked up several pointers from Favre, a player the former Texas star has admired since he first buckled his chin strap.
“Nobody else is like Brett to me,” McCoy said. “I wore No. 4 in high school, so I’ve been watching him for a long time. He’s one of those guys that I think everybody’s watched. Guys that are my age, 23, 24 years old, when we were young, we were watching Brett, so it was awesome for me to be around him.”
McCoy arrived in Mississippi with a list of questions. He wanted to absorb all he could during their time together. McCoy wanted to know about his footwork; about where to throw the ball if the primary receiver was covered; about audibles. Really, about everything.
“He helped me on some things,” McCoy said. “I had the playbook and I had some tape. But you can go down and ask him, ‘OK, vs. this, what call do you make here? And you see a pressure, what call can you make to adjust?’ Those are the things that we talked about. Same things I would ask a coach. But now that I’m here, and with coaches every day, we’re way past that.
“But during that time, Brett was very helpful.”
Shurmur, who brought the West Coast with him from St. Louis, where he had a good one-year run with Sam Bradford, said McCoy’s willingness to learn shows his maturity and growth as a leader.
“I just think that speaks to what Colt is,” Shurmur said. “He puts two and two together. In an offense where you had a player that was tremendously successful, he took it upon himself to go see him and I think that’s great. I’ve got a lot of respect for Brett. I consider him a friend of sorts.
“I’ve always followed him and admired what he’s done. First of all, I’m thankful that Brett would spend time with him and then I think it’s great on Colt’s part that he would take the initiative to go do it.”
McCoy left Favre with a few unanswered questions that maybe he can ask the next time around.
“I wanted to ask him the secret to not missing a game,” McCoy said. “Brett’s Brett. I really enjoyed my time with him.”
Notes: TE Ben Watson (hamstring) LBs Scott Fujita (thigh) and Chris Gocong (stinger), and S Usama Young (hamstring) sat out practice. … WR Mohamed Massaquoi said “hopefully, real soon” when asked when he might practice for the first time. He’s been out with a bone injury to his left leg. … Shurmur praised LB Titus Brown, who has had an impressive camp and returned a fumble 43 yards for a touchdown against Green Bay last week. … RB Montario Hardesty had a wrap on his left calf, but he took part in drills. … Wednesday’s practice is closed to the public.