The Curious Case Of Brett Favre and Norm Van Brocklin
As a Packer fan living in Bears country, the last thing I set out to do was write another article about Brett Favre and his Minnesota journey. It's bad enough that I can't say his name without stuttering. I now involuntarily say "Fah-fah-fahvvve".
I was simply doing what I love to do, researching sports. I was curious if there had ever been a Hall of Fame quarterback that had a long career with one team including an NFL championship; that had then gone to another team and won another championship at the end of his career.
My research led me to Norm Van Brocklin. Most younger fans won't remember "The Dutchman". However, the more I researched him, the more irony emerged between his career 50 years ago, and the career of Favre.
Like Favre, Van Brocklin didn't receive any scholarship offers from any perennial college powerhouse programs. Van Brocklin ended up attending the University or Oregon after his military service in World war II.
Also like Favre at Southern Mississippi, Van Brocklin pulled a couple upsets over powerhouse programs that had passed him over.
Van Brocklin declared for the NFL draft with a year of eligibility remaining. He wasn't a 1st round selection, neither was Favre.
The Rams selected Van Brocklin in the fourth round of the 1949 draft. Van Brocklin played very little as a rookie as he played behind a pro-bowl quarterback and future Hall of Famer, Bob Waterfield.
Favre was selected in the second round of the 1991 draft by the Atlanta Falcons. He also played very little as a rookie as he played behind a pro-bowl quarterback, Chris Miller.
Van Brocklin got his first career start due to an injury to the starter Waterfield. The Dutchman won his debut.
Favre got his first career start due to an injury to Packer starter Don Majkowski. The country boy won his first start.
Van Brocklin won a championship with the Rams in 1951. It would be the only championship he would win during his long tenure with the Rams. Van Brocklin's Rams also lost a championship game in 1950.
Favre won a championship with the Packers in 1996. It would be his only championship during his long tenure with the Packers. He also lost a Super Bowl.
Van Brocklin set an NFL record that has stood for 50 years and still stands to this day when he passed for 554 yards in one game on September 28, 1951.
Brett Favre has a record for consecutive starts by a quarterback that may stand for 50 years.
Van Brocklin was a fiery competitor and at times, controversial. After a number of years with the Rams produced playoffs but no championships, fans wondered if he was past his prime. Van Brocklin even threw six interceptions in a humiliating playoff loss.
Favre is known for his competitiveness. But after back to back Super Bowl appearances, Favre had some disappointing seasons and poor playoff performances for the Packers. He also once threw six interceptions in a humiliating playoff loss.
After the 1957 season Van Brocklin spurred some controversy by questioning the way the Rams were being run and the offense they employed. This lead to a controversial trade to the Philadelphia Eagles.
50 years later, after the 2007 season, Favre first retired, then unretired and caused great controversy by criticizing the Packers management. This led to a controversial trade to the New York Jets.
Van Brocklin struggled in his first season with the Eagles. They won only two games and missed the playoffs. Many fans thought Van Brocklin was finished as an elite quarterback.
Favre struggled in his first and only season with the Jets. After a promising start the team won only two games in its last seven and missed the playoffs. Many fans think Favre is well past his prime and no longer an elite quarterback.
By now you are thinking, "Wow! this is pretty crazy, the similarities". But here is where the conclusion is yet to be written.
Van Brocklin's Eagles improved in his second season.
Favre hopes to improve the Minnesota Vikings and make them contenders in his second season away from Green Bay.
To culminate his career, in 1960 "The Dutchman" won another championship in his final season. More irony? He defeated Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers to win that championship. It was Lombardi's only playoff loss as a Packer coach.
Will Favre defeat the Packers in the rugged NFC North and win a Super Bowl as a Viking?
After winning the championship in his final season, Van Brocklin retired. He wanted to become the Head Coach of the Eagles. The team spurned him. He became very bitter and dis-associated himself from the organization.
After Favre reached the NFC Title Game in 2007 only to lose on an overtime interception, he retired. Then he un-retired. He wanted his starting job back. The Packers spurned him. He became bitter and dis-associated himself from the organization.
And finally, after the Eagles refused to make "the Dutchman", Norm Van Brocklin, their head coach in 1961 he went elsewhere.
Where did he go? Believe it or not, he became the head coach of the newest NFL franchise at that time, the Minnesota Vikings for their first six seasons from 1961-1966.
He failed. The Vikings never reached the playoffs under his leadership. He resigned after his relationship with a hot shot quarterback became contentious. That quarterback? Fran Tarkenton, the same man who recently had some contentious comments about one Brett Favre.
Will Favre fail in Minnesota as Van Brocklin did? Or will Favre join Van Brocklin as the only Hall of Fame quarterback to win championships with two teams including one in the last year of his career?
We'll write the final chapter to this article in January 2010!
But no matter what happens with Favre in Minnesota, his career and that of "The Dutchman", Norm Van Brocklin have some eery similarities to be sure.
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