Joe Montana. The name is etched in stone for all time as the number one quarterback of all time. The name resonates the image of a patient expert, the master of a craft that few can even begin to compare to. Not many take the time to think of him as anything other than the ring leader of the San Francisco 49ers, a born leader and masterful performer. The BEST. And yet, that is not where he finished out his career, nor is that departure what he is remembered for.
Nearing 40, and within close proximity to the infamous Brett Favre, the Comeback Kid received a shoulder injury, and despite desiring to continue playing, was abandoned by his team for Steve Young and traded to the Kansas City Chiefs. Harsh you may say, as he was not abandoned, it is merely risk assessment, the necessary provisions that all in the field are forced to roulette with. Montana chose to continue to play for a couple more years for the Kansas City Chiefs, a team who believed in the continuing ability of the legend and his confidence in himself.
He followed by bringing them to their first two playoff games in a decade and issued in a franchise tie for the most wins in that season. Montana received the same ridicule and disparagement that Favre is receiving now. Still, the record does not lie, for both players. Montana is known by all as the best, and is known for the 49ers to this day.
Then we have Favre before us, another record NFL player, pleading to play in the end, though undoubtedly indecisive, and rejected by his team. Again we must note that this may not be rejection, the drama that accompanied him along with the risks were a heavy load to bear, a load that General Manager Ted Thompson felt was too much considering former first round draft pick Aaron Rodgers was held in limbo, their long anticipated replacement of a hard to top Favre.
Favre is the recipient of 12 NFL quarterback records, the top of the tree for any other quarterback. He is second to only one for the amount of 4th quarter come-back wins, the same reason Montana was nicknamed the “Comeback Kid” (as was John Elway for differing reasons). It was this talent that deemed the Packers “Team of the Decade” for their performance in the early and late 90’s after Brett’s start in 1992.
Who are we to tell dozens of sports and medical experts, their careers and reputation in the balance, that we know more than them, that we have a telekinetic understanding of things beyond our grasp and privilege ?
Are we honestly trying to tell a professional athlete, who’s made this sport his vocation for the last 18 seasons, starting 269 games in his Green Bay career, that he does not know enough to determine whether or not he is fit and capable? I find the idea ridiculous and redundant, a reflux of last year’s accusations that were only upheld by a late season shoulder injury with the Jets, a similar injury to what was received by Montana and a commonplace reality that mocks every athlete every day of their profession regardless of age.
Record interceptions? Absolutely! Any individual who has thrown an excessive surplus of passes in their career compared to other athletes will undoubtedly have more interceptions. Yet the truth remains behind the façade that critics try to display. His average is 66.5 % pass completions, higher than any other and notably surpassing even Joe Montana’s 63%. Steve Young resides at 62%, yet is looked at with reverence. Those who take chances WILL miss their aim at times, but those who take risks, WIN.
I am disappointed that he will be disadvantaging the Packers by providing what was once privileged insider information of his team. But I ask you this; did he ask to go to a new team? No. He was traded. Along with that trade went the knowledge of the team, their loss, their risk, and a reality factor that they likely anticipated. I am thrilled to see Favre continuing to play the game. I think every football fan is benefitted by his love and extensive knowledge of the game, and one more year, is a treat I and many others are pleased to receive.