The Legacy of Brett Favre
A devastating, costly mistake of a throw may have again been Brett Favre’s final pass of his renowned career.
Only this time it was with him wearing the purple of the Minnesota Vikings. The 40-year-old quarterback was once again putting on one of the toughest displays to date against a blitzing New Orleans defense in Sunday night’s NFC Championship game, but after a late game interception, visions of Lambeau Field and the 2008 NFC Championship against the New York Giants crept back into all our minds.
After Favre’s brief stay with the New York Jets last season critics started to pass judgment on him in numerous ways. They doubted Brett could carry a team any longer. He carried the Vikings to a 12-4 record and was the main reason for their success. He was also responsible for the breakout of young wide receiver Sidney Rice and a career year from tight end Visanthe Schiancoe.
At the same time he covered up for Adrian Peterson, who even though the numbers might not point it out clearly, had a very disappointing season. They doubted he could win a locker room. His teammates gushed over him, and what a positive influence he has been on the team.
Critics doubted he could last the physical punishment of an entire NFL season. Favre played in all 18 Minnesota games and was sacked almost 40 times and that doesn’t include all the brutally punishing hits he received in New Orleans. And some even doubted his playing ability. Which Favre responded with 4,202 passing yards, 33-touchdowns, and 7-interception season (career low), while boasting a 68.4 percent completion percentage (career high).
The sensational dramatic and historic career of legendary quarterback Brett Favre concluded yet another chapter in New Orleans in the 2010 NFC Championship game. And like usual it contained a roller coaster ride filled with events that would leave both Favre supporters and haters satisfied.
On the first play from scrimmage for the Vikings, Favre was hit and jolted to the ground to start what would eventually be an abusing game for the ages for number four.
Despite the cruel chastisement Favre received, he was still able to break multiple NFL All Time Postseason records, passing Joe Montana for the most completions, touchdowns, and yards. Along with those records he also broke the record for most interceptions in postseason history.
The pressure and big time hits eventually took its toll on Favre after an unyielding and precise first half. When he felt the heat coming in the third quarter Favre threw a slant intended to Sidney Rice too soon and into traffic for an interception. But this play should definitely have been brought back after a clear roughing the passer penalty was missed. Favre got hit cleanly high by one Saints defender, but the second player to reach him was Bobby McCray, who clearly hit Favre below the knee. Brett fell to the ground awkwardly and was barely able to limp off the field under his own power. At this point some doubted Favre’s return, but never was there a suspicion in my mind that the toughest quarterback in NFL history was going to miss such a crucial moment in his team’s season.
With the game tied and around two minutes left in the fourth quarter it was time for the moment Favre had been waiting for all season. He got right to work and marched the Vikings into field goal range with a sharp display of throws including one tremendous toss to his favorite target Sidney Rice. But that’s when the fairy tale story took a wrong turn. After two runs didn’t net any yards the Vikings faced a third down from the New Orleans 33 yard line. Following a timeout, an inexcusable mistake was made by Minnesota. They were penalized for a crucial twelve men in the huddle penalty that would prove vital to the conclusion of their season. The blame for this one has to go on Coach Childress, as it’s the coach’s responsibility to have the reigns on his team following a timeout full of his instructions. This penalty pushed the Vikes back five yards and now pushed Childress to pick a pass play. Favre rolled out and surveyed the field and threw a risky pass against the grain back towards the middle of the field and paid the price for it with a dream crushing interception. When seeing the replay it became a common observation that Brett had space down the sideline to scramble and gain some yardage that would have definitely set up a kick for teammate Ryan Longwell, but that is easier said than done. Favre was completely battered and bruised all game long and hasn’t made any habit of scrambling for yards at all this season. Instead he took his chances with a throw that we all have seen him connect on numerous times. In fact he actually hit Rice on the same exact play the week before against Dallas in the Divisional Round. But it this time he had no such luck as an aggressive Tracy Porter stepped up and made a huge play for the Saints.
To add onto Minnesota’s misery there was some controversy to follow once they entered overtime. To start with we all know the overtime rule was going to be called into question. Especially when the game concluded with the receiving team winning on their first possession. The Saints won the toss and received. The first moment of controversy came on a huge 4th and inches. Pierre Thomas leaped across the first down marker when he lost control of the ball after Ben Leber’s helmet popped the ball loose. It is quite apparent that when Thomas regained total possession of the ball he was short of the first down marker, but the refs decided that the ruling on the field should stand because the evidence was inconclusive. The debate continued on the next play as Vikings linebacker Ben Leber was at the center of attention again as he was flagged for a very questionable pass interference penalty. It can be argued that the Brees pass wasn’t catchable or even that the contact was minimal. This put the Saints in field goal range and New Orleans’ kicker Garret Hartley pounded a 40-yard field goal through to send Favre and the Vikings home with their heads down in disappointment.
The Favre haters out there will be quick to throw the entire fault on the shoulders of Brett, but it was rather obvious that there was plenty of blame to go around. But if you are desperate to pin the blame for this devastating loss on someone look no further than the fumbling Vikings. Adrian Peterson failed to look in a handoff inside the Saints five yard line. Percy Harvin committed a careless fumble, which gave the Saints the ball on the Minnesota seven yard line and led to a touchdown. Bernard Berrian fumbled at the Saints ten yard line fighting for some extra yards. Without these numerous sloppy mistakes it would most likely have been a comfortable Minnesota win.
Something that hasn’t gotten the attention it deserved all season is the amazing toughness and durability of Favre throughout the season. The beating he has taken at the age of 40 and yet he still withstands it all to put up phenomenal play and statistics. He has more than lived up to the reputation of the NFL’s iron man and as long as he still wants to play I am pretty sure the Minnesota Vikings will be welcoming him back with open arms.
So with this chapter in the Brett Favre legacy complete we are once again forced to ponder if the entire storybook is done along with it. Either way I am sure that there are a couple things I can guarantee you. Brett Favre’s legacy has not been tainted at all after this season; it has only grown to a higher level. He had one of the best seasons of his career and proved at the age of 40 he can still not only play but also he can perform at an MVP level. So before everyone jumps to the lame Favre choked away another season with a bone headed interception conclusion, take a look at the big picture. Brett owns basically every passing record in NFL history and if his team didn’t have a severe case of fumblitis in the NFC Title game we would most likely be talking about the continuance of the legendary career of number four Brett Favre in the Super Bowl. At the same time though, it only took one late mistake to provide all the Favre detractors with plenty of ammo for years to come.