Brett Favre at a news conference after his final game
Brett Favre was once heralded as a top Franchise QB in the NFL. He took the Green Bay Packers to the Super Bowl twice and you would have to be living in a hole not to know the number of records he holds.
His start in the NFL was a rough one, and so, it would turn out, was his departure. But he should still be remembered as the great QB that he was.
The following slides depict the journey of Brett Favre, and lay the groundwork for remembering him as the legend he is. This is not an article pointing to all of his records in the NFL. Many have already done that. This article focuses on other foundational characteristics that also made Brett Favre who he is. Things you may not have even known about him.
Brett Favre at Southern Mississippi
When Brett was offered a scholarship to play at Southern Mississippi (his only offer) in 1987, they wanted him to play defensive back. He asked to be given a chance at quarterback. They gave it to him, but this meant he was relegated to seventh-string.
Most young players would have been discouraged and looked to play elsewhere. But Brett stayed and was given his first opportunity to play at that position just three games later. On this day, Favre led his team to a come-from-behind victory against Tulane. This would be the first of many for Brett Favre.
Another first of many to come, was the foreshadowing of a gritty toughness and ability to play through injuries.
Brett Favre was in a near-fatal car accident just prior to his senior year. He lost control of his car and it rolled over three times before hitting a tree. 30 inches of his small intestine had to be removed.
Brett's first words to his mother were, "Will I be able to play football?"
That question was answered six weeks later when he helped Southern Miss win another come-from-behind game against Alabama.
It was such an incredible performance by the young quarterback that even the coach from Alabama, Gene Stallings, could not dismiss what he had just witnessed.
Stallings was quoted as saying, "You can call it a miracle or a legend or whatever you want to. I just know that on that day, Brett Favre was larger than life."
Yes, you are seeing this picture correctly. It is Brett playing against the Falcons in 1995 and not Brett as a Falcon in 1991. Apparently they didn't take photos back then of Rookie quarter backs.
Oh wait, there may be another reason.
Even though Favre was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in the second round, 33rd overall in 1991, the Falcons coach, Jerry Glanville, did not approve of drafting him.
Glanville made his feelings known when he stated that it would "take a plane crash for him to put Favre into the game." Harsh.
But even that did not stop Brett from wanting to be an NFL quarterback. Nor did it keep other recruiting staff from wondering if perhaps he was just on the wrong team.
In 1992, Brett Favre became a Green Bay Packer. He was wanted on this team.
There are two interesting facts about this transaction:
First, the person who brought him over to Green Bay had worked with the New York Jets the year before. This is only important because this same person, Ron Wolf, an assistant to the GM at that time, wanted the Jets to draft Brett Favre but he had already been taken off the boards by the Falcons.
When Wolf traded for Brett, he had taken the position of GM for the Packers, and he was not going to be denied a second time.
What would Favre's career looked like if he had started with the Jets? No one can really know the answer to that, but we do know what happened to Brett's career in Green Bay.
Nice move, Mr. Wolf.
On to the second interesting fact...
Second, when Green Bay's GM, Ron Wolf took Brett for his physical, both he, and Brett, got some bad news.
Favre was diagnosed with avascular necrosis (also referred to as osteonecrosis), of the hip. This means that the bone tissue in his hip was literally dying. This is a condition that gets much worse over time, can be crippling if it is not treated, and can be incredibly painful.
Remember Bo Jackson? For the younger readers, I'll give you a brief run-down on Bo. He was the Heisman Trophy winner in 1985. An All-Star player in both football and baseball. The number one draft pick in 1986 (Bucs), and eventually a very competent Running Back for the Raiders from (mid-1987-1990).
In 1990, Bo Jackson was tackled by Kevin Walker in the playoffs. Bo stayed down with a serious injury to his hip. Later, he was diagnosed as having avascular necrosis. Bo Jackson's football career ended the day he sustained the injury to his hip. Yes, the same degenerative condition that Brett Favre has, could have been (and was for Bo) a career killer.
The doctors recommended that Brett's physical be failed. Failing his physical would have nullified the trade. Wolf knew this and overruled the recommendations. Brett Favre's legacy in Green Bay had begun.
This brings us back to the sheer grittiness of Brett Favre. One injury to his hip could have ended his career...but he chose to play anyway.
Here's where the story should be getting better, right? Brett joins the Packers and the rest is history...not quite yet.
In his first year as a Packer, Brett had a rough start. Many know, but some do not, that in his very first pass attempt, in the second game of the 1992 season, Brett's pass was deflected, and he ended up catching it himself. So, yes, Brett caught his own first pass as a Packer QB.
Even though they ended up losing this game to the Buccaneers, Brett's time on the field was not over.
The Packers first-string QB, Don Majkowski, was injured in the following game against the Bengals. It was an injury that would put him out of commission for four weeks.
Time for the young-gun to step up.
Favre started out a little shaky, by fumbling the ball four times. However, the game wasn't over yet, and Brett had led comebacks before. The Packers were down 23-17 with only 1:07 left in the game. The offense started on their own 8 yard line.
Pressure was mounting on the shoulders of the young QB. Fans had been booing him the majority of the game and were calling for their other back up, Ty Detmer, to be put in.
Once again Brett showed what he was made of.
It was time to work his magic.
Favre first completed a 42 yard pass to Sterling Sharpe. Just three plays later he threw to Kitrick Taylor for, what would be, the game winning touchdown.
There were 13 seconds remaining on the clock.
Now things were finally starting to look up.
Fast forward just one week.
The Packers played against the Steelers in their fourth game of the 1992 season. Majkowski was still out.
Brett Favre had won the starting spot. The booing turned to anticipation. Maybe this kid deserved another chance.
Favre led the Packers to a victory against the Steelers. It was also the game that would eventually put Brett in the record books.
Brett's start against the Steelers would mark the beginning of his the record for the longest consecutive starting streak in the history of the NFL.
A legend was born.
Brett Favre was still at the helm in Green Bay in 1996. By this point, the young kid who was once booed by Packer fans, had become a hometown hero.
This time, he led the Packers to the Super Bowl, and won. The Lombardi Trophy had returned to Green Bay. A place it hadn't seen since Super Bowl II.
Thanks, in big part, to Brett, the Packers had become a dominant force in the NFC.
In the span of three years (2003-2005), Favre experienced a great deal of loss and major health scares.
If you followed Green Bay at all, or never missed a Monday Night Football game, you could not have been anything but moved on Dec. 22nd, 2003.
Brett's father, Irvin, had just died the day before.
Still in shock and grieving his loss, Favre made the decision that he would play on the 22nd, as a tribute to his father.
It was one of the most electrifying games he ever commanded.
Favre passed for four touchdowns in the first half alone. The Packers went on to beat the Raiders 41-7. Even the Raiders fans cheered for Brett that day.
After the game, Favre was quoted as saying, "I knew that my dad would have wanted me to play. I love him so much and I love this game. It's meant a great deal to me, to my dad, to my family, and I didn't expect this kind of performance. But I know he was watching tonight."
Ten months later, his brother-in-law, Casey Tynes, was killed in an all-terrain vehicle accident.
In 2004, his wife, Deanna, was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. She went through aggressive treatment and survived.
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina arrived and destroyed their family home.
Throughout all of this, Favre continued to play football.
Many things happened in 2007.
The iPhone hit the market and changed the face of...well...phones
For the first time in history, there is a three-way tie on Jeopardy
The Country mourned 32 Virginia Tech students and employees who were shot to death
J. K. Rowling released her final book in the Harry Potter Series
Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize, and,
Michael Vick pleaded guilty to dog fighting
It was a busy year.
In 2007, a now aging QB (for NFL standards), Brett Favre led the Packers to a 13-3 regular season record. This effort also culminated in the Packers being the NFC North championship and holding the second seed in the NFC playoffs.
Not bad for an "older" QB.
The Packers won their first game in their hunt for a division title against the Seahawks but then lost to the New York Giants, by a field goal, in OT. The Giants went on to win the Super Bowl.
Brett had made it clear, prior to the playoffs, that he wanted to continue to play football in 2008.
Green Bay fans had embraced him for 16 seasons.
He was loved by most and had a love/hate relationship with other fans who loved his arm when it came to touchdowns and great passes, but hated his arm when he threw interceptions or fumbled the ball.
From the outside, it seemed like that's just what you got with Brett Favre. He threw touch downs and he threw interceptions, but most of the time the way he could thread the needle with a cannon arm outweighed the times the other team caught the ball.
2008 was an awkward year.
Packer fans didn't know if Favre was their QB or not. In fact, Brett didn't even know if he was their QB. There was a lot of media attention given to the "quarterback situation" in Green Bay.
On March 4th, 2008, Green Bay got their answer. Brett Favre tearfully retired.
But of course, as we know, that was not the end of it.
Favre wrote to the NFL and asked to be reinstated. They granted him this wish.
He showed up to Green Bay for training camp but would not be playing for the Packers. They had made their decision to go with Aaron Rodgers and Brett did not want to play second-string.
Favre was eventually released and joined the New York Jets.
We all know how that turned out.
Another thing you probably DO know is that the Vikings coach at the time (Leslie Frazier) and several of the Vikings players wanted Brett to play for them and bring them to the Super Bowl. All they needed was an experienced QB to lead the way.
It was a good run in 2009.
Favre led the Vikings to a 12-4 regular season. They beat the Cowboys in the division playoffs (a first for Brett who had lost to the Cowboys in every previous postseason game against them). But then lost to the Saints by three points in the Conference Playoffs.
Favre would return for one more year.
The 2010 season did not go nearly as well. The team only won 6 of 16 regular season games and Brett was out, or had limited playing time, most of the season due to injuries.
Will 2010 be Brett's final season of football?
I believe it will be. I was just sorry to seem him leave the way he did.
I was at the Lions/Vikings game in January, 2011, at Ford Field. I expected to hear some noise from the Vikings when Brett stepped onto the field. To be honest, I wasn't even sure he showed up until I caught him standing on the sidelines in regular clothes after the game had started.
There wasn't even a farewell tribute to him when the game was over (and I'm a Lion's fan).
It was Brett's last game, and even though he wasn't playing in it, no attention was given to the significance of the day.
I understand not everyone is a Brett Favre fan. It's also possible that there were many events in Minnesota that I just didn't hear about commemorating his last day.
Or was it that his recent indiscretions over-shadowed his legacy as a football player?
I don't excuse what he did in New York. He has to be held accountable for his actions as all players (and all people) should be.
I just hope that, with time, people can remember how much he brought to the game of football. How exciting he was to watch as a player and how much he loved the sport.
Yes, Brett Favre holds a ton of QB records and history will reflect that.
But what about the guy you used to love to watch just to see him celebrating with his teammates and fans after every touchdown? Watching with anticipation, knowing that each score would result in a broad smile and Favre lifting his arm high into the air.
What about the guy who never gave up no matter what adversity he was facing? What about the small town guy from Mississippi who grew up to be one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL?
Will that guy be remembered?
Or, are we a "love you til we don't" society?
I suppose the answer to that is: we are...until we're not.
My hope is that Brett Favre goes down in history for what he did for the game of football and, personally, that he will correct his indiscretions in an honorable way.
How will you remember Favre?