Brett Favre: Mr. Overrated

Bryn Swartz@eaglescentralSenior Writer IIINovember 14, 2008


Nine Pro Bowl selections. Seven division titles. Super Bowl champion in 1996. Most Valuable Player in three consecutive years. Most touchdown passes in NFL history. 283 consecutive games played. 164 wins as a quarterback—40 of them coming from behind. A lock for the Hall of Fame.

And I have the nerve to call him overrated?


Brett Favre has always been one of the more popular players in the game, almost larger than life. His accomplishments are extremely revered and many of his records, including most consecutive games played and most MVP awards, may never be broken.

However, over the last 11 years Favre's failures, particularly in the postseason, have been largely overlooked and virtually ignored.


Recently, I read a B/R ranking on the greatest quarterbacks of all-time. Favre placed second on this list. I found this ranking to be absurd. I believe that there are two active quarterbacks with much more superior careers than Brett Favre (Manning and Brady).


Favre has a 12-10 career postseason record, including a Super Bowl ring (1996) and another Super Bowl appearance (1997). But in the last 11 years, Favre has won only three of his nine postseason starts. In a sport where the blame for a loss is placed on one position (quarterback) more frequently than any other sport, Favre's performances in January are inexcusable.


Favre escaped future criticism for his postseason play by winning a Super Bowl title early in his career (1996). Often, one Super Bowl title is all a quarterback needs to be forever considered a winner.


John Elway is 2-3 in the Super Bowl, with three blowout losses, but is considered to be one of the most clutch quarterbacks in NFL history. Both Eli and Peyton Manning can never again win a playoff game and, just like Favre, nobody will be able to take away their Super Bowl victory.


Let's closely examine Favre's postseason struggles, beginning in 2001.

In 2001, the Packers finished second in the NFC Central with a 12-4 mark. Favre led the Packers to a home win over the San Francisco 49ers, earning them the right to travel to

St. Louis to play the 14-2 Rams.


The Packers lost 45-17 and Brett Favre threw an NFL postseason record six interceptions, three of which were returned for touchdowns.


In 2002, the No.3 Packers hosted the No.6 Atlanta Falcons in the wild-card round. Brett Favre had never lost when the game time temperature was 34 degrees or below (a record of 35-0). The Packers had gone 8-0 at home in the regular season and no visiting team had ever won at Lambeau Field in the playoffs (13 games). The Falcons, led by 22-year-old Michael Vick, spanked the Packers 27-7.


In 2003, the Packers finished first in the division, winning 10 games. They defeated the Seattle Seahawks in overtime in the wild-card round of the playoffs, thanks to an interception touchdown by cornerback Al Harris.


In the NFC Divisional playoff game, Favre's overtime pass sailed over the head of the nearest Green Bay Packer. Brian Dawkins caught the pass—the only pass I've ever heard described a punt—and returned it 35 yards to set up David Akers' game-winning 31-yard field goal.


In 2004, the Packers again won the division with 10 games. They hosted the eight-win division rival Minnesota Vikings in the wild-card round—a  team they had defeated twice in the regular season. But this time, the Packers were clobbered 31-17, as Favre threw four interceptions and fumbled once.


The Vikings joined that year's Rams as the only teams to win a playoff game without finishing above .500 during the regular season.


In 2007, the 13-3 Packers hosted the 10-6 Giants in the conference championship game, after demolishing the Seahawks 42-20 in the divisional playoffs. Tied 20-20 after regulation, Favre threw an interception to Corey Webster on the first play of overtime.


The Giants won on a 47-yard field goal, making Favre the first quarterback in the history of the NFL to throw an interception in overtime in a playoff game twice in a career.

Now I am absolutely not trying to take away from Favre's accomplishments in the playoffs before 2001, notably his Super Bowl win in 1996 and NFC championship in 1997.


Favre has thrown for the second most passing yards and the second most passing touchdowns in NFL playoff history. But he has also lost more games and thrown more playoff interceptions than any other quarterback.


Favre got the job done during the regular season as a starting quarterback. He has won 167 games, the most among quarterbacks. He ranks first all-time in touchdown passes, passing yards, completions, and attempts.


But he also holds one of the more dubious records in NFL history: He has thrown 300 interceptions in his career—328 if one counts the postseason. Combined with his 165 fumbles (71 lost), Favre has committed 399 turnovers in his NFL career—an average of slightly over 22 per season.


By comparison, Vinny Testaverde, a man who might as well have been known as Mr. Turnover, turned the ball over about 21 times per season. Eli Manning, who despite his Super Bowl ring has struggled in his short career, has turned the ball over 18 times per season. Rex Grossman, who in a recent article I called one of the more disgusting quarterbacks to ever play in the NFL, has averaged about 18 turnovers per season.


There is no way to hide or ignore this statistic. Not turning the ball over is one of the most important, if not the most important jobs of an NFL quarterback. Favre has struggled in this category.


Greatly, greatly struggled.


Five times in his career, Brett Favre has committed more turnovers than he has thrown touchdown passes.


In 2005, he turned in one of the more atrocious seasons by a quarterback in recent memory, tossing 29 interceptions while losing seven fumbles, for an NFL-high 36 turnovers in 16 games.


However, Brett Favre has earned a reputation for playing through pain, and rightfully so. And not just pain, but a swollen ankle supposedly six times its normal size. A broken thumb on his throwing hand, a sprained lateral collateral ligament in his left knee, elbow tendinitis, a sprained foot, turf toe, and a separated shoulder.


He was named the Toughest Athlete by USA Today in 2003. He has never missed a game due to injury and has missed just over one-percent of offensive plays in his career.


Supporters of Brett Favre will argue that he had very few, if any, superstar teammates. I will agree with this—to an extent.


The 1996 Super Bowl champion Packers sported the number one defense in the NFL, led by Reggie White, LeRoy Butler, and Darren Sharper. Sterling Sharpe is, in my opinion, the most underrated wide receiver in NFL history, and would have been a Hall of Famer if not for his neck injury. However, that was about it.


He had Antonio Freeman, William Henderson, Dorsey Levens, Ahman Green, Robert Brooks, Javon Walker, and Donald Driver. These were all very good players, but none would be considered one of the best players in the NFL.


Having a wide receiver like Jerry Rice or Marvin Harrison would have helped Favre complete more passes and throw more touchdown passes, but he would still be the king of turnovers.


Bottom line: Favre ranks first all-time in every single major passing category, including yards, touchdown passes, and wins. He earned three consecutive MVP awards and led the Packers to a Super Bowl victory in 1996. He played through more injuries than almost any player in history and has led 40 come-from-behind victories in his career.


Too many of his moments have been larger than life, and frankly overrated. He is given far too much credit for having fun and celebrating. He is a likeable guy and people want to view him as one of the three or four greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game.


But focus on the facts.


He flat-out choked in the playoffs in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2007. His '96 Packers were 1,000 times better than the New England Patriots, and it would have been considered an enormous disappointment had they lost the Super Bowl. The Pack was heavily favored against the Broncos in 1997 and did lose, costing Favre a second ring.


He forces way too many passes and has set interception records that may never be broken. The last 11 years of his career have not matched his first six seasons, and some of his full seasons have been flat-out disappointing for a quarterback in the NFL.


Favre is a fantastic quarterback, and probably the greatest in team history. But he is nowhere near number one and struggles to crack my list of the top 10 quarterbacks of all-time.


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