Why Brett Favre is the Greatest NFL Quarterback of All-Time

Kevin Roberts@BreakingKevinSenior Writer IJanuary 21, 2010

MINNEAPOLIS - JANUARY 17:  Quarterback Brett Favre #4 of the Minnesota Vikings warms up before the game against the Dallas Cowboys during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on January 17, 2010 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

When hearing discussions about the greatest players (by position) of all-time, I often hear "experts" say things like, "Brett Favre is the greatest football player I have ever seen, but he's not the best quarterback to play the game."

Statements like that just boggle the mind.

Really, what does that even mean?

Many writers and fans alike have debated (and will continue to debate) who the greatest players of all-time are at their respective positions.

Granted, there are extremely strong arguments for a lot of quarterbacks, but ultimately, there can only be one.

Warren Moon compiled ridiculous numbers in a long career that lasted until age 43. His numbers are even more impressive in the NFL when compared to others as he only started playing in the league at age 27.

There is Dan "The Man" Marino, with all of his records (despite most of them being broken), playoff and Pro Bowl trips, and his style of play.

And, of course, you have your vintage quarterbacks, such as Johnny Unitas, Joe Namath, Fran Tarkenton, and so many more.

But what really separates any of them from the rest of the bunch?

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All the candidate have amazing numbers, most of them have found great success with their respective teams, and almost all of them have a distinct, personal style of play.

But really, in terms of numbers, winning, longevity, and style of play, who even comes close to touching Favre?

It shouldn't even be a debate anymore.

Sure, Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw, Troy Aikman, and Tom Brady all have at least three Super Bowl rings to their name, but the number of championships won isn't necessarily reflective on how great of a player the quarterback is.

No person in their right mind would say Aikman was ever on the same level as Montana, Bradshaw, Brady, or Favre.

It's extremely arguable that Montana, at least during the 1980s, had much better weapons (Jerry Rice, anyone?) than any of the other listed quarterbacks and was routinely backed by a strong supporting defense.

But even that doesn't matter and really shouldn't come into play when reaching a conclusion.

Supporting casts and offensive weapons can't be made relevant because the assistance or affect any other player or coach had on a quarterback can't be measured without being biased. It just can't be done.

For the most part, Peyton Manning has played at an elite level for his entire career. He has always had elite receivers and a big, strong offensive line to protect him.

Why should that be used against him in this debate?

The truth is it shouldn't.

Throw out the comparisons to coaches, defenses, and offensive lines. While I feel Favre has done more with less talent around him over the span of his career, there's no true way to prove it.

It's an opinion.

Ultimately, so too is deciding on who is the "greatest" at something, particularly in a sport that is truly won and lost in the trenches—even if the quaterback postion is more glorified.

But we are talking about quarterbacks and trying to figure out who the best in history is.

So, instead of testaments, opinions, hearsay, and "what ifs," I'll deliver the facts and ultimately, leave you, the fan, to decide:

The Numbers

There just isn't anyone like Favre when it comes to being a prolific passer. Marino retired at age 38 with 420 career touchdown passes. When he did so, the next closest quarterback was Fran Tarkenton, who had long since been retired, with 342.

However, after concluding his 19th regular season (18th as a starter), Favre now stands above Marino and the rest with 497 career touchdown passes.

Rather than looking at the stats Favre is generally judged on—making plays with his arm and scoring points for his team—what better way to judge a quarterback than on his level of play?

No one has done it more than Favre.

Manning, 33, stands in third place in touchdowns thrown. He is the only active quarterback with a realistic chance at catching Favre in the scoring department. He has thrown 366 touchdowns, leaving him 131 touchdown passes out of first place.

If Manning can average 26 touchdowns for the next five seasons, by the time he's 38, he could own the touchdown passing record.

But that's if he stays healthy, his offense stays potent, and he doesn't regress as he gets older. And, of course, that's if Favre retires.

Favre holds the record for most 3,000-plus yard season, 30-plus touchdown seasons, career wins, and is on the cusp of even breaking more NFL postseason records.

He holds every major passing category record and is unlikely to relinquish them to anyone other than Manning. Again, that's if Manning can stay healthy and keep his current pace.

His Longevity

Favre has played nearly two full decades, never missed a single start, and at 40 years old in 2009, recorded quite arguably his best season as a pro.

Even if it's not Favre's personal best, it's easily the best season the NFL has seen by a quarterback (or any player) after hitting the age of 40.

It's not just how long he's played, managed to avoid any significant injuries, or ever missed a game. That's all impressive, but that's not the part that gets everyone scratching their heads.

It's the fact that the guy is still slinging the ball like a 27-year-old, moving around better than he did in his 30s, and still performing at an elite level.

His 4,200-plus yards, 33 touchdowns, and mere seven interceptions are a testament of that.

If, for some reason, you can't bring yourself to agree that Favre is the greatest to ever play the game, you at least have to admit what he's doing right now is unprecedented. And really, it's just a little unbelievable.

He's a Winner

He's got the stats, the milestones, "the streak", and all the backing of a Dan Marino or Fran Tarkenton incarnate

But he's better than themliterally.

He's won more games than any quarterback in the history of the league, sitting atop second place John Elway by 33 victories.

It's only natural that one would happen upon quite a few career regular season wins after playing as long as Favre has. But 181 isn't a "few," and his success hasn't just happened by chance.

Although the stats are a bit controversial, Favre ranks second only to John Elway in fourth quarter comebacks, citing his clutch ability.

Favre has also led his teams to 11 playoff appearances, and will appear in his fifth NFC Championship Game against the New Orleans Saints.

He's been to two Super Bowls, claimed a championship, and led three separate teams to winning records in three consecutive seasons—something no one had done before him and likely never will.


Favre is not George Blanda. He's thrown more interceptions than Blanda, but Favre isn't an aging veteran that's kicking field goals as his career is winding down. He's not sitting on the sidelines and he's not withering away.

He's not Marino, either. He's won a Super Bowl, been to two, and could very well be on his way to going to his third (at the time of this article).

He's not Tarkenton, Elway, or Dan Fouts. He's Favre, and he's better than them in every possible way.

In fact, the only acceptable answers for "Who is the Greatest Quarterback in NFL History?" other than Favre, would be Montana or Unitas.

But even they didn't play the game anywhere close to the enthusiasm and passion that Favre has. They don't have his numbers and they don't have his remarkable longevity.

The guy is 40 years old, playing at the same level as Manning and Drew Brees, leading a team he's been with for less than six months on the cusp of a Super Bowl berth.

How is he not the greatest quarterback of all-time?

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