Brett Favre and Roger Clemens: Not The Odd Couple.

Joe BellearContributor ISeptember 3, 2010

Full disclosure: I've always liked Rocket and I just really hate Brett Favre, so take this for what it's worth (also, you can skip down to about the fifth to last paragraph if you want to skip the point since most of this is just a summary of their careers from age 37-plus.

There are a lot of parallels in the careers of Roger Clemens and Brett Favre.  Both of them are good 'ol Southern Boys with right arms capable of throwing fireballs.  While Favre got his championship out of the way early,  Clemens had to wait 15 years for his first taste of title glory, however neither man has ever been mistaken for a reliable "CLUTZ" postseason performer.  But the interesting parallels begin as both men entered the late 30s/early 40s portions of their careers.

Clemens was 37-years-old when he arrived in the Bronx after winning 41 games in two seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays.  Over those two years in Toronto his combined ERA was 2.33, he pitched 498.2 innings allowing just 373 hits, 20 home runs while striking out 563 batters, and walking just 156.  In his first two seasons with the Yankees, Clemens  mustered just 27 wins while losing 18 games. His ERA was 4.13, he threw just 392 innings, allowed 369 hits, allowed 46 home runs, struck out just 351, and walked 174 batters. Clearly it appeared, his decline had finally begun. A little later than most pitchers, but nothing off the charts, outrageous, or suspicious.  The Rocket would bounce back, at least wins-wise, from 2001-2003.  During that span he went 50-18 with an ERA of 3.90 as he enjoyed the benefit of having a powerful Yankees' offense behind him.  Still, after the two years he spent in Toronto the fact that Clemens was merely above average in New York as opposed to dominant was disappointing, although expected as he grew older.

In Brett Favre's age 37 season in 2006, it appeared as if time had also finally caught up to "The Gunslinger". Favre had followed up a 2005 season that saw him throw 20 touchdowns and 29 interceptions along with a 61.3% completion percentage with a 2006 where he threw just 18 touchdowns, his lowest total since his first season as a starter in 1992. He paired that with 18 interceptions making it the first time his career that he had thrown equal to or more interceptions to touchdowns and he recorded the lowest cmp percent (56.0) in his career.  Favre didn't appear long for the NFL and the Green Bay Packers agreed, having had the foresight to draft Aaron Rodgers in the 2005 NFL Draft with the 24th pick.

Despite announcing he was set to retire following the 2003 season, Clemens signed on with the Houston Astros with allure of playing close to home and alongside his then-buddy Andy Pettitte, too tempting to pass over.  Clemens enjoyed a resurgance in his first season with the Astros, looking like the guy who had been pitching in Toronto six years ago.  Clemens went 18-4 with a 2.98 ERA, recorded his lowest WHIP and most strikeouts since 1998 and won seventh and final Cy Young award.

After another season of "Will I Retire or Not", Clemens arrived back in the Bronx, infamously in "George Steinbrenner's Box".  Unfortunately for the Yankees, they got back the guy who appeared to be declining back in 2003 and not the one who had been pitching in Houston the past three years.   Roger went just 6-6 with an ERA of 4.18, his highest ERA since 2002 while recording the lowest SO/9 ratio (6.2) of his career while dealing with hamstring issues throughout his return.

In the same year Clemens would finally see his storied career end, Favre's was beginning again (whether we knew it at the time or not). Favre bounced back from his disappointing 2005 and 2006 seasons and helped lead the Packers to a 13-3 record by throwing 28 touchdowns to just 15 interceptions. He threw for more yards (4155) than he had in nine years and recorded what was at the time the highest completion percentage (66.5 percent) of his career.  However, after both he and his team faltered versus the New York Giants in the NFC Championship Game, Favre announced that was it and he was ready to retire.

Favre eventually reneged on his decision and decided he wanted to continue to play and blamed the Packers for wanting to move on with Aaron Rodgers as the reason he prematurely retired.  After much speculation and controversy, including rumors of tampering violations due to alleged conversations between Favre and Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress, Favre ultimately ended up with the New York Jets.

Favre's arrival appeared to seemingly make the Jets instant legitimate contenders.  Through 11 games, the Jets stood at 8-3 and Favre had thrown 20 touchdowns and just 13 interceptions.  With the Giants also cruising through the regular season, New York fans began to dream of a NY Super Bowl.  However, Favre suffered an arm injury in Week 11 (unknown to fans at the time and a fact that would not be known until September of 2009) and his performance suffered.  He would go on to throw two touchdowns and nine interceptions down the stretch and the Jets finished 9-7. Still prior to his injury, Favre appeared well on his way to leading the Jets into the postseason while posting another impressive statistical season at age 39.

Again another retirement announcement was made in February 2009, but after Favre underwent shoulder surgery in May, speculation began again that his return was imminent.  Nearly a year later, Favre finally arrived at his desired location of Minneosta on August 18, 2009 right at the end of training camp.  As terrific as Favre had been in 2007 and in the first half of 2008, he looked like a new quarterback in 2009.  Favre threw 33 touchdowns, his highest total since his Super Bowl season in 1997, against just seven interceptions, the lowest total of his career and he again set a new high in completion percentage at 68.4 percent. Naturally he had the highest quarterback rating of his career by far, at 107.2, the first time in his career he registered a rating above 100.0.

Of that 2009 season, Favre said this past July to USA Today, ""When I had the shoulder surgery last year, it was nothing short of a miracle, I was throwing the ball a week later. Not far and not with a lot of velocity, but with no pain—it was completely gone.  Not one pass during (last) season did I ever feel any—any—pain from the shoulder."

At age 40, Brett Favre enjoyed the best season of his career coming off of an injury that had made him look like amateur less than a year earlier.

Favre has once again returned, after training camp, to the Minnesota Vikings.  He will turn 41 years of age this October and it remains to be seen if Favre will continue his "Clemens in Houston" type renaissance or if this will finally be his version of "Clemens back in the Bronx".

Consider this, it's generally assumed the reason that Favre hems and haws about retiring is so that he can skip training camp, which is probably true.  But how about this, for as long as Favre isn't officially listed on a NFL depth chart, he can't be drug tested!  Imagine that, in 2009 after suffering an arm injury he got surgery and "miraculously" he felt great!  This offseason, Favre got ankle surgery and surprise, he feels great.  Both times he skipped training camp. Could it be that Favre is playing with PED cycles?  Waiting for certain drugs to exit his system? It can't be dismissed in today's age.

Clemens too, following the 2005 season played this game, once with the Astros and then with the Yankees.  The infamous "half season".  Could Clemens too have decided that under more strict MLB testing, he couldn't risk it anymore?  His one alibi in 2006 could be that he did play in the WBC, which follows Olympic drug testing guidelines, but he wouldn't have that fact to hide behind in 2007.

So while most people I know hate Brett Favre and Clemens is a pariah and indefensible anyway, I guess I only wrote this as a way to vent.  Take it for what you will and draw your own conclusions.  In the meantime, I'm going to hope that Favre had a personal trainer that he screwed over who is out for vengeance. 


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