Did Brett Favre Underachieve?

I know, I know, the headline appears ridiculous at first, and you’re likely questioning my raising of the question. How can someone who won the NFL MVP a record three consecutive seasons, holds the record for the longest consecutive starting streak, and retired as the career leader in pass completions, pass attempts, passing yards, and passing touchdowns possibly have underachieved? Amongst the assortment of spectacular stats Brett Favre compiled during his 20-year career, he also became the career leader in interceptions thrown and fumbles, both records he still holds as of this writing, unfortunately. Favre may have retired as the career leader for most quarterback wins, but had a 13-11 record in the playoffs, had only three first-team All-Pro selections in his lengthy career, and threw back-breaking interceptions in crucial playoff games. I was a fan of Favre during his playing days, but it’s worth examining his resume and pondering what he left on the table

Favre wasn’t a big-time quarterback recruit in high school, as his dad, the high school football coach, had a staunch running game during his son’s high school years. Favre rarely threw the ball more than five times a game but always impressed people with his arm strength and natural talent, eventually receiving his only D-1 football scholarship from his dad’s alma mater, The University of Southern Mississippi1. Southern Miss offensive line coach, Mark McHale, was the one who scouted and recruited Favre at Favre’s father’s urging, and it paid off rather quickly for McHale. Favre, a true freshman in 1987, worked his way up from seventh on the quarterback depth chart to second before winding up the four-year starter after entering their second game of the season against Tulane in the second half2. Favre was the school’s all-time leader in pass completions, pass attempts, passing yards, and passing touchdowns in his four seasons at Southern Miss by the time the Atlanta Falcons drafted him 33rd overall in the second round of the 1991 NFL draft.

Favre led Southern Miss to a comeback victory over Tulane in his first game, led the 10-2 Golden Eagles to a 38-18 victory over the UTEP Miners in the 1988 Independence Bowl, and led an upset win over the Florida State Seminoles in the 1989 season opener, who was ranked No. 6 at the time. His gutsiest and probably his most notable season was his senior year in 1990 when on July 14th, 1990, before the season, Favre flipped his car one mile away from his home in Kiln, Mississippi, and wound up in the hospital with lacerations, a concussion, and cracked vertebrae. He required 30 inches of his small intestine to be removed 24 days later, on August 7th, 1990, after suffering from complications. Incredibly, he returned to his starting role for the second game of the 1990 season just a month later and pulled off an upset victory over No. 13 ranked Alabama. They later had an upset win to close the season over No. 15 ranked Auburn but lost to the NC State Wolfpack in the 1990 All-American Bowl.

He certainly had notable moments during his collegiate years and was recognized for his talent, but nobody saw superstardom in his immediate future. He appeared in two games for the Falcons, throwing just four passes and getting two of them intercepted, including his first career pass being a pick-six or interception returned for a touchdown for the casual fans. He completed none of those pass attempts, all while being paid an average salary of $460,000 on a three-year, $1,385,000 contract that included a $450,000 signing bonus3 to be the backup quarterback for a head coach that didn’t see things eye-to-eye with him4.

Ron Wolf replaced former Packers vice president of football operations, Tom Braatz, becoming general manager on November 21st, 1991 when the team had a 2-9 record. After the season ended with the Packers sporting a 4-12 record, Wolf made the changes he deemed necessary to begin building a championship roster, starting with firing head coach Lindy Infante on December 22nd, 1991, and hiring Mike Holmgren to be the new head coach on January 11th, 19925. Wolf then made a trade on February 11th, 1992, with Ken Herock, the Falcons player personnel executive responsible for drafting Favre just nine months and 21 days prior, with the Packers trading a first-round draft pick for Favre.

Wolf secured his head coach and quarterback of the future, but initially, Favre was to be the backup to six-year veteran Don Majkowski to start the 1992 season. Majkowski did fine as the Packers starting quarterback in 1989, leading the NFL in pass completions, pass attempts, and passing yards. He also finished third in passing touchdowns and eighth in passer rating; however, his poor play and injury in 1990 led to him playing only half the 1990 season. 1991 would see him demoted to backup as the struggling Packers looked to get a spark anywhere. Holmgren, a disciple of Bill Walsh and the west coast offense, awarded Majkowski the starting job; Favre could slowly learn the system and the intricacies of the quarterback position behind a veteran.

That only lasted for two games before Majkowski tore a ligament in his ankle in the first quarter of their third game of the season against the Cincinnati Bengals. Favre got sacked five times, fumbled four times, and the running game managed just 3.3 yards per attempt for the entire day, excluding his rushing yards and attempts. He overthrew receivers early on, and fans booed him at points for his poor play. However, Favre still led the team on a fourth-quarter comeback and game-winning drive, finishing with a stat line of 22 completions out of 39 attempts for 289 passing yards and two passing touchdowns to go along with six rushes for 27 yards on the day. After making his first official start the following week against the Pittsburgh Steelers, he never missed a start until Aaron Rodgers became the starter before the 2008 season.

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With the long preamble out of the way, it should be clear I will not dock Favre too many points in the grand scheme of things for the team finishing 9-7 in 1992 after starting 1-2 following their comeback win against the Bengals. He may not have been a rookie anymore, but it was his first legit dose of NFL action. If you think I am being too lenient, consider this, Favre attempted more passes, 14, in the second half of a blowout loss against the Buccaneers in the Packers’ second game of the season than he did his entire tenure with the Falcons. He finished his season with a stat line of 302 completions, 471 attempts, 3,227 passing yards, 18 passing touchdowns, 13 interceptions, 6.9 yards per attempt, and an 85.3 passer rating. The Packers went 8-5 with Favre as the starter, including a six-game winning streak from week 11 to week 16 that saw the Packers go from 3-6 to 9-6; the Packers were on the cusp of returning to the postseason for the first time in ten seasons. However, after their defeat to the Vikings in week 17, the then Washington Redskins were awarded the final wild card spot due to owning a better in-conference record6. Still, one must consider this a successful season due to the Packers greatly exceeding their low projections.

His raw counting numbers may not leap off the screen, but remember this was 1992; Favre finished ninth in passing yards, seventh in passing yards per game, sixth in passer rating, and was in a five-way tie for 15th place in yards per attempt. His 302 completions tied him with Troy Aikman for second place in the NFL, while his 471 attempts placed him at fifth, placing his completion percentage of 64.1% at fourth place. His 13 interceptions may appear too high at first glance since he started in 13 games and received playing time in 15 of them, but consider that his interception percentage of 2.8% meant he finished third in that statistic. Those 13 interceptions gave him a tie with Rich Gannon at 14th place overall; his 12 fumbles stood out more than the interceptions. However, that placed him in a five-way tie for second, and eleven of them came before their six-game winning streak. He was much more of a game-manager in his first real season, but he was also incredibly productive in that role.

Instead, I’ll save the criticism for his 1993 season, where he played pretty poorly. His numbers overall regressed as he also led the league in interceptions for the first time in his career, something he would go on to do twice more in his career. He threw 24 interceptions, the first of his six seasons with 20 or more interceptions thrown, making him second-worst amongst qualifying quarterbacks in interception percentage in 1993. It’s worth noting the only player below him was Rodney Peete, who played in six fewer games and threw 270 fewer passes. Despite ranking second in both completions and attempts once more, with 318 and 522, respectively, also finishing sixth in passing yards with 3,303 and fifth in passing touchdowns with 19, he also was in a four-way tie leading the NFL in pick-sixes, throwing three of them. He regressed to 6.3 yards per attempt and a completion percentage of 60.9%, tying him in 18th place with Wade Wilson and tenth place with Boomer Esiason, respectively; his 72.2 passer rating placed him 20th out of 30 qualifying quarterbacks. Eliminating five of the quarterbacks below Favre who didn’t play in at least 14 games, however, reveals the only thing keeping Favre above 26th-ranked Craig Erickson was a completion percentage higher by 9.9% and a passing yards per game average higher by 15.5 yards.

The defense improved considerably in 1993, going from 15th in points allowed and 23rd in yards allowed in 1992 to ninth and second, respectively. Their passing yards allowed, passing touchdowns allowed, rushing yards allowed, rushing touchdowns allowed, and yards per rush allowed all went up from 23rd, 8th, 16th, 14th, and 26th to 7th, 7th, 8th, 1st, and 11th, respectively. However, this was a surprise to nobody since they acquired the legendary defensive end, Reggie White, on April 6th, 1993, a mere 36 days after the NFL first implemented the free agency system7. However, the Packers were still a work-in-progress, emphasized by their ten new starters and moving three starters from ’92 to different positions. The rushing attack did improve from 23rd and 22nd in rushing touchdowns and rush yards per attempt to third and 19th, and while they gained 64 more rushing yards in ’93 than ’92, they finished a spot lower in ’93; 22nd from 21st. While their offense improved to sixth in points scored, they regressed to 19th in total yards, resulting in another 9-7 record. Despite my highlighting Favre’s negative play, he did have three fourth-quarter comebacks and three game-winning drives and made his second Pro Bowl.

However, it’s also fair to say Favre’s poor play was a primary factor in their finishing 9-7. Just take a quick scan of the image below showing Favre’s statistical splits in wins and losses for the ’93 season. A quarterback should logically perform worse in losses than he does in wins but peaking at an 80.3 passer rating in wins compared to a 63.4 passer rating in losses isn’t anything to brag about either.

Various Favre documentaries abridge the period between his first start and the 1994 season as a stiff learning period, usually accompanied by several selfsame clips from earlier documentaries of Favre’s reckless play and Holmgren acting incredulously on the sideline. Favre indeed asked backup quarterback Ty Detmer what a nickel defense was at some point during these first two seasons; however, based on his statistics alone, it’s clear his early struggles came mostly during a stereotypical sophomore slump. His performances in losses in 1992 compared to wins weren’t far better, as he posted a passer rating of 100.7 in wins compared to a 65.4 rating in losses, but he was overall more efficient in ’92 than in ’93. Also, the defense’s perceived improvement before the 1993 season came along with higher expectations for the offense’s consistency and the team’s overall win total. Favre’s regression was undeniably a factor in them repeating at 9-7, but whether or not Holmgren was seriously ever considered replacing Favre with Detmer is irrelevant as Detmer only attempted five passes all season, even with Favre’s struggles.

Typifying Favre’s substandard play this season was his performance in the final game of the season against the Packers’ longtime division rival, the Detroit Lions. Sitting at 9-6, Favre closed the season with his worst passer rating for a game all year, finishing with a 44.7 passer rating to go along with four interceptions and just 190 passing yards against 23 completions out of 37 attempts and one passing touchdown. Thankfully for the Packers, they still managed to make the playoffs as the sixth seed despite the loss, but they had to travel back to the stadium they just lost in a week prior and play the newly-crowned division champion Lions in the Wild Card Round. It was there Favre made one of his many highlight-reel plays, displaying a little gunslinging magic at the end of the game as he scrambled left, reset, and threw a game-winning 40-yard touchdown pass to Sterling Sharpe for his third receiving touchdown of the game. The Packers scrappy season ended with a 27-17 defeat to the NFC runner-up Dallas Cowboys in the Divisional Round. Even with a vastly improved defense, it wasn’t incredibly realistic to expect the Packers to overthrow the Cowboys so soon into their ascension. They had made the playoffs for the first time since 1982, a strike-shortened season; with their last postseason appearance in a fully-scheduled season coming in 1972 and the team capturing a playoff win amongst inconsistencies, Green Bay was happy to show signs of competitiveness again.

1994 was a kind of breakout year for Favre, as he set career highs in completions, attempts, passing yards, passing touchdowns, passer rating, and interception percentage. His 363 completions are worth noting, as they were the most completions he accumulated in one regular season of play until 2005 and was the seventh-most completions by a quarterback in one season throughout the entirety of the 1990s. Three other quarterbacks finished above him that very season, with Drew Bledsoe also breaking the record for most passing attempts in one season that same year with 691, a record that stood until Matthew Stafford attempted 727 passes in 2012. Favre, by contrast, finished 11th on the 1990s leaderboard for most passing attempts in one season throughout the decade with his 582 pass attempts in ’94. He finished fourth in both categories but fifth in passing yards with 3,882 in ’94; his yards per attempt of 6.7 resulted in a tie with Joe Montana in Montana’s final season for 15th place in that statistic. However, Favre’s 33 passing touchdowns were second in the NFL that year and the first of five consecutive seasons with 30+ touchdown passes; his completion percentage of 62.4% was sixth in ’94 while also staying true to his eventual career completion percentage of 62.0%. His interception percentage of 2.4% was sixth in the NFL and his second of just five top-ten finishes in that statistic throughout his career, a point I’ll cover in greater detail much later.

The team dropped down to 20th in rushing attempts but improved to 19th, and 15th, in rushing yards and yards per attempt as Favre increased his productivity and led the offense to a massive jump in overall yards, finishing ninth after being 19th in 1993 while going from sixth to fourth in points scored. The offensive line did allow Favre to get sacked one more time than he did in 1993, placing him in a tie with Steve Young for eighth in times sacked and his second finish in the top-ten for most times sacked in a season after ’92, but he lost fewer yards in ’94 than in ’93 and had a 0.3% lower sack percentage. A receiver other than Sterling Sharpe finally caught more than 70 receptions for the first time in Favre’s tenure as the Packers starting quarterback. Sharpe’s 94 receptions weren’t the record-setting 108 and 112 receptions he collected the previous two seasons; however, Sharpe’s 1,119 receiving yards and 18 receiving touchdowns, tying the NFL record at the time, were still by far the best numbers of Favre’s receiving core. Favre’s 90.7 passer rating was second in the NFL and the first of four consecutive seasons with a 90.0+ passer rating; despite all these positives, the team still finished 9-7 for the third straight season, and even more bafflingly, Favre didn’t make the Pro Bowl this year8. Unfortunately, after a neck injury in week 16 was reaggravated in the final week of the ’94 season, Sharpe wouldn’t be available for the fourth-seeded Packers Wild Card matchup at home against the fifth-seeded division rival Detroit Lions. After a gritty 16-12 win over the Lions at home in the Wild Card Round, the ’94 season ended the following week in the Divisional Round, 35-9, against the Dallas Cowboys, and Sharpe would never be available again9, retiring at age 29.

1995 was a turning point for the team despite Sharpe’s early retirement. Favre had a true superstar season, leading the NFL in passing touchdowns with 38, his first of three consecutive seasons to lead the league in that statistic, as well as his first of four passing touchdown titles. He also led the NFL in passing yards for the first of just two times he would accomplish this in his lengthy career, posting his career-high in passing yards in one season with 4,413 passing yards. It was his first of six seasons with 4,000 or more passing yards, but it was also his first season winning the NFL MVP award, which, as stated earlier, all came consecutively. He also won his only NFL Offensive Player of the Year award this season, so let’s examine what else he did to stuff the stat sheet and impress voters in ’95.

He was second in the NFL for yards per attempt, and while he never did lead the league in this statistic, it’s worth noting it was his first of four consecutive seasons finishing in the top ten for this stat. He only matched or outdid his 7.7 passing yards per attempt this season three more times in his career; it’s even more impressive considering his 359 completions and 570 attempts placed him at second and fourth, respectively, in those categories for that season. 1995 was also Favre’s first and only first-place finish at adjusted net yards per pass attempt and his first of three consecutive first-place finishes for passing touchdown percentage. His 63.0 completion percentage was the sixth-highest in the NFL that season, and while his 99.5 passer rating was second to Jim Harbaugh’s conservatively-earned 100.7, statistics like those provided above proved his superior proficiency. It’s also worth noting he tied the record for the longest touchdown pass in NFL history in week two of this season with a 99-yard touchdown pass to Robert Brooks at home against the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football.

After going 6-1 in their final seven games and winning their division for the first time since 1982 with a one-game margin over the Detroit Lions with an 11-5 record, the Packers advanced to the NFC Championship Game. Despite having an 11-5 record, they were the third seed in the NFC due to the 49ers possessing the tie-breaker, but after dispatching Favre’s old team, the Falcons, in the Wild Card Round, 37-20, the Packers overcame the 49ers in the Divisional Round for the first of three consecutive postseason victories over them. However, the Packers fell to the Cowboys for the third straight postseason the following week in the NFC Championship Game. While a much more competitive affair than their previous two meetings, ultimately, the Cowboys leaned on their more complete team to pressure Favre into throwing a fourth-quarter interception and rush for two fourth-quarter touchdowns to secure a 38-27 win. Despite the Cowboys winning their third Super Bowl in four years, this would be the final season of their dynasty, as their ’96 season was the first of just two more 10-win seasons for the decade; the door was open for the burgeoning Packers to emerge as conquerors.

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Ever since the introduction of the salary cap for the 1994 season, the 1996 Packers remain, as of this writing, the only team to win a Super Bowl with the top-ranked offense and defense. It’s worth noting they also had the top-ranked special teams unit. Favre led the NFL in touchdown passes with a career-high 39 and won his second consecutive MVP award behind a stat line of 324 completions (third in the NFL), 543 pass attempts (fifth), 3,899 passing yards (fourth), 59.9 completion percentage (eighth), 7.2 yards per pass attempt (ninth), and a 95.8 passer rating (second). His 13 interceptions did not place him in the top ten for that statistic; his 2.4 interception percentage tied his career-low while placing him second in that statistic for the year, and was the final time he finished top ten in that category until 2009. His 7.2 touchdown pass percentage was a career-high, and with the Packers being the No. 1 seed in the NFC with a 13-3 record, his winning MVP was a no-brainer. The Packers won all three of their postseason games by a comfortable margin, with scores of 35-14, 30-13, and 35-21. While he was the key that kept the offense running all year, Favre did not walk away with the Super Bowl MVP award; Desmond Howard instead became the first special teams player to win the award with a historic performance.

After winning the title, the Packers looked poised to repeat the following season. One ring wouldn’t be enough for such a talented quarterback, and one championship wasn’t enough for such a talented team; this was a budding dynasty. They matched their 13-3 record from the previous season, and while they weren’t top of the league in all three statistics as they were the year prior, Favre still won his third consecutive and final MVP award. However, despite being fourth in completions (304), sixth in pass attempts (513), sixth in completion percentage (59.3%), second in passing yards (3,867), third in yards per pass attempt (7.5), third in passer rating (92.6), and led the league in touchdown passes (35) and total offense (3,878), Favre had to share the award with Barry Sanders. Sanders rushed for 2,053 yards and 11 touchdowns on 6.1 yards per rush attempt to lead the Lions to a 9-7 record and, more impressively, became the second man to rush for 2,000 or more yards in 14 games after O.J. Simpson first achieved it in 1973. It didn’t help that Favre also threw 16 interceptions, finishing third in the NFL; regardless, the Packers overcame the Buccaneers in the Divisional Round and the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game, 21-7 and 23-10, respectively, before heading into Super Bowl XXXII as 11-point favorites against the 13-3 Denver Broncos. I forgive you for potentially living in the moment too much and forgetting they lost a closely contested game to the Broncos; although the loss dampened the mood, they’d surely be back, right?

Returning to the mountaintop wouldn’t be easy, as the 1998 Vikings ended up becoming the highest-scoring offense of all time; still, the sixth-highest scoring offense ever, and went 15-1 by the end of the season. The defense saw four new starters and three players switch positions, with Gilbert Brown and Santana Dotson swapping defensive tackle spots and Tyrone Williams switching to right cornerback from left. Despite some lineup tinkering that resulted in the defense falling out of the top ten in points allowed, finishing 11th, and rumors of Holmgren leaving after the season, the Packers did end up 11-5 with the sixth-ranked offense in points scored and the fourth-ranked defense in yards allowed.

Favre led the NFL in completions, completion percentage, and passing yards but was not as proficient as he had been the previous seasons, tossing over 20 interceptions for the first time since the 1993 season, throwing 23 in ’98. He finished the season tied for 26th place with Kerry Collins in interception percentage at 4.2% but was able to finish tenth in passer rating at 87.8. His 63% completion percentage was not a career-high, even at the time, but it was his only first-place finish in completion percentage for a season. It wildly contributed to his passer rating, but his third-place finish in passing touchdowns with 31 didn’t hurt either. His 7.6 pass yards per attempt were good enough for seventh in the NFL that season, which in tandem with his second-place finish in pass attempts, paints a better picture of a man gunslinging, perhaps against the better wishes of Holmgren and the system he cultivated.

Dorsey Levens, their running back who rushed for over 1,400 yards in ’97, suffered an injury that season, and their rushing attack diminished without him leading the way. He started in four games, and the Packers went from 10th, 12th, and 11th in rush attempts, yards, and yards per attempt to 18th, 25th, and 29th. Their defense, still led by Reggie White in what ended up being his last season as a Packer before a brief retirement and quick comeback in 2000 with the Panthers, was a respectable fourth in yards allowed but did drop out of the top ten in points allowed; 11th. White recorded his personal Packer-high of 16 sacks in a season, collecting his second and final Defensive Player of the Year award, and the Packers finished fourth as a team in sacks. However, while the stingy defense was still exceptional at stuffing the run, they were susceptible to potent passing offenses. They allowed the 17th-highest passer rating amongst all NFL teams, finished in a five-team tie for 21st-place in interceptions recorded and fell just outside the top ten in both passing touchdowns and yards allowed. They did tie for second in pass yards per attempt allowed, first if you factor in their sack yardage, but if they weren’t knocking the opposing quarterback down, they struggled.

With Favre’s regression and the Vikings running roughshod on the NFL, the Packers entered the postseason as the fifth seed and had to travel to Candlestick Park, known as 3Com Park at the time, to take on the fourth-seeded San Francisco 49ers. They had beaten the 49ers in the last three consecutive postseasons and looked to do more of the same in the Wild Card Round this year. However, Steve Young threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Terrell Owens, who dropped numerous passes that game only to come up clutch when it mattered most, with eight seconds left on the clock, effectively ending the Packers’ season. Holmgren, still with a year remaining on his Packers contract, left the Packers and joined the Seattle Seahawks, who promised him complete control over the personnel and coaching decisions; the Packers were given a second-round pick as compensation10. Seattle had done to Green Bay what Green Bay had done to San Francisco seven seasons prior when Holmgren was the 49ers’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Favre himself was surprised that Holmgren would leave but had nothing but gratitude to his former head coach for developing him into the quarterback he had become11. While it took time for the Seahawks to build themselves up, it was equally true the Packers would also need time to rebuild themselves.

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As quickly as the Packers rose, they fell. 1999 was the first and only season for head coach Ray Rhodes, the first year the Packers didn’t make the playoffs in six consecutive seasons, and Favre’s second straight season throwing 23 interceptions. This time, however, he didn’t throw 30 or more touchdowns, the first time in five seasons. He threw more interceptions than touchdowns for the first time since 1993, finishing the year with 22 passing touchdowns; tied for eighth in the league but only 19th in passing touchdown percentage. He led the NFL in pass attempts for the first time in his career with a then career-high of 595 and was second in completions with 341, but his 57.3 completion percentage was good enough for just 20th-place that season. His 74.7 passer rating ranked 25th that season and was the lowest of the eight quarterbacks who started 16 games.

However, while their defense regressed to 20th and 19th in points and yards allowed, they did leap to third in turnovers recorded. They did possess consistency, only bringing in three new defensive starters, while Antonio Freeman had the last 1,000-yard receiving season of his career on offense. Levens returned from injury, unable to replicate his prior success, but their key players did enough to at least finish with an 8-8 record. Despite their offense ranking tenth and ninth in points and yards and the team putting together a three-game winning streak from weeks 11 to 13, they also put together two three-game losing streaks throughout the season, including a 27-17 loss to Holmgren’s Seahawks in week eight. Favre was critical of his injury-riddled season12, suffering a broken right thumb in training camp, and was not impressed with his performance that year.

The Packers received a reprieve the following season as they secured Holmgren’s offensive coordinator in Seattle, Mike Sherman, to be their new head coach. Installing a new system, Favre’s yards per pass attempt dipped even further in 2000, going from 6.9, tied for 13th in ’99, to 6.6, tied for 20th in 2000. Despite Favre posting a 78.0 passer rating, throwing 16 interceptions to just 20 touchdowns, and throwing 279 fewer yards on 15 fewer attempts, falling from fourth in passing yards in ’99 (4,091) to fifth in 2000, the Packers finished with a winning record at 9-7. Favre compiled stats, finishing third in completions (338), second in pass attempts (580), the just mentioned fifth in passing yards (3,812), and tied for tenth in passing touchdowns, but was 20th in completion percentage (58.3%), tied for seventh in interceptions thrown, and tied for 24th in touchdown percentage. He was marginally better than in 1999, and he suffered a broken thumb that year, causing all to wonder if his efficiency was slipping.

However, there might be truth to Favre simply suffering from lingering injuries13 in 2000 and adjusting to another new system, as he rebounded strongly in 2001. His 15 interceptions ranked 13th that season and his interception percentage was 14th of 30 qualifying quarterbacks, but his 32 passing touchdowns tied for second that season. His 510 pass attempts ranked 12th, but his 314 completions were good enough for a seventh-place finish that season. Favre displayed more gunslinging proficiency in his second season in Sherman’s system, finishing seventh in the NFL with a 61.6 completion percentage, while his 7.7 yards per pass attempt ranked fourth. His 3,921 passing yards ranked third; adding all that up results in a 94.1 passer rating, fourth in the league.

The overall offense had improved from 11th in points scored and 15th in offensive yards in 2000 to fifth in points scored and sixth offensive yards in 2001. The defense had also improved from Sherman’s first season, as they finished 14th in points allowed and 15th in yards allowed in 2000, jumping to sixth in points allowed and slightly improving to 12th in yards allowed in ’01. Interestingly enough, however, while they improved their passing defense numbers in 2001, they wound up regressing from allowing 3.9 yards per rush, ninth in ’00, to 4.4 in ’01, 22nd in the NFL. The Chicago Bears won the NFC Central that season, in the final season of the old NFL divisional alignment, finishing with a 13-3 record. While a winning record of 9-7 wasn’t good enough to qualify for the postseason in 2000, the Packers had improved to 12-4 in 2001, awarding them the fourth seed in the playoffs.

Fifth-seeded San Francisco, also sporting a 12-4 record, traveled to frigid Lambeau Field for their January 13th, 2002 Wild Card showdown. The 49ers, in the same division as the Greatest Show on Turf, had made quick strides in improving their offense after finishing 22nd in points scored in 1999, the same season the St. Louis Rams won the Super Bowl. 49ers quarterback Jeff Garcia was the one who tied Favre with 32 touchdowns that season but threw three fewer interceptions and finished ranked higher in completions, completion percentage, and passer rating. He wasn’t as productive in passing yards and yards per attempt while throwing more passes than Favre that season, but the 49ers led 7-6 at halftime of their Wild Card matchup. The Packers showed life in the second half, scoring two touchdowns and recording two field goals while keeping the 49ers’ offense to one fourth-quarter touchdown for a 25-15 victory. It was the Packers’ fourth victory in five meetings against the 49ers in the playoffs since 1995, and as of this writing, it remains the last time the Packers triumphed over the 49ers in the postseason.

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Favre finished third in MVP voting for the 2001 NFL season, but after victory in the Wild Card Round, they had to travel to the Edward Jones Dome to take on the St. Louis Rams and newly crowned MVP Kurt Warner in the Divisional Round. Warner’s running back, Marshall Faulk, finished second in MVP voting, so the 45-17 final score in the Rams’ win shouldn’t be a complete surprise. Had Favre not thrown six interceptions14, three of which got returned for touchdowns, the final score would likely have been closer, but two other Packers lost fumbles during the game as well and came away with only three scoring drives out of 17 as a unit. His 53.5 passer rating for the game was dreadful, and the offense was out of sync as a result, but it was only their second season in Sherman’s system; they could bounce back stronger next season.

Some cite 2002 as a lost ring due to the talented 12-4 Packers losing for the first time at Lambeau Field in the playoffs to the 9-6-1 Atlanta Falcons. Their record suggested they would go further than the Wild Card Round, but dissecting why they fell so early on in the postseason reveals they were not as dangerous as their record implied. They were 6th in points scored and 12th in points allowed but 12th in yards, 17th in pass yards per attempt, and second-worst in rush yards per attempt allowed. They beat up on their weak newly-created division, the NFC North, finishing the year with a 5-1 record against their division foes. Their only loss in their divisional games came against the team with the most rushing yards, rushing yards per attempt, and tied with the most rushing touchdowns in 2002; the Minnesota Vikings.

While the Vikings were second-best in the inaugural season of the NFC North with a paltry 6-10 record, they did confirm to the rest of the league what the game plan for beating the Packers was. The New Orleans Saints beat the Packers 35-20 in week two behind 146 rushing yards, and the Vikings won 31-21 in week 11 behind 218 rushing yards; in between then, however, the Packers put together a seven-game winning streak. This stretch included a game against the defending champion New England Patriots; however, while two teams finished 9-7, none of the teams they played during that winning streak made the playoffs. The Falcons, fourth-best in rushing yardage and rushing touchdowns and ninth in rush yards per attempt, lost in overtime of week one to the Packers after putting up 178 rushing yards and 34 points on them in regulation; then ran all over the Packers in the Wild Card Round to the tune of 192 rushing yards. The Packers did not excel in any one area, preferring their balance to be greater than the sum of their parts, so when they got gashed by big runs, when they failed to generate turnovers, they were not able to win games.

Favre, for his part, played his role well, finishing second in MVP voting behind a stat line of 341 completions, 551 pass attempts, a 61.9 completion percentage, 3,658 passing yards, 6.6 pass yards per attempt, 27 passing touchdowns, 16 interceptions, and an 85.6 passer rating. He ranked fifth in completions and attempts, eighth in passing yards, and second in passing touchdowns. However, his 61.9 completion percentage and 85.6 passer rating were only 11th in both categories that season, while his yards per pass attempt ranked only 21st out of 32 qualifying quarterbacks. Despite the Packers making great strides in further improving their ability to run the ball, they had no top ten finishes in any major rushing statistic. While the team had a better-ranked finish in rushing yards and rush yards per attempt over the next two years and finished better in rushing touchdowns the following season, the Packers never won this many regular-season games under Sherman’s run-first system again.

2003 could also be considered a lost ring, but less so since the title picture wasn’t as wide open as the year prior. Four teams in the AFC won more games than last season’s top-seeded AFC team, and while the Packers finished as the third seed in ’02, the two teams above them had identical records. In contrast, the ’03 Packers going 10-6 meant they had matching records to the two NFC wild card teams. While they did overcome the Seattle Seahawks at home in the Wild Card Round, due to cornerback Al Harris recording a game-winning pick-six on the first offensive play in overtime, they fell to the Philadelphia Eagles in the Divisional Round. It’s fair to say Favre’s boneheaded interception in overtime was the nail in the Packers’ coffin that game; it also should have never gone to overtime as the defense allowed the Eagles to convert on a fourth-and-26 late in the fourth quarter.

During the regular season, leading up to that playoff loss, Favre had put together his sixth career 90.0+ passer rating season. His 90.4 passer rating was sixth in the NFL in ’03, while his 65.4 completion percentage ranked second. He didn’t accumulate much yardage through the air, ranking 11th with 3,361, but his 7.1 yards per pass attempt were good for a tenth-place finish amongst 32 quarterbacks in that category. Favre led the NFL in passing touchdowns for the fourth and final time of his career with his seventh 30+ passing touchdown season of 32, but it did come along with the third-most interceptions that season as well; 21, his fourth season with at least 20 interceptions thrown. He attempted only 471 passes that season, the first time Favre attempted less than 500 passes in a season since 1992, placing him 14th in ’03. Despite him finishing 30th out of 32 qualifying quarterbacks in interception percentage, with the two below him throwing less than 300 passes that season, his touchdown percentage was .8% higher than the second-place finisher that season, Steve McNair, at 6.8%; his 308 completions ranked ninth in that statistic. Examining his numbers this way paints a better picture of a 34-year-old veteran quarterback playing more of a game-manager role, deferring to the run game to take the pressure off himself and focus on making each pass a potential game-changing one.

Which turned out fine for Favre since the 2003 Green Bay Packers finished fifth in rushing attempts, third in rushing yards, fifth in rushing touchdowns, and second in rush yards per attempt, contributing mightily to their fourth-ranked offense in both points scored and offensive yardage. Ahman Green’s 1,883 rushing yards were second behind Jamal Lewis’ ridiculous 2,066 rush yard season, but Green tied Lewis and LaDanian Tomlinson at fourth in the NFL for rush yards per attempt with 5.3. Green was second in rushing touchdowns with 15 and was third and fourth in yards from scrimmage and all-purpose yards, respectively. Their defense stagnated, finishing 11th in points allowed but 17th in yards allowed. Their rush defense was sixth in rush attempts, 10th in yards allowed, and sixth in touchdowns allowed, but just average, 16th in yards per rush attempt allowed. While their pass defense was good and denying touchdowns and collecting interceptions, ranking in the top ten in both, they were susceptible to allowing teams to pass all over them, finishing 23rd in pass yards allowed and 31st in attempts allowed.

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The Packers were a well-coached team with flaws that became exposed in the worst way by a better team in the postseason, just like the previous season. 2004 followed similarly, although the defense regressed to 23rd in points allowed and 25th in yards allowed. The Packers finished 10-6 once again and won the division for the third consecutive season but had to battle with the division rival and sixth-seeded Minnesota Vikings in the Wild Card Round.

Before we get to that game, it’s worth pointing out Favre had a more proficient regular season campaign in 2004. His 4,088 passing yards, his fourth 4,000+ passing yard season, were fifth in the NFL, while his 30 touchdowns were fourth. He cleaned up his interceptions, which sounds illogical when he still was tied for fifth in the NFL with 17, but he decreased his interception percentage to 3.1%, tied for 18th out of 33 qualifying quarterbacks. He finished fifth in pass attempts (540), third in completions (346), ninth in completion percentage (64.1%), tenth in passer rating (92.4), and 11th in yards per pass attempt (7.6). He was also first in sack percentage for the only time in his career, so the line did a great job keeping him upright and allowing him to compile those statistics.

Favre’s ’04 campaign was necessary as the Packers’ rushing attack wasn’t as potent as the season prior. They dropped to 26th in rushing touchdowns, 12th in rush yards per attempt, and 16th in rushing attempts, but they were tenth in yards. Aside from ranking 27th in yards per rush attempt allowed, their rush defense was still respectable. However, their pass defense was dead last in passing touchdowns allowed, second-to-last in interceptions recorded, and 25th in passing yards allowed. The Packers started slowly at 1-4 before going on a six-game winning streak before falling to the Philadelphia Eagles once more in week 13. They won three of their last four games after that, which included their second win over the Vikings that season, completing the sweep.

Or so they thought, as the Packers hosted the Vikings in the Wild Card Round and lost 31-17. It was the first playoff meeting between these two teams, and Favre shits the bed, to put it simply. He threw four interceptions, two of which led to two field goals by the Vikings, and threw only one touchdown. The Vikings jumped out to a 17-3 first-quarter lead, and even though the Packers slowly gained momentum with their running game to make it a 24-17 score game with 13 minutes left in regulation, they never were able to snatch luck in their favor. Randy Moss caught two touchdowns, including the one that sealed the 31-17 score two minutes after the Packers made it a one-score game where he famously feigned mooning the crowd during his touchdown celebration. Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper threw four touchdowns, no interceptions, and 284 passing yards on 29 attempts. His 19 completions were good enough to secure Culpepper a 137.1 passer rating for the game, contrasting heavily with Favre’s 55.4 passer rating.

2005 was Sherman’s last year as Packers head coach, and the first of several upcoming seasons focused on the drama surrounding Favre’s retirement. Packers management drafted his eventual replacement in the first round before the season and likely accelerated potential tension between the two sides. However, Favre shoulders some blame as well. Despite statements he made during this season and the next few years to come indicating he was heavily considering retirement, his refusal to commit to retirement created even more tension between the two sides that eventually resulted in a messy public spectacle.

His 372 completions, as stated earlier, led the league and were the most he recorded in a single season for his career. His 607 pass attempts, his first 600+ pass attempt season, also was first in the league, but unfortunately, so were his career-high 29 interceptions. It was the second time he led the NFL in completions and pass attempts, but also the second time he led the NFL in interceptions thrown. Adding insult to injury, he was dead last in interception percentage for, surprisingly, the first time in his career, at 4.8%.

Favre did have 20 passing touchdowns, placing him in a tie with Kerry Collins for tenth place in that category on the season; however, his 70.9 passer rating was the second-lowest of his career (career-worst at the time) and placed him 31st out of 34 qualifying quarterbacks. It’s worth noting that J.P. Losman, 33rd, started in only eight games, while Aaron Brooks, 32nd, and Kyle Orton, 34th, who started in 13 and 15 games, respectively, both threw less than 435 pass attempts all season. His 3,882 passing yards were third in the NFL that year, but his passing yards per game and passing yards per attempt were just seventh and tied for 24th that season, respectively. He got sacked only 24 times, placing him 20th in the NFL, and third in sack percentage, so you can’t blame his offensive line for his 61.3 completion percentage only being good enough to finish 13th in completion percentage that season. The reality was the Packers were bottoming out and heading for a rebuild, and Favre turned 36 during the season and was coming off his worst season ever; how much longer could the Packers afford to keep him around?

An injury to Ahman Green and three new starters on the offensive line slowed the run game and provided Favre with the worst run support of his entire career, but the receiving core was still solid, and the offensive line kept him upright. The Packers’ 4-12 record was the first time Favre posted a losing quarterback record and the only full 16-game losing season of his career, only further adding fuel to the questions of his retirement or when Aaron Rodgers would take over as the starting quarterback. Favre announced that he would be returning on April 26th, 2006, before the 2006-07 season began, but only played marginally better on a team that reloaded on talent in the draft and free agency.

The team brought in ten new starters and saw Ahman Green return from injury. While they did bring in some considerable talent, it was also their first season together under new head coach Mike McCarthy; a lack of chemistry kills the ambitions of a talented team. Ahman Green, while rushing for over 1,000 yards for the sixth and final time of his career, wasn’t up to his standard this season, rushing for only 4.0 (3.98 yards if you want to be more precise) yards per rush and just crossing the 1,000-yard threshold in the final game of the season; finishing with 1,059 rushing yards. The Packers continued being a weak rushing team, finishing 23rd in both rushing yards and rushing touchdowns, as well as 21st in both rushing yards per attempt and rushing attempts, relying on a 37-year-old Favre to lead the league in passing attempts once more. While he simultaneously led the NFL in pass attempts for the third and final time and set his career-high in pass attempts with 613 pass attempts, he finished just fifth in completions with 343. His completion percentage of 55.95% was the career-worst outside of his 1991 season with the Falcons when he completed zero passes out of four attempts; hardly a fair comparison. Even that qualifier can’t excuse his completion percentage ranking 26th out of 32 qualifying quarterbacks, compounding that further is that of the quarterback below him; Rex Grossman was the closest in terms of pass attempts, with 480 compared to Favre’s league-leading 613.

Favre did finish sixth in passing yards with 3,885 but did not make the top ten in passing touchdowns, finishing in a four-way tie for 13th place with 18 passing touchdowns. His 6.3 yards per pass attempt ranked 23rd that season and tied his career-low 1993 season in that statistic. He was 25th out of 32 qualifying quarterbacks in passer rating with a 72.7, and once again, despite him being well-protected, ranking 22nd in sacks with just 21 recorded against him all season, and being fourth in sack percentage. The team leaned on their run game and defense to scrape by and put together a four-game winning streak to end the season at 8-8, gelling as a unit in the process; Favre had already played his best stretch of football months prior. The Packers ended the season thrashing the eventual Super Bowl runner-up, the Chicago Bears, at the Bears’ home stadium; Favre gave an emotional interview after the game, admitting he wasn’t sure if he had played his last game or not.

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He hadn’t, as he announced15 he would return as the starting quarterback for the 2007 season on February 2nd, 2007. Favre himself stated the team ended 8-8, and it excited him to try and improve on that and see how far this talented team could go; hard to argue against the logic. In 2006, the team brought in ten new starters, had Ahman Green return from injury, and moved Scott Wells to center. The 2007 Packers brought in just four new starters and swapped Corey Williams and Ryan Pickett at the defensive tackle positions, creating better cohesion in McCarthy’s second year as head coach. While two of the four new players starting were Ryan Grant at halfback and Korey Hall at fullback, and despite the 2007 Packers dropping to 28th in rushing attempts with 43 fewer than the previous season, they improved to 21st in rushing yards, 13th in rushing touchdowns, and 12th in rush yards per attempt.

2007 was the final season Favre played in Green Bay, and he went out in quintessential Favre fashion. He finished the season ranked fourth in completions (356), sixth in attempts (535), fourth in passing yards (4,155), fourth in completion percentage (66.5%), third in yards per attempt (7.8), sixth in passing touchdowns (28), and ninth in interceptions (15), making his 95.7 passer rating good for sixth in the NFL. After finishing second in MVP voting and having his best regular season for the Packers in the 2000s, he threw a game-clinching interception in the NFC Championship Game to set up Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes with a game-winning 47-yard field goal four plays later. The Giants went on to win Super Bowl XLII 14 days later in a historic upset over the 18-0 New England Patriots. Meanwhile, Favre announced his tearful retirement 44 days after his last pass as a player for the Green Bay Packers wound up being an interception16.

Complicating the transition to Aaron Rodgers as the starting quarterback was an offseason filled with the drama17 surrounding Favre announcing he was coming out of retirement and the Packers front office’s unwillingness to revert their decision on Rodgers as the starter. Favre requested a release before even being reinstated; the Packers filed tampering charges against the Minnesota Vikings18; commissioner Roger Goodell forced Favre and the Packers to meet and talk things over during his first day at training camp. Favre was eventually traded to New York19, immediately becoming the Jets’ starting quarterback.

In what proved to be Eric Mangini’s second and final season as head coach of the New York Jets, Favre’s early start to the 2008 season seemed promising but flamed out miserably. He wasn’t playing spectacularly at times, but he was efficient enough to have a 95.1 passer rating through week 11 and had the Jets at 8-3. Favre eventually suffered a torn biceps tendon and played poorly down the stretch, although he had steadily regressed during December every year since the 2005 season anyway. His passer rating for the season of 81.0, 21st out of 32 qualifying quarterbacks, indicates a massive drop-off; but somewhat masks his final stat line of 343 completions, 522 attempts, a 65.3 completion percentage, 3,472 passing yards, 22 touchdowns, 22 interceptions, and 6.7 yards per attempt. He led the NFL in interceptions thrown for the third and final time of his career but also led the NFL in pick sixes thrown for the second and final time of his career, 15 seasons after he had last done it.

While Favre ranked sixth in completions, eighth in pass attempts, fifth in completion percentage, and ninth in passing touchdowns, he was only 22nd out of 32 qualifying quarterbacks for yards per pass attempt. He did finish 11th in passing yards but, remarkably, second-to-last in interception percentage. Vikings quarterback Gus Frerotte was intercepted 15 times on 301 attempts, giving him the last-place finish at 5% compared to Favre’s 4.2%; maybe there was more to those early talks with Childress and his coaching staff after all. After the Jets lost four of their last five games to fall to 9-7 and miss the playoffs, Favre retired again20 in February 2009, only to come out of retirement that summer once the Jets cut him from their roster. The team he got surgery21 on his shoulder for and was determined to be the starting quarterback? None other than the Minnesota Vikings22; the “silver fox” found a way.

The 2008 Minnesota Vikings won the NFC North with a 10-6 record behind Adrian Peterson’s league-leading rushing yardage, but they had a stingy defense to compliment their run game. Adding Favre to the mix was enough to give them +1600 odds to win the Super Bowl over their +1700 odds in 2008, and although he let it slip the Jets knew about his injured condition23, he maintained it would not affect his playing ability with the Vikings. The 2009 Minnesota Vikings won the NFC North with a 12-4 record, and the now 40-year-old Favre put forth the best statistical regular season of his career. He was fourth in completions (363), eighth in pass attempts (531), third in completion percentage (68.4%), ninth in passing yards (4,202), tied Peyton Manning for second in passing touchdowns (33) and tied for eighth in yards per pass attempt with a career-high 7.9. Favre threw only seven interceptions all season and even tied Aaron Rodgers, ironically, for the lowest interception percentage in the NFL that season at 1.3%, by far the lowest interception percentage of his career.

Unfortunately, the story doesn’t have a happy ending. Favre got beat up by the eventual Super Bowl champion Saints defense in the NFC Championship Game, where he threw the deciding interception late in the fourth quarter to give the Saints an opportunity in overtime. The Saints won the coin toss, drove down the field, and kicked the game-winning field goal to secure their trip to the Super Bowl. After a long offseason where Favre was unsure if he’d return, the Vikings sent three players down to his house in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, during training camp to convince him to return. He officially announced he would return for one last season24 on August 17th, 2010, but the magic had evaporated during the offseason. Favre threw his 500th touchdown pass and accumulated over 70,000 career passing yards in this final season with the Vikings but followed up the best statistical season of his lengthy career with the worst. He started in only 13 games, had a 5-8 record, and finished the season with a 69.9 passer rating, while the only statistical categories he finished in the top ten for were interceptions thrown and pick sixes thrown.

His final stat line for 2010 was 217 completions, 358 pass attempts, a 60.6 completion percentage, 2,509 passing yards, 11 touchdowns, 19 interceptions, and 7.0 yards per pass attempt. He was 29th of 31 qualifying quarterbacks for passer rating and had his 297 consecutive start streak snapped after a week 12 win against the Buffalo Bills. He came back for one last game in week 14 against the Chicago Bears but left the game after being flattened into the cold TCF Bank Stadium turf and receiving a concussion during the 14-40 loss. The Vikings finished a disappointing 6-10 on the season and watched as the Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl that year behind Aaron Rodgers’ incredible play. Twenty days before the Packers’ Super Bowl victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, Favre filed retirement papers25 for the third and final time, as he’s remained retired following that January 17th, 2011 decision.

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What to make of this lengthy, Hall of Fame career, then? Favre was undeniably a tremendous talent and provided plenty of exciting moments and talking points throughout his career. He entered the NFL’s rehabilitation program for painkiller pill abuse and went to rehab26 for 46 days in 1996 before returning to the Packers and leading them to their first title since 1967. The day after his father died, Favre lit up the Raiders on Monday Night Football for 399 passing yards and four touchdowns, and his retirement saga is worthy of a Hollywood biopic. Setting all the hype aside, how proficient was Favre? As of this writing, he still holds the record for most consecutive postseason games with at least one touchdown pass with 20, so writing him off as a stat compiler is unfair. However, his 336 career regular season interceptions are 59 more than second-place George Blanda, meaning there is a certain threshold for his productivity.

Of the 25 quarterbacks thus far to play in at least 200 games, Favre has the 14th-highest interception percentage, is tied for 12th in touchdown percentage, has the tenth-highest passing yards per game, and has the ninth-highest passer rating. He’s tied for 17th amongst those 25 quarterbacks in career yards per pass attempt, so what gives? It’s important to remember that growing up, Favre quarterbacked a high school team that relied heavily on their running game, and I don’t think that aspect of his overall game ever left him. He never quite had the rush support needed to take pressure off him and allow him to make those spectacular throws he’s remembered for; unlike most elite quarterbacks who make do without one, it likely led to higher turnover numbers for Favre. The Packers were tied with six other franchises for sixth-worst yards per rush attempt from 1992 to 1999 and topped out at tied for tenth in the same category from 2000 to 2007, despite Sherman favoring the run and Ahman Green becoming the all-time Packers rush yards leader during that time.

Although he played more proficiently without a stout running game during his peak years in the 90s, by the time he reached his 30s and the NFL began changing27 to accommodate higher scoring numbers, Favre needed that additional run support. The inflation of passing statistics allowed quarterbacks to display prettier numbers in the box score, but the gunslinger still threw interceptions at a higher rate than most starters28 by the mid-to-late 2000s. It’s worth noting Favre’s only Super Bowl win was when he had the number one ranked defense in points and yards allowed, further suggesting he needed a dynamic team around him to better use his talents. Of course, even the elite quarterbacks need a good team around them to make deep postseason runs, but the Packers did supply Favre with defenses that had seven top ten finishes in points allowed throughout his tenure with the team. The Packers also had two more 11th-ranked finishes and a 12th-ranked finish in that same category, while the Vikings also ranked 10th in points allowed in 2009; how much defensive help does one elite quarterback need?

Nostalgic fans may look back on Favre’s six career 4,000+ passing yardage seasons and nine career 30+ passing touchdown seasons fondly but forget that his career 237.9 yards per game average equals out to 3,806 passing yards in a 16-game season. That’s not bad, and he’d likely average more had he started playing professional football in 2001 instead of 1991, but 3,806 passing yards for a season are hardly league-leading numbers even by 90s football standards. Still, that brief three-year peak from ’95 to ’97 was incredible; three consecutive first-team All-Pro selections and three consecutive MVP awards. He did record eleven Pro Bowl selections, but his three second-team All-Pro appearances came in 2001, 2002, and 2007; never was Favre viewed as the best quarterback in the league after ’97. Despite that, it’s still hard to say Favre underachieved when he recorded the fifth-highest MVP shares for a career and possessed the fifth-highest passer rating of all time after his first decade of professional football. That career passer rating of 86.0 has fallen to tied for the 42nd-highest of all time currently; not nearly as impressive, but it speaks volumes of the NFL’s hyper-focused effort29 for quarterbacks to decrease interceptions and maintain a high passer rating over the last decade.

The passing game now is down to a sweet science. Favre made plays that future quarterbacks could look at and remember not to try, especially in high-pressure situations, but also inspired future quarterbacks capable of making spectacular plays to do so when necessary. Multiple quarterbacks have since surpassed Favre’s passing records, but those quarterbacks may never match him in the sheer excitement factor he brought along with him. For better or worse, his legacy as the gunslinger remains intact. Perhaps it’s best then that he’s remembered the way he preferred30, not as a quarterback but as a football player.

Editor’s Notes

  1. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – 9/10/2005 – RAISED ON GRIT
  2. Sports Illustrated – 1/21/2002 – Brett Favre Timeline
  3. Spotrac – Brett Favre Contract Breakdown
  4. The Atlanta Journal Constitution – 11/19/2015 – Jerry Glanville, Brett Favre ‘didn’t see eye to eye on things’
  5. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – 1/12/1992 – Ron Wolf gets the man he wants, at a price
  6. The Sports Notebook – 1992 Green Bay Packers: The Favre Era Begins
  7. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – 4/7/1993 – 17 million reasons convince Reggie White
  8. Orlando Sentinel – 12/22/1994 – FAVRE CUTS MISTAKES, CLIMBS NFL’s QB LADDER
  9. Sportscasting – 6/15/2020 – Sterling Sharpe’s Promising Career Abruptly Ended in Tragic Fashion
  10. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – 1/9/1999 – Power, money lure Mike Holmgren away
  11. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – 11/12/2005 – Holmgren leaves for Seattle after ’98 season
  12. ESPN – 12/26/1999 – Favre gives his season a thumbs-down
  13. CBC News – 9/10/2001 – Healthy Favre in MVP form
  14. The Journal Times – 1/20/2002 – Favre throws six interceptions
  15. NFL.com/Green Bay Packers – 2/2/2007 – Favre to return for 17th season
  16. ESPN – 4/4/2008 – ‘Mentally tired’ Favre tells Packers his playing career is over
  17. ESPN – 7/11/2008 – Favre seeks unconditional release from Packers, sources say
  18. The Seattle Times – 8/5/2008 – NFL commissioner rules in Vikings’ favor on Favre tampering charge
  19. PackersNews.com/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – 8/7/2008 – Packers Trade Brett Favre to Jets
  20. The New York Times – 2/11/2009 – No Tears This Time, Favre Says So Long
  21. ESPN – 7/7/2009 – Sources: Favre has surgery
  22. The Guardian – 8/19/2009 – Brett Favre scraps retirement – again – to return for Minnesota Vikings
  23. ESPN – 9/10/2009 – NFL looking at possible violation
  24. SB Nation – 8/17/2010 – Brett Favre Reportedly Returning to Minnesota to Rejoin Vikings
  25. Pro Football Talk/NBC Sports – 1/17/2011 – Brett Favre files retirement papers
  26. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – 10/22/2005 – Drug abuse rocks his world
  27. Bleacher Report – 7/9/2013 – How NFL Offenses Have Transformed over the Past Decade
  28. Sports Illustrated – 10/2/2019 – The Ceclining Interception Rate in the NFL
  29. Narcissistic Penguin – 6/19/2019 – The Inflation of Passing Stats
  30. Youtube/Analog Indulgence – Brett Favre | Nike | Television Commercial | 1997

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