Despite what the horrible titular pun would make you believe, there is something legitimate and substance-filled in the coming paragraphs. He spent a season in New York. He ended his career with the hated Minnesota Vikings. He spend 16 seasons with the Green Bay Packers. One of the last three sentences carries much more weight than the others (hint: it’s the last one). Despite how everything ended, Brett Favre will always be a Packer, and fans of the green and gold should be thankful for everything he did for Green Bay. I am intentionally going to ignore certain aspects of his personal life, things that are still joked about and shed him in a somewhat unfair light, because those frankly are not that important as we remember the history of #4 and the Green Bay Packers. Whether those things are important or not is up to, but for the purposes of this post, they are not overly important aspects of the Brett Favre story.
From the 1967 season, when the Packers won Super Bowl II, through the 1992 season, the Green Bay Packers made the playoffs two times. Brett Favre took over the helm for Green Bay as the starting quarterback, replacing Don Majkowski, in Week 4 of 1992. The next game that he didn’t start for the green and gold was Week 1 of 2008, when Aaron Rodgers took over (a pretty good successor in his own right, no?). That’s right, Brett Favre started 253 straight games as the quarterback for Green Bay. Through a broken thumb, a sprained ankle, elbow tendinitis, fits of coughing up blood and God only knows how many concussions, he started 253 straight games in a row. That alone is simply amazing. Not only that, but he was unbelievable during that run. He became the first person to win three consecutive MVP awards, winning each year from 1995 through 1997. For the latter two years of that stretch, he led the Packers to two Super Bowls, winning Super Bowl XXXI over the New England Patriots (and, unfortunately, losing Super Bowl XXXII to John Elway and the Denver Broncos). He holds nearly every Packers passing record and frankly put, is the savior of the Green Bay Packers franchise. He had some great players around him, such as Sterling Sharpe, Ahman Green, Donald Driver, etc. but he was the focal point of the Packers for 16 years and was the catalyst for the re-emergence of Green Bay as one of the NFL’s marquee franchises.
Unfortunately, records and history is not the be all and end all, because the way things ended between Brett Favre and the Packers organization is well-documented and realistically, sad. To make a long story short, Brett retired, the Packers passed the reigns to the team over to Aaron Rodgers. Favre wanted to come back, his relationship with the team deteriorated beyond repair, a media circus ensued and eventually he was shipped to the New York Jets. After one tumultuous season with the Jets, one which saw a late-season collapse in which Favre threw for just two touchdowns over five games, Brett Favre really stuck a knife in the Packers’ backs and joined the Minnesota Vikings. There had been alleged talks between Favre and the Vikings before he went to New York, and now it was official. The thing that stung the most as a Packers fan was not just that Favre was a Viking (which in itself made me sick at the time), but rather the fact that he had one of, if not the, best season of his career in 2009 with Minnesota. He had his fourth highest number of touchdowns in one season, lowest number of interceptions and his best passer rating by a wide margin. He nearly led Minnesota to the Super Bowl. The grizzled veteran, the man who had started every single game he had played in since early in the 1992 season, the hero turned villain, got his team to the NFC Championship game against the New Orleans Saints. In that game, Favre took one of the worst beatings of his entire career. He was hobbled, he limped all over the field but the gunslinger wouldn’t quit. Then he threw an interception. A throw back across the field that was intercepted. New Orleans went on to score, winning the NFC and eventually the Super Bowl. Packers fans had flashbacks to 2007, when Brett Favre threw an interception in overtime of the NFC Championship Game against the eventual Super Bowl Champion New York Giants, his final pass with the Green Bay Packers. That game was truly the beginning of the end for Favre. In 2010 he declined greatly. 11 touchdowns and 19 interceptions in 13 starts. He started the first 12 games of the season before being benched for their 13th game, ending the greatest Iron Man streak in NFL history. 297 straight games started, coming to a disappointing end for #4. He would start one more game before being concussed against his longtime rivals, the Chicago Bears, effectively ending his career.
I grew up loving Brett Favre. He wasn’t just my favorite player, he was my hero. Nobody was as exciting as Brett Favre. He’d make your heart race like crazy. Nobody could toy with your emotions while watching a game like Brett Favre could. He would throw balls into unbelievably tight coverage, creating deafening cheers when it went right and painful sighs when it all went wrong. He was the gunslinger. He threw more touchdowns than anyone else has in NFL history, but then again he’s also thrown the most interceptions. He has boatloads of records, but how much of that matters to Packers fans? He has the iron man streak, but it ended in Minnesota. He has the passing yards record, but some of his biggest milestones came in Minnesota (throwing for his 70,000 yard, for example). He has the touchdown passes record, but he broke Dan Marino’s record with a touchdown in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, not Lambeau Field. How much does everything matter anymore to Packers fans, considering how it all ended?
Let me put it this way: if you don’t think any of it matters, you’re missing the picture. At this point in time, Brett Favre is the greatest player in the history of the Green Bay Packers. That’s a history that includes Don Hutson, Bart Starr, Ray Nitschke, Reggie White, Paul Hornung, etc. Favre is the best. As I said before, he was the catalyst for the revival of the Packers as a competitive franchise. Did he finish off a lot of those records in Minnesota? Yes he did. The bulk of the numbers came with Green Bay though, don’t forget that. That man left his heart and soul on the field every single game. He did everything he could to win for Green Bay. He was as wild as can be sometimes but he brought incredible success to the frozen tundra. It hurt when he left but it is time to bury the hatchet. When my hero left down, I was upset. That’s actually a ridiculous understatement. Nonetheless, We had to trudge on as fans, and you know what? We’ve done fine without #4. We have the best quarterback in the league in Green Bay and have a Super Bowl victory since he took over. It sucks that Brett Favre went to a hated rival, but now that the Packers have had success and Favre has moved out of the spotlight, it’s time to make amends and retire his jersey. He brought Green Bay a ton of success and it is time that we as fans, and the Packers as an organization, honor him for the great player he was. When I went to my first Packers game, last season against Pittsburgh, I saw five retired numbers in Lambeau Field, and I can’t tell you how excited I am that next time I get to a Packers game, there will be a sixth number, the number 4.