Brett Favre: The Road to Canton

Brett in Super Bowl XXXI

On August 6, Brett Favre will be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Not too many people thought that this honor would ever be bestowed on Favre, as he started his NFL career with the Atlanta Falcons in 1991 very inauspiciously.

After being drafted in the second round out of Southern Mississippi, Favre’s rookie season with the Dirty Birds was sort of a disaster.

Favre hardly ever played. Part of the reason was because Favre was a party animal who stayed out late and also occasionally dozed off in meetings. Add to that, Favre also missed the team photo after a late night out.

When he did get to play, Favre attempted only four passes, without a completion. Actually, Favre did complete two passes, but both were to the opposition.

During the 1991 NFL draft, Ron Wolf was personnel director for the New York Jets. Wolf was intrigued by the strong-armed Favre in college, as he led the Golden Eagles to 29 wins as a starter, which included two bowl victories. Southern Miss also upset staunch opponents like Florida State and Alabama with Favre under center.

While Wolf was scouting Favre, No. 4 helped himself by being the MVP of the East-West Shrine game. Wolf was set to take Favre in the 1991 draft for the Jets with the 34th selection in the second round, when the Atlanta Falcons took him instead with the 33rd pick.

But when Wolf became the general manager of the Packers late in the 1991 season, he kept his eye on Favre. Then in February of 1992, Wolf shocked a number of people in the NFL, when he traded a first-round pick to the Falcons for Favre. Before he made that trade, he asked one of the people on his scouting staff to evaluate Favre on film.

That person was Ted Thompson and the future general manager of the Packers endorsed making the trade.

Wolf had also just recently hired Mike Holmgren as head coach. Holmgren had done an exceptional job as quarterbacks coach/offensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers, working with both Joe Montana and Steve Young. Wolf saw similar possibilities with Holmgren working with Favre.

The Packers already had a starting quarterback in Don Majkowski, who had been to the Pro Bowl just a couple years earlier.

The career of Favre with the Packers got off to an ominous start, when he came into the game in relief of Majkowski after the “Magic Man” severely sprained an ankle in the third game of the 1992 season versus the Cincinnati Bengals.

Favre was anything but impressive when he entered the game, as he tried to lead the Packers to their first win of the season after a 0-2 start. No. 4 was having all sorts of problems initially, as he fumbled four times. But as the game wore on, Favre got better.

The Packers were down 20-7 in the fourth quarter when Favre started to heat up. With 1:07 left in the game and the Packers down 23-17, Favre had to take his team 92 yards for a game-winning touchdown.

Brett vs. Bengals

Favre did that in five plays, as he hit Kitrick Taylor with a 35-yard touchdown pass with 13 seconds left in the game, as the Packers won 24-23. For the game, Favre threw for 289 yards and two touchdowns.

Favre started the next week against the Pittsburgh Steelers leading the Pack to another win. The Packers finished 9-7 in 1992 with Favre under center, but narrowly missed the playoffs.

The Packers finished 9-7 again in 1993, but this time the team made the postseason as a Wild Card team. The Packers shocked the Detroit Lions at the Silverdome in the last minute of the game, as Favre threw a bomb across the field to Sterling Sharpe for a 40-yard touchdown pass to win the game 28-24.

Still, Favre was too inconsistent with his play in both 1992 and 1993. In those two seasons combined, Favre threw 37 touchdown passes, but also threw 37 interceptions.

During the 1994 season, there was some talk among the offensive coaching staff of the Packers to bench Favre and to give backup Mark Brunell an opportunity as a starter.

But between the steady coaching of quarterbacks coach Steve Mariucci and also Holmgren’s belief in Favre, the light suddenly turned on for No. 4 that season. Favre ended up throwing 33 touchdown passes that year, compared to just 14 picks for 3,882 yards. The Packers also made the postseason again as a Wild Card team.

Then from 1995 through 1997, Favre won three straight NFL MVP awards. Combined over those three seasons, Favre threw 112 touchdown passes versus just 42 interceptions for 12,179 yards. The Packers won three straight NFC Central titles during that time, were in three straight NFC Championship Games (winning two of them) and two Super Bowls (winning Super Bowl XXXI).

In the postseason during those three years, Favre threw 18 touchdown passes versus six interceptions for 2,090 yards. That adds up to a 99.2 passer rating.

The biggest attribute Favre had was his durability. Favre ended up starting 253 straight regular season games and 22 more in the postseason in his career with the Packers. No. 4 also had 160 wins over 16 seasons. 96 of those wins occurred at Lambeau Field (.762 winning percentage).

Favre also threw 442 touchdown passes for 61,655 yards while he was a member of the Packers.

Before Favre became the starting quarterback for Green Bay in 1992, the team had won just one division title since 1967 and had only won a single playoff game. That all changed when Favre came to town. Brett led the Packers to seven divisional titles, 11 playoff appearances and 12 postseason wins.

When Holmgren was head coach of the Packers, Favre was 9-5 as a starter in the postseason. After Holmgren was gone however, Favre did not have the same success, as he was just 3-5.

Overall in his postseason career with the Packers, Favre threw 39 touchdown passes versus 28 picks for 5,311 yards.

Favre also didn’t have the same type of production in the regular season the rest of his Green Bay career once Holmgren exited the team to head to Seattle.

Perhaps Favre’s greatest game as a Packer came on Dec. 22, 2003. That was the day after Favre’s dad Irv passed away after suffering a heart attack. Favre still decided to play that Monday night in Oakland versus the Raiders. What Favre did that night was simply incredible and heart warming. Despite playing with a heavy heart, Favre threw for 399 yards and four touchdown passes in a 41-7 Green Bay victory.

Brett vs. Raiders

In 2005, Favre had the worst season of his career in Green Bay, as he threw 20 touchdown passes, compared to 29 interceptions.

Also in 2005, Thompson had become the general manager of the Packers and his first ever draft choice ended up being quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Add to that, Thompson fired head coach Mike Sherman, as the Packers finished 4-12 that season.

Thompson then hired Mike McCarthy as head coach and Favre had a much better season in 2006, as the team finished 8-8. In 2007, Favre had the best season since his MVP days, as he threw 28 touchdown passes versus 15 picks, as he led the Packers to a 13-3 mark and a spot in the NFC Championship Game versus the New York Giants at Lambeau Field.

Favre ended up throwing a costly interception in overtime though, as the G-Men beat the Pack 23-20.

A couple of months later Favre retired. After giving his career in the NFL a second thought later that summer, Favre wanted to return. But by then the Packers were committed to Rodgers as a starter. The team and Favre had a messy divorce, as No. 4 was traded to the New York Jets for a third-round pick.

Favre played for the Jets in 2008 and led the team to a 9-7 record, but missed the playoffs. Favre threw 22 touchdown passes, but also threw 22 picks. Favre then retired for a second time after the season.

In 2009, Favre did the unthinkable as far as Packer Nation was concerned. He joined the Minnesota Vikings. Not only did he join the Vikings, but he led the Vikings to a 12-4 record and the NFC North crown. Two of those 12 wins came against the Packers.

Favre also had the best year of his career, as he threw 33 touchdown passes versus just seven interceptions. He also had the best passer rating of his career with a 107.2 mark.

By like he did in 2007, Favre threw a costly pick in overtime, as the Vikings were defeated by the New Orleans Saints in the NFC title game.

The 2010 season was the exact opposite of the success Favre had in 2009, as he was just 5-8 as a starter and saw his consecutive starting streak end at 297 games. Favre also had the worst season of his entire NFL career, as he threw just 11 touchdown passes versus 19 picks for 2,509 yards.

Still, when one looks at the entirety of Favre’s career in the NFL, No. 4 put up some incredible numbers.

Numbers like 508 career touchdown passes versus 336 interceptions. Or 297 consecutive regular season starts. Three consecutive MVP awards as well.

Favre also had 45 game-winning drives. No. 4 was also named to 11 Pro Bowl teams and was first team All-Pro three times.

In July of 2015, Favre was even welcomed back to Green Bay for his inclusion into the Packers Hall of Fame and for having his jersey No. 4 retired, as he received several loud ovations from the crowd of over 67,000 strong at Lambeau Field.

“It was like I never left,” Favre said. “It was a great feeling.”

Brett and Bart

Favre became just the sixth Packer to have his jersey number retired, joining Don Hutson (No. 14), Tony Canadeo (No. 3), Bart Starr (No. 15), Ray Nitschke (No.66) and Reggie White (No. 92).

Favre officially had his No. 4 unveiled on the facade of Lambeau Field on Thanksgiving night, with Starr on hand in a very emotional setting.

In less than a month, Favre will get the ultimate honor in the NFL when he is officially enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, becoming the 24th individual of the Packers to receive that honor.

22 thoughts on “Brett Favre: The Road to Canton

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