The Gunslinger – Brett Favre
Although nowadays there is scattered approval for Brett Favre, there is no denying that “The Gunslinger” brought the football world to its feet with some of the most amazing plays in history. And he also was the man responsible for bringing the Lombardi Trophy back home where it belonged.
Brett Lorenzo Favre is a man who has retired far more than just once; and has brought spirit and a ‘second chance’ to some seriously forgotten about football teams. This all began when he started at the quarterback position for the University of Southern Mississippi. There, he played for four years before being selected in the second round of the 1991 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons. Fate was working for Favre, because he was eventually traded to the Green Bay Packers in 1992, and the rest became history.
Favre did have to learn for a short period of time, not becoming the Packers’ starting quarterback until the fourth game of the season. This was the man known to everyone as the most reliable of all football players, simply because after that first start, Favre started every game through the 2009 season of football. With two hundred and ninety-seven starts – if nothing else – Favre proved he was beyond dependable for any team he played for.
Of course, there was a great deal more when it came to this familiar football uniform. He remained the only player to win the AP Most Valuable Player three consecutive years; he led his teams to eight division championships; five NFC championships; and, made two Super Bowl appearances. His records go from most touchdown passes to most passing yards – to most sacks and most fumbles – so each end of the spectrum is covered by football uniform number 4.
Beginning at the beginning, with Atlanta, Favre signed a three-year, $1.4 million-dollar contract. BUT the coach of Atlanta didn’t even want Favre drafted for his team – let alone allow him to stay in their uniform. And, in essence, the coach was right, as Favre came out of the gate by having his first NFL pass in a regular season game turn into an interception that was returned for a touchdown. Oddly enough, Favre only was allowed to attempt four passes in his career for Atlanta; he was intercepted twice, and completed none of them. It was no surprise for Falcons’ fans or their coach that he would be given over and traded as soon as humanly possible. It was the Green Bay Packers general manager who traded for Favre who had actually wanted him when he was an assistant to the general manager of the New York Jets. The odd ‘fate-like’ point about this trade is that Favre actually failed the physical, when the doctor’s discovered that he had a degenerative condition. But the coach didn’t care and nullified the doctor’s recommendations.
Brett Favre was the glory man for Green Bay for sixteen seasons, starting every Packers game from 1992 to 2008, so the coach was – at the very least – wise. But Favre still remained a bit ‘odd’ at the quarterback position when he first entered a Green Bay game. On his first regular season play as a Packer, Favre threw a pass that was deflected and caught by himself. Favre was tackled and the completion went for -7 yards. Suffice to say, the Packers lost. That ridiculous introduction to Green Bay fans was soon overruled in the following season when Favre made sure the Packers reached the playoffs; their first playoffs since 1982, and Favre was nominated to his second Pro Bowl.
Favre then fell into a five-year, $19 million contract, and advanced the Packers to the playoffs in the 1994 season, as well. In 1995, Favre got even better and led the Packers to an 11–5 record – Green Bay’s best record in nearly thirty years. The Packers also advanced to the NFC Championship Game after upsetting everyone’s favorite team at the time – the San Francisco 49ers – in the NFC Divisional Game. The Packers went on to lose the NFC Championship game to the Dallas Cowboys, marking it the third year in a row the Packers season was ended by the Cowboys in the playoffs. Favre helped the Packers advance farther in the playoffs than any other Packer team had since 1967, the season the Packers won Super Bowl II.
It was in 1996 that the Packers advanced to Super Bowl XXXI at the Louisiana Superdome, which was a short drive from Favre’s hometown. It was an easy win over the New England Patriots and they continued their dominance of the NFC during the next season, as well. Green Bay advanced to the next Super Bowl for the second year in a row; after being heavily favored, the Packers lost to the Broncos. But fans continued to love their Pack.
In 1998, Favre was part of one of the most memorable games in football history. His uniform went against the amazing uniform of Steve Young of the 49ers. In a wild card playoff game, Favre rallied his team with a touchdown pass with 1:56 remaining in the game. But, along came Steve Young, who used that time that was left to pass his own touchdown with three seconds remaining. This was the very first year since 1994 that the Packers didn’t at least reach the NFC championship game.
As with a great many sports careers, Favre became the target of a minor controversy in 2001. In New York Giants Stadium, he was sacked by the Giants defensive end Michael Strahan. This was the lone sack of the game and gave Strahan the NFL’s single–season sack record of 22.5, which topped the all-time record of Mark Gastineau set in 1984. But analysts came out and said that, after looking at the tapes, Favre had actually allowed himself to be sacked in order to help Strahan set the record.
Then the first retirement gossip began. Favre was actually given a standing ovation in the closing seconds of the Packer victory at Chicago from the Chicago fans – a tribute to their longtime nemesis. Moments later at the post game interview, Favre gave a tearful interview where he admitted his future was questionable. However, he did return in 2007, with people believing that if the Packers made the Super Bowl, Favre would indeed retire and hand the reins over. Ultimately, the Packers fell to the New York Giants (who in turn won Super Bowl XLII).
On March 4, 2008, Favre formally announced his retirement. BUT it was not over. After a great deal of fights with the Packers, and even dealing with a tampering charge being filed, Favre officially signed with the Minnesota Vikings. He would go on to have a landmark season for achieving consecutive starts at one position, and became the first quarterback in NFL history to defeat every one of the league’s thirty-two franchises since the NFL first expanded to 32 franchises in 2002
Then, controversy started up again, when Favre had joined the Jets. The NFL began investigating Favre for allegedly using inappropriate language on voice messages to Jets “Gameday” host, Jenn Sterger. Favre was found not to be in violation of the NFL’s personal conduct policy, but was fined $50,000 for failing to cooperate with the investigation.
Although Favre’s career went on for a bit longer, the overwhelming fan support dropped to almost zero. But, no matter what, Favre WILL always be the quarterback that did do his job – every single game of every single season – and brought the Pack back!