Friday, February 13, 2009

Brett Favre: Calling it a Career

Here's a good sports question to ask at a bar:

Where does Brett Favre fit in in terms of the all-time quarterbacks in the NFL?

Here's the cases for and against, the way I see it:


Brett Favre retired this week as the only 3-time MVP in the history of the NFL. In fact, he won the MVP in three consecutive seasons, from 1995-1997, including a superbowl win in 1995 over the Drew Bledsoe-led New England Patriots, presumably pre-cheating. Favre's two best years were pretty clearly that superbowl year and the one following, when he put up some lofty numbers that almost any of today's quarterbacks would jump at:

1995: 359-570, 63.0% completions, 4413 yards, 38 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, QB rating of 99.5
1996: 325-543, 59.9% completions, 3899 yards, 39 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, QB rating of 95.8

It is hard to argue with those two seasons. 39 tds and 13 picks. Now that's hall of fame material right there.

More than those two spectacular seasons, his superbowl win and the three league MVP awards, Favre's career stats include some of the sickest numbers for any quarterback, ever. Brett Favre retires as the all-time leader among quarterbacks in wins, consecutive starts, yards, touchdowns and completions, in addition to the most 3000-yard seasons with 17 consecutive:

Most Wins (Starting QBs)
1. Brett Favre 169
2. John Elway 148
3. Dan Marino 147

Most Consecutive Starts (QB)
1. Brett Favre 269
2. Peyton Manning 176
3. Ron Jaworski 116

Most Career Passing Yards
1. Brett Favre 65,127
2. Dan Marino 61,361
3. John Elway 51,475

Most Career TD Passes
1. Brett Favre 464
2. Dan Marino 420
3. Fran Tarkenton 342

Most Career Completions
1. Brett Favre 5,720
2. Dan Marino 4,967
3. John Elway 4,123

Favre's regular season record is 169-100. That's like going 10-6 every year for 16 consecutive seasons. All these incredible career numbers, combined with his penchant for coming from behind and leading his team to victory late in games, and his unbelievable toughness as evidence by the never-to-be-broken 269 consecutive starts at quarterback, easily place Favre in the top 10 quarterbacks of all time. But how high on the top 10?


OK, so Favre is obviously an awesome, awesome quarterback in career terms, one of the best ever. But at just 1-1 in career superbowls, let's look at some of the other all-time greats and compare them with Favre.

Joe Montana won four superbowls in four tries with the 49ers. John Elway captured two superbowls in three appearances for the Broncos. Tom Brady won three superbowls in three appearances, I believe winning the superbowl MVP in all three. Troy Aikman won three superbowls in three appearances in the 1990s. I may be biased, having grown up watching these guys, but I can't help but give a whole lot of credence to anyone who has won multiple superbowls and was a great player in doing so, and all four of the above-mentioned names fit the bill. Plus there is Terry Bradshaw, who won four superbowls in four appearances in the 1970s.

Now, Roger Staubach also won two championships in the '70s, and Bart Starr won the first two superbowls in the late 1960s, and even Ben Roethlisberger now has two superbowl wins as of his beating of the Cardinals just a few weeks ago. But none of those guys is anywhere near Favre on the career lists of any of the major passing stats, so in my view Favre comes in ahead of those players with just one more superbowl victory than he and career stats not even approaching Favre's. But I have a really hard time putting Favre ahead of anyone with two superbowl wins and comparable career numbers (Elway), or anybody else with three or more champion victories who was dominant during their championship runs. So that leaves Bradshaw, Brady, Montana, Aikman and Elway ahead of Favre in my book, based just on career stats and superbowls.

The other major strike against Brett Favre is the fact that he truly played about five seasons too long. As I mentioned above, this is a guy whose prime was clearly in the 1995-1996 seasons, and here we are in frigging 2009 when the guy is finally retiring. Since the last time Favre threw 30 touchdown passes in a season (30 in 2004), he has thrown 88 touchdowns and 84 interceptions in four years, for an average of 22 tds and 21 picks a year. That is not such a great stretch over four years for a top-10 all-time quarterback. Moreover, Favre threw for more than 30 tds for five straight seasons, from 1994-1998, but then in 10 seasons since, he only bested 30 touchdowns three times.

In particular, the biggest issue with Favre has long been the interceptions. From a career standpoint, Favre retires as far and away the career leader in this statistic, leading the league in at least two seasons:

Most Career Interceptions
1. Brett Favre 310
2. George Blanda 277
3. John Hadl 268

Despite winning the superbowl in 1995, Favre also failed to distinguish himself in the postseason overall, ending 12-10 in career playoff games, with most of those wins coming in the first half of his career. Brett ended his career going 3-7 in his last ten playoff games, spanning over the last decade of Favre's time in the NFL. In his final 12 playoff games, Favre's passer rating was a respectable-at-best77.8, hardly befitting of a best-ever type of passer over 12 clutch games. In his last five wildcard games, Favre finished 2-3 with seven touchdowns and nine picks. Taking it a step further, in Favre's last three divisional playoff games, he went 1-2 with seven touchdowns and seven picks. Compare these postseason numbers to the likes of Brady, Bradshaw, Montana or the others I mentioned above and you will see where the debate comes from as to Favre's true place in history among quarterbacks. More than that, it is hard for many fans to forget Favre's role in two of the worst overtime playoff losses in NFL history, after he threw a pick in overtime to the Eagles' Brian Dawkins in the 2003 playoffs -- literally while Hammer Wife and I were getting married -- and then another to the Giants' Corey Webster to end the Packers' 2007 campaign in frustration. ESPN pointed out that Favre is the only quarterback in league history to throw overtime interceptions in two different playoff games. And I skipped over the 2001-2002 divisional playoff game against the St. Louis Rams, when Favre threw for 281 yards in a 45-17 loss, tying a playoff record by tossing six interceptions, three of them pick-6s to give his team no shot to win. In his last nine playoff games, Favre threw 18 interceptions, and in 22 total playoff efforts, Favre threw 28 interceptions. Despite the Packers amassing a 13-0 home playoff record at Lambeau Field from 1931 through 2002, Favre turned that record on its head, eliminating much of the cache from the Frozen Tundra in going 2-3 at home since 2002, including home playoff eliminations at the hands of Michael Vick, Daunte Culpepper and Eli Manning. Not exactly a who's who list of quarterbacks there.

So, in sum, Favre's career stats clearly warrant a top-10 all-time position among NFL quarterbacks in my view. You just can't diss on the guy who leads the entire league in career wins, touchdowns, yards, completions, 3000-yard seasons, and of course the incredible iron man stat with the 269 consecutive starts at quarterback. But I would argue that Favre's questionable postseason stats, combined with the noticeable dropoff in his regular season performance following the mid-1990s prime of his career, leave him somewhere around the bottom of the all-time top 10.

Anybody out there from Wisconsin who wants to say differently?

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Blogger Chad C said...

Brett Favre's "three" MVP's are a total farse.... He "earned" one of them the year Barry Sanders almost set the single season rushing title! Nobody should of shared the MVP with him that year.

Favre is so well liked IMO because the majority of NFL fans identify with and over hype white guys. Brett Favre is far and away the turnover god in NFL history. Everyone justifies this as him being a "gunslinger".... The guy was a coaches nightmare and even cost one coach a job and many others major pains. Remember when he shipped the NYG a Super Bowl by throwing a retarded pick in OT? How about the playoff game he threw 5-6 INTs in the same game? What about the Super Bowl "HE" won when their kick returner housed not one but TWO returns for TDs? Everyone refers to this as "Bretts Super Bowl".

Bottom line is the guy played a LONG TIME and should have a lot of records. I liken him to Emmitt Smith who people claim to be the best RB ever simply cause he held on to long and stumbled on some records behind some awesome teams. I hope Emmitt and Brett do an autograph tour together and get in a car accident :)

4:02 AM  
Blogger StB said...

I love Chad's point, one that I love to toss out on Packer fans. The first one Favre was given should have gone to Emmitt Smith when he set the season TD record and led the league in rushing. But the media was sick of the Cowboys and gave it to someone else. In the third one- the one that should have gone to Sanders- he got the split with one of the votes (AP/Pro football writers) while the UPI vote went totally to Sanders.

You get rewarded when you work with the media instead of against them. That is why Peyton Manning will get all the accolades in a couple of years when he is ready to retire. He worked well with the writers.

4:20 AM  
Blogger Bayne_S said...

As I like to point out to a former boss Trent Dilfer, Brad Johnson and Mark Rypien all had one Super Bowl victory. When Brett won his he had Reggie White on Defensive line,

I always prefer to say he won 2 1/2 MVPs which I think ties him with Peyton Manning now.

4:22 AM  
Blogger BadBlood said...

One point of contention - Elway was 2-3 in SB's. You may be forgetting his losses to the Phil Simms led Giants, to the Doug Williams-led Redskins, and the drubbing by one Mr. Montana. In fact, he lost 3 in 4 years 87,88,90

9:51 PM  
Blogger BadBlood said...

And of course, as much as I hate to admit it, Brady is 3-1. *cough* undefeated *cough* not. :)

9:52 PM  
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3:04 AM  
Blogger Drizztdj said...

As a die-hard Vikes fan, and noted Farve hater...

... he's still a Top 5 QB all-time

Johnny U.

4:26 AM  
Blogger Ignatious said...

fran tarkington > John Hadl

8:12 AM  
Blogger Muggins said...

Chad C, you are a total dipshit. Favre's numbers from 1995-1997 were some of the best ever by an NFL QB. In '97, he led the Packers to a division title (13-3) and the super bowl. What did Barry do? 9-7 and one-and-done in the playoffs. Gee, who was the better MVP?? The Packers went to the playoffs 10 out of 12 seasons BECAUSE of Favre, not in spite of him. Oh, but Favre was the ONLY QB in NFL history to have some bad performances... gimme a break. And Desmond Howard scored ONE TD in SB XXXI, not two. Oh, and Favre threw 2 TDs and also rushed for a TD in that game. Hmmmmm, I'm no math major, but I think that means Favre scored more points than Howard in SB XXXI. Chad, there's a new thing now called "research", you should try it sometime.

9:18 AM  
Blogger Muggins said...

As far as the author of this blog, Tom Brady has two SB MVPs. Deion Branch won the other one. Do you guys just make up stats to suit your arguments or what? Plus, there is the little fact that the NFL is a TEAM SPORT which means the same reason that Marino never won a Super Bowl is the same reason that Bradshaw won four. Bradshaw was SURROUNDED by Hall of Famers. NINE to be exact (10 if you count Noll) How many HOFers did Marino have around him? One. His center, Dwight Stephenson. Whoopdie-frikkin-doo. The Dolphins also had a shitty defense and no running game in Marino's career. How about Favre? Same exact thing. One HOFer: Reggie White, who was past his prime during Favre's best years. Favre was forced to do it all by himself- which explains most of those bonehead plays of his. So what? Is he not allowed to be human? Make mistakes? It amazes me how many anonymous internet dorks there are out there who love to tell everyone how terrible Brett Favre was. But you know what? You'll never see a blog signed "B Favre" telling people how "Chad C" was a shitty QB. Fuckin' net-nerds... get a life.

9:42 AM  
Blogger Muggins said...

And compare Elway and Favre in the postseason:
They both played 22 playoff games. Elway won 14, Favre won 12.
Favre passed for 5,311 yds, 39 TDs and 28 Int.
Elway passed for 4,901 yds, 28 TDs and 19 Int.
Elway had 9 more TDs than Ints.
Favre had 11 more TDs than Ints.
Favre had better stats but two more losses.
Well let's look at those two Super Bowl-winning seasons of Elway's...

After the 49ers embarrassed Elway and the Broncos 55-10 in Super Bowl 24, Denver kind of went into a funk from 1990-1995, going 49-47 and only made the playoffs twice. Then, a running back named Terrell Davis came along and suddenly, Denver went 13-3, 12-4 and 14-2 from 1996-1998. Not coincidentally, Davis had just about the greatest 3-year run any RB has ever had: 1538/13TD, 1750/15TD, 2008/21TD. Elway suddenly found himself back in the super bowl and led the Broncos to victory in SB 32... or did he? Terrell Davis gained 581 yards with 8 TDs in FOUR GAMES that postseason. Elway threw 3 TDs and 2 Ints.
In SB 33, Elway threw 3 TDs with 1 Int- but had a little more help from T.D. (468 yds & 3 TDs).

The fact is, without Terrell Davis, Elway would still be stuck on 0-3 in the Super Bowl. See my point? It's a TEAM SPORT.

No quarterback in the history of professional or college football, in any one of the thousands of games that have been played, has ever, EV-ER, won (OR LOST) a game all by himself. Anyone who says different is just a fucking idiot.

10:56 AM  

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