On Tuesday morning, a major announcement came down that sent tremors throughout the NFL and its fan base around the world.The Green Bay Packers quarterback, Brett Favre, announced his retirement from the NFL.
Favre was renowned for his unique style of play. He played the game with a child-like enthusiasm and a passion that very few have displayed. He commanded respect from everyone that was on the field with him and he was not afraid to talk trash to defensive linemen with at least 100 pounds on him. Another thing that made the fans love him was his unorthodox style of play. He had a rocket arm in his prime and could throw the deep ball with the best of them. He threw so hard that receivers barely had time to turn around before passes sailed at them at high velocity. He turned otherwise average receivers into great players while they were with the Packers. A receiver having dislocated fingers and knuckles as a result of Favre’s passes was common. He also was known for daredevil passes that conventional wisdom and a screaming head coach would advise against. Favre was a master at throwing shovel passes, no-look passes to try and catch the defense napping, and passes with defenders hanging on him.
Favre is a true iron man of the sport, starting 253 consecutive games (275 including postseason play) spanning from 1992 to 2007. To put this streak in proper perspective, many college students of this generation were in elementary school, the popular movie out was Home Alone 2 and one-hit wonder Right Said Fred released their hit “I’m Too Sexy.” The average lifespan of an NFL career today is about three and a half years. As rough as football is with guys breaking down and fading out quickly, 17 seasons is a long time to start every game with angry, athletic, 300-pound men coming full tilt at you.
Aside from having the most consecutive starts at the quarterback position, Favre has racked up some truly Hall-of-Fame-worthy statistics. Here is just a short list of all his records: first in career passing yards with 61,655, career passing attempts (8,758), completions (5,377), career touchdowns (442), career wins as a starting quarterback (160) and career games with at least 3 touchdowns (63). He also has a league record 12 straight seasons with at least 20 touchdowns.
Favre has also won numerous awards and honors in his illustrious career. He has won the NFL MVP award three times, all in consecutive years (1995, 1996 and 1997). Favre is a six-time All-Pro selection, a nine-time Pro-Bowler and is a member of the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team.
For all his worldly accomplishments on the field, Favre has seen his share of struggles in his career as well. The Kiln, Mississippi native played college football for the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles and started off as the team’s seventh string quarterback. In July of 1990, Favre wrapped his car around a tree on a back road in Mississippi. His older brother used a set of golf clubs to break the glass and help him out.
In August of that same year, as a result of that accident, Favre had 30 inches of his small intestine removed. He lost 40 pounds during the whole ordeal because he could not eat properly.
On September 8, one month after surgery, he led the Golden Eagles to a three-point comeback victory over Alabama.
Perhaps the defining moment of Favre’s career and the greatest game that he ever played was a Monday Night Football game against the Oakland Raiders on December 22, 2003. The day before, his father, Irvin Favre, suffered a heart attack while driving and died. Favre decided to play against the Raiders and led the Packers to a 41-7 win, throwing four touchdowns in the first half and racking up 399 total yards.
Yet Favre has had his share of struggles on the field as well. He owns the record for most interceptions thrown in a season at 288. He also is tied for the playoff record in interceptions (28 with Jim Kelly) and losses (10 with Dan Marino). In 2005, he led the league with 29 interceptions. He has also expressed frustration in recent years as the Packers organization has not surrounded him with the talent conducive to winning.
Why do people admire Brett Favre? The answer is quite simple. He is a flawed hero, a normal guy who makes mistakes, a national sports figure who is also a down-home good guy. He does not live in a New York apartment with a supermodel girlfriend.
Any cynic can look at his numbers and say they were not that impressive or that he was over-rated. If so, the same must true for all the quarterbacks that sit below him in numerous statistical categories.