I’ve held my peace on this matter, publicly, for some time. However, it’s high time we all spoke truth to megalomania in the case of Brett Favre.
Has anyone ever faded into retirement more haltingly, with less class, candor or self-knowledge than our Ol’ Gunslinger friend, Brett? When he wasn’t dicking around his various former teams, teasing out his impending retirement charade on an annual basis (the hot breath on his neck being that of ESPN), he was literally showing his dick to distaff media types via his mobile phone.
But now, if that weren’t enough, Favre’s shoddy, delusional comments re. Aaron Rodgers have landed him back in the news. And so, it’s time that we leveled with Brett Favre:
You’re a fraud. A media creation. A compiler of yardage and touchdowns at the expense of titles. A man who stands but a hair’s breadth — a single kickoff-return-for-touchdown — from being the second coming of Dan Marino, or Fran Tarkenton, or Jim Kelly.
Let’s recap, shall we? Here’s the entire offending quote, delivered during a radio interview this week with Atlanta’s 790 The Zone:
“He’s got tremendous talent, he’s very bright and he got a chance to kind of sit and watch and he saw successful teams do it right,” Favre said of Rodgers. “And so he just kind of fell into a good situation. And on top of that, he’s a good player. I don’t think anyone would question now the talent around him is even better than when I was there. So I really was surprised it took him so long. Really, the early part of last season, it hadn’t quite clicked yet and I didn’t know if it would. I just figured at some point, when they hit their stride, they’re going to be hard to beat. And that’s what happened.”
That there is a very nuanced bit of damnation via faint praise, and there is so much to take issue with:
• The Packers team that won it all last year had more talent than the back-to-back Super Bowl teams Favre quarterbacked in the late 1990s? Um, I don’t think so… Green Bay limped into last year’s playoffs at 10-6, got hot and won it all. They are arguably a better team THIS year, compared to last, but they were certainly no juggernaut in 2010-11, nor in the three years Rodgers led the team following Favre’s departure.
• Rodgers sat on the bench and watched successful Packer teams do it right? Really? Rodgers spent three years as an understudy to Favre in Green Bay: In 2005, the Pack went 4-12; in 2006, they missed the playoffs. The following year Green Bay and Favre were admittedly superb, but the season ended in the NFC Championship Game when the Ol’ Gunslinger killed yet another playoff game-winning drive by throwing a foolish interception, in Giants territory, in overtime.
Indeed, while Rodgers may well have learned a lesson there — don’t be so fucking careless with the ball, so late in a playoff game — Favre, in his grizzled wisdom, did not. After retiring (following the OT loss to the Giants), then petitioning the league to join the Jets for 2008 (no playoff appearance ensuing), then pulling the same retirement charade again before joining the Vikings for the 2009 season, Favre similarly threw way his team’s chance at a Super Bowl berth by slinging an even more heedless interception in the dying moments of another NFC Championship Game, against the Saints.
Hey, Wrangler Boy: Sorry to be the one to level with you, but despite all your dramatics, all your meaningless yardage and consecutive-starts records, you are one of the great underachievers in football history. You are but a Desmond Howard return-for-touchdown away from being Marino, Tarkenton or Kelly — only worse, because 1) your teams were routinely better than Dan-O’s one-dimensional Dolphin teams of the 1980s, Tarkenton’s overmatched 70s-era Vikings, or Kelly’s Bills from the early 1990s ; 2) you blatantly threw away more playoff games with your impetuosity, something these guys never did; and 3) Kelly and Tarkenton, it should be said, each qualified their teams for 4 Super Bowls, something you did but twice.
Let’s turn back the clock to January 1997, to the only big game Favre did win, Super Bowl XXXI vs. the New England Patriots, because I think we can already see that a great deal of his Hall of Fame reputation rides on this single result, the only Big One he ever one, on any level.
Of course, the Patriots have gone on to bigger and better things since that fateful night in New Orleans (amazing just how many Patriot highlights and lowlights have been recorded there, eh?). The Packers were, you will recall, an excellent team in 1996-97, clearly the better team. Pats poobah Bill Parcells was literally on his way out the door to coach the Jets, something the Patriots players knew and it undoubtedly affected their performance. Favre’s team was favored by 14 points (!) and Drew Bledsoe was the opposing quarterback…
And yet, the Patriots had every chance to win that game, and it wasn’t Brett Favre who won it for Green Bay. Midway through the fourth quarter, New England had driven down the field and scored a touchdown to make it 27-21 — The Pack and their all-World QB had been stuck on 27 points since late in the second quarter. Favre and the Green Bay offense were inert; one more defensive stop from the Patriots and that game was completely up for grabs. But then Desmond Howard returned the ensuing kickoff 99 yards for the TD that sealed the game.
“We had a lot of momentum, and our defense was playing better. But [Howard] made the big play,” Parcells intoned after the game. “That return was the game right there.”
Howard won the game for Green Bay. He totaled a Super Bowl record 90 punt return yards— most of them in the first half, utterly swinging the field position battle in the Pack’s favor. He would rack up 154 kickoff return yards, and his 244 all-purpose yards tied a Super Bowl record. He was the MVP, naturally.
It’s not stretch to say that, but for Howard’s performance and that one huge play, Marino, Tarkenton and Kelly would have company in the Greatest QBs Never to Win the Big One Club (GQBNWBOC).
[Note: My buddy Jammin’ has concocted an intriguing theory attached to this game, Super Bowl XXXI, and this particular play. The last player struck from the Patriots Super Bowl roster that year was none other than Troy Brown, then a 4th year reserve wide receiver and special teams player who would later become not just an all-pro but one of the most respected Patriots of all time. Why? Because Brown was a complete football player, catching passes, playing special teams, even stepping in to play defensive cornerback for the 2004 and 2005 Patriots. As Jammin’ argues, not unconvincingly, “If Parcells keeps Troy Brown on the roster to play special teams, he makes the play on Desmond Howard. Guaranteed.”]
I don’t want to minimize too much Favre’s centrality to what was an excellent Green Bay team, one that would go 13-3 the next year and win a second consecutive NFC championship. But here again, Favre failed to win the Big One. He and the Packers returned to the Super Bowl in 1998 as 11½-point favorites but contrived to lose to John Elway and the Denver Broncos, 31-24, thereby releasing Elway from GQBNWBOC ignominy.
So yeah. Favre is a fool. He’s retired and should just go away. And I wanted it noted, for the record, that I’ve laid out this entire argument and never once referred to Vicodin.