40 and fabulous: a BrettFavre love story

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Aug 12, 2010



By Mark "The King" Wald
Cold, Hard Football Facts screaming pain in the ass
 
Count me among the vast minority of people rooting like hell for BrettFavre to come back again this year.
 
It's not that I'm a Packers fan still burning a flame for Favre even though he left us. I'm not. It's not that I'm a Vikings fan, hoping Favre might finally get us over the hump. Not that either.
 
It's just that I don't care if someone's a little flakey. I don't care about their texts, posts, or tweets. I'm weird that way.
 
Actually, that's not really true. If he didn't deliver the goods, I'd probably care about all those things. I'd probably go on a rant about style over substance.
 
But Favre delivered like a 1950's milkman last year. Until he starts killing dogs in cruel and unusual ways or starts flipping out his own version of Big Ben's Tower of London, I'm willing to overlook the fact he's a little dramatic.
 
Back In 1992 I was going nuts living in a crappy cracker box apartment. One Sunday afternoon I was hanging out watching the Packers play the Bengals and a guy named Favre came off the bench early then connected on a long touchdown late for the victory.
 
After the game Packers coach Mike Holmgren gushed about what a great win it was, like it was all part of some grandmaster plan. It might have been his first win as a head coach.
 
I wasn't buying it. A backup quarterback came in off the bench and caught fire, I figured.  It happens once in a while.
 
But he kept doing it. Favre mania took off and never stopped. For whatever reason, whether it's his boyish unpretentious manner, free wheeling style, or some of his personal struggles that made him seem more human than the rest, no quarterback in the last 20 years has been quite as scrutinized ... or romanticized.
 
Like anyone else, I've been occasionally amazed at some of the dazzling plays. But Favre was never one of my favorite players; I could take him or leave him.
 
Until last year, that is, when he had one of the best years in NFL history. When it dawned on me he was 40 years old. 
 
Most guys that age are sneaking smokes in the garage so their wife doesn't see. Favre's tossing 33 touchdowns.
 
Most guys that age are shooting out of bed at 2:30 a.m. to shake off the cramp in their calf. Favre's shaking off the crap the New Orleans Saints knocked out of him in the second half, getting up and coming back for more.
 
Favre's joined the likes of Nolan Ryan, George Foreman, and Randy Couture. Men who defy nature. Genetic freaks. We shouldn't be watching these guys on live sports television. We should be watching them on friggin' Wild Kingdom, accompanied by Marlin Perkins' careful narration.
 
Whether you like the guy or not, the fact Favre's out there playing better than quarterbacks almost half his age is fascinating. Fascinating the way watching the Discovery Channel about an old mountain gorilla who manages to remain leader of his troop despite challenges from other silverbacks half is age is fascinating. 
 
It just isn't supposed to happen. Like, ever.
 
Most NFL quarterbacks who survive for a long time overcome their diminished skills by drawing on their knowledge of game built on years of experience, usually in a backup role. Favre, older than most older quarterbacks, still does it by making off-the-cuff plays other quarterbacks don't. It might have been quaint when he was 25. At 40, it's a minor f*ckin; miracle.
 
But none of that matters, because the guy's a little weird. You know, can't make up his mind, that sort of thing.  Apparently, he's made a fool of himself in recent years, and his game has tanked.   
 
I'm not buying that either. Early in his career, the pundits convinced us we loved Favre when we didn't. Now anti-pundits who look and smell an awful lot like regular pundits are convincing us we don't love him when maybe it's about time we should.
 
Favre's the same guy he's always been, capable of great highs and great lows. He was that same guy last year, except his highs were higher, his lows were lower, and he had the best season of his career, one of the best years of any quarterback in NFL history, in fact.
 
Favre's 107.2 passer rating in 2009 was the 12th best passing season ever. Here's the list:
 
Top Single-Season Passer Ratings
Player
Year
Rating
Peyton Manning
2004
121.1
Tom Brady
2007
117.2
Steve Young
1994
112.8
Joe Montana
1989
112.4
Daunte Culpepper
2004
110.9
Milt Plum
1960
110.4
Drew Brees
2009
109.6
Otto Graham
1947
109.2
Kurt Warner
1999
109.2
Dan Marino
1984
108.9
Sid Luckman
1943
107.5
BrettFavre
2009
107.2
 
More amazing, Favre accomplished it at an age when most men are trying to find a way to work a little more fiber into their diet. 
 
Oldest Quarterbacks who Started 75%-plus of Team's Games
Name Age Starts Record Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Rating
Vinny Testaverde 41 15 5-10-0 297 495 60.0 3,532 17 20 76.4
Warren Moon 41 14 7-7-0 313 528 59.3 3,678 25 16 83.7
BrettFavre 40 16 12-4-0 363 531 68.4  4,202 33 7 107.2 
BrettFavre 39 16 9-7-0 343 522 65.7 3,472 22 22 81.0
Doug Flutie 39 16 5-11-0 294 521 56.4 3,464 15 18 72.0
Phil Simms 39 16 11-5-0 247 400 61.8 3,038 15 9 88.3
Warren Moon 39 16 8-8-0 377 606 62.2 4,228 33 14 91.5
Brad Johnson 38 14 6-8-0 270 439 61.5 2,750 9 15 72.0
BrettFavre 38 16 13-3-0 356 535 66.5 4,155 28 15 95.7
Charlie Conerly 38 10 8-1-0 113 194 58.2 1,706 14 4 102.7
Craig Morton 38 15 10-5-0 225 376 59.8 3,195 21 14 90.5
Dave Krieg 38 12 6-6-0 226 377 59.9 2,278 14 12 76.3
Fran Tarkenton 38 16 8-7-1 345 572 60.3 3,468 25 32 68.9
George Blanda 38 12 3-9-0 186 442 42.1 2,542 20 30 47.9
Joe Montana 38 14 9-5-0 299 493 60.6 3,283 16 9 83.6
John Elway 38 12 10-2-0 210 356 59.0 2,806 22 10 93.0
Ken Stabler 38 14 7-7-0 176 311 56.6 1,988 9 18 61.4
Kurt Warner 38 15 10-5-0 339 513 66.1  3,753 26 14 93.2 
Vinny Testaverde 38 16 10-6-0 260 441 59.0 2,752 15 14 75.3
Warren Moon 38 15 9-6-0 371 601 61.7 4,264 18 19 79.9
Y.A. Tittle 38 11 1-8-2 147 281 52.3 1,798 10 22 51.6
 
Favre needs one more year to catch Warren Moon and Vinny Testeverde as the oldest quarterbacks to start the majority of games for their teams.  They both accomplished it at age 41.  But they also missed action.  Favre, third on the list, started every game and led his team to a winning record.
 
Narrowing the list to just the QBs who started every game, Favre holds the top two spots and appears four times in all. That's incredible.
 
Oldest Quarterbacks to Start Every Regular-Season Game
Name Age Starts Record Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Rating
BrettFavre 40 16 12-4-0 363 531 68.4  4,202 33 7 107.2 
BrettFavre 39 16 9-7-0 343 522 65.7 3,472 22 22 81.0
Doug Flutie 39 16 5-11-0 294 521 56.4 3,464 15 18 72.0
Phil Simms 39 16 11-5-0 247 400 61.8 3,038 15 9 88.3
Warren Moon 39 16 8-8-0 377 606 62.2 4,228 33 14 91.5
BrettFavre 38 16 13-3-0 356 535 66.5 4,155 28 15 95.7
Fran Tarkenton 38 16 8-7-1 345 572 60.3 3,468 25 32 68.9
Vinny Testaverde 38 16 10-6-0 260 441 59.0 2,752 15 14 75.3
BrettFavre 37 16 8-8-0 343 613 56.0 3,885 18 18 72.7
Dan Marino 37 16 10-6-0 310 537 57.7 3,497 23 15 80.0
Dave Krieg 37 16 4-12-0 304 521 58.3 3,554 16 21 72.6
John Elway 37 16 12-4-0 280 502 55.8 3,635 27 11 87.5
Kurt Warner 37 16 9-7-0 401 598 67.1 4,583 30 14 96.9
Rich Gannon 37 16 11-5-0 418 618 67.6 4,689 26 10 97.3
Roger Staubach 37 16 11-5-0 267 461 57.9 3,586 27 11 92.3
Vinny Testaverde 37 16 9-7-0 328 590 55.6 3,732 21 25 69.0
 
One thing that stands out is how many of these old-timers led their teams to winning records. It makes sense; quarterbacks that old still playing every game must be pretty good or they wouldn't be there. In the case of Elway, Warner and Gannon, they each made it to the Super Bowl.  But in terms of statistical accomplishment, though, Favre's 107.2 passer rating, 33 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, and 68% completion rate in 2009 leaves everyone else in the dust. 
 
Last year Favre also became the oldest starting quarterback to win a playoff game and the oldest quarterback to start a conference championship game.
 
Oldest Quarterbacks to Start a Playoff Game
Quarterback Age Att Yds Rate
BrettFavre 40-106  46 310 70.0
BrettFavre 40-099  24 234 134.4
Phil Simms 39-073 25 124 29.4
Phil Simms 39-067 26 94 71.6
Fran Tarkenton 38-331 37 219 53.8
Johnny Unitas 38-240 36 224 39.6
Johnny Unitas 38-233 21 143 62.2
Earl Morrall 38-228  11 51 66.9
Earl Morrall 38-221  13 88 68.7
John Elway 38-217  29 336 99.2
 
The big knock on Favre these days is, of course, his waffling on retirement.
 
Big deal. Hell, I've been trying to take Friday off from work the last six weeks. Gone so far as to schedule vacation, tell the boss, and make alternate plans. Then I end up coming in anyway because I just can't tear myself away from the place I love it so much.
 
Apparently that makes me and Favre the world's biggest d-bags.
 
And how about the fact he's holding the poor Vikings hostage? You know, the Vikings, those trusting souls who had no clue he just might take a little while to make up his mind.
 
Look, if your neighbor's wife is stepping out and he doesn't care, then why should we? The Vikings either have the world's biggest case of Stockholm Syndrome or they went into this with their eyes wide open. Maybe your neighbor's wife makes one hell of a meat loaf.
 
Some "pundits" who run shitty websites that claim to be all about the "facts" point out BrettFavre ruined a couple Januarys with colossally mindless season-ending gaffes.
 
Yes, that was unfortunate. 
 
Just as Peyton Manning's colossally mindless season-ending INT (at the hands of the same player) in the Super Bowl a couple weeks later was unfortunate.
 
Just as Kurt Warner's colossally mindless season-ending INT to James Harrison in the Super Bowl the year before was unfortunate.
 
Almost as unfortunate as the colossally mindless INT Tom Brady threw to the Colts' Marlin Jackson that ruined the Patriots' January 2007.
 
Which was almost as embarrassing as the mistake-prone Steve Young's fumbles and INTs vs. the Cowboys that ruined Januarys 1993 and 1994. 
 
We all have our challenges. BrettFavre's challenge is a fatal flaw that seems to rear its ugly head at the worst possible times. His interception in the NFC Championship last year was  like the silenced gun of Benny Blanco from the Bronx that cut down Carlito just as he was about to board the train, the image of Caribbean paradise passing before his eyes, just beyond his grasp. 
 
I've searched everywhere looking for the elusive director's cut with an alternate ending, but there isn't one. Some movies just end that way.
 
But it doesn't have to be over. 
 
Simple law of averages dictates that Favre and the Vikes will be hard pressed to repeat what they did last year in terms of wins and dominance, and many people say the Packers are favorites to win the NFC North. 
 
But Favre proved last year he still has the athletic skills, savvy and panache to lead a team. Savvy and panache don't win games (you might say in Favre's case it's helped him lose games), but even Favre's most vocal critics would grudgingly admit he has an ability to raise the level of his game in contests that have emotional importance to him.
 
If BrettFavre comes back, is there anyone out there who believes he won't send Aaron Rodgers and his three day beard back to shaving school again this year?
 
If that happens again the Vikings win the division again, with another shot at going to the Super Bowl. On the train, two stops to go, Caribbean straight ahead.
 
It could happen. That'd be something worth tweeting about.

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