Brett Favre: The best and worst quarterback

Packers quarterback Brett Favre in the pocket during game between the Green Bay Packers and the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York on November 5, 2006. Buffalo won 24-10. (Photo by Mark Konezny/NFLPhotoLibrary)
Packers quarterback Brett Favre in the pocket during game between the Green Bay Packers and the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York on November 5, 2006. Buffalo won 24-10. (Photo by Mark Konezny/NFLPhotoLibrary) /

He was the best of quarterbacks, he was the worst of quarterbacks. He was the euphoria-inducing quarterback, he was the source of extreme frustration, hair-ripping-out, yelling-and-throwing-stuff-at-the-TV quarterback.

When the game was on the line, and he had the ball in his hands, you knew he would either pull a rabbit out of his hat and win the game with a jaw-dropping, only-he-could-do-that, only-he-would-even-attempt-that play, or he would throw an errant pass into triple-coverage when there was a receiver wide open right in front of him (naturally somebody’s going to be wide open when the opponent has one of your receivers triple-covered).

All Packers fans old enough to remember phone booths and video stores know who I’m referring to. Brett Favre was, indeed, in his heyday, the best quarterback and the worst quarterback in the NFL. Usually in the same game; sometimes on the same play.

Brett Favre the unignorable

Favre was a diamond mine to the NFL, because the casual fan loved to watch him play. He was exciting. He was unpredictable. His “down-home” persona was refreshing, or at least entertaining.

Millions of eyes were glued to him when he suited up, because you never knew what he would do next – pick a fight with an opposing player who had 100 pounds on him, slap a ref on the rump, bounce up after a sack and tell the other team they’d have to do better than that, badger and tease coach Holmgren on the sideline, get seriously injured and run back onto the field two plays later, or even float the idea of imminent retirement every off-season, yet keep coming back for one more crack at a trophy.

Well, that last trick you could pretty much predict during his last several years in Green Bay.

No matter what else you might say about him, Favre was fun to watch. Much of the reason why it was so enjoyable to watch him was because it was obvious he himself was having fun. The enthusiasm was genuine; the spontaneity he brought and the resulting uncertainty was always entertaining, even when it turned out badly for the Packers. 

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Not that I liked it when that happened. Still, Favre was never boring.

And something else: Favre was indefatigable and seemingly indestructible. He holds the record for the most consecutive games played in the NFL (297, the equivalent of almost 19 straight seasons).

Favre was also unconquerable, regardless of how many games he lost or interceptions he threw. What I mean by “unconquerable” is he couldn’t be stopped. He never gave up, or in. Reminiscent of Tom Petty, he never backed down. He kept bringing it, no matter what.

Favre could throw three interceptions and not even blink, continuing to play with a hell-bent-for-leather-helmet, never-say-die bulldog tenacity. You could second-guess some of his decisions, but never his toughness or his love for the game.

If you liked football even just a little, you couldn’t ignore him. Brett Favre the Unignorable. Brett Favre the endless revenue stream for the NFL, a money magnet for the entire league.

But I am neither here to bury Favre, nor to praise him overmuch.

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Favre the accidental pitchman

There’s another side to all this. Not really a dark side, in any shocking or nefarious way, but definitely another side.

Favre wasn’t just a boon to NFL owners (for whom he helped put butts in the seats and eyeballs on the screens), but other types of commercial enterprises benefited greatly from him as well.

What I’m getting at is, Favre also served as an unintentional product endorser, boosting the sales of Rogaine, Tums, Rolaids, Pepto-Bismol, and similar products, to Packers fans worldwide.

This, of course, is due to all the (self-perpetrated) hair-pulling as well as nervous stomachs caused by Favre’s game-day heroics, anti-heroics, and edge-of-seat, eye-bulging, tight-rope-walking histrionics.

Nobody did it better (all those amazing, miraculous touchdown passes). And nobody did it worse, either (all those bone-headed interceptions). Nobody did it more excitingly, or excitedly.

We (Packers fans) will always have Brett. But as for me, the past is where I prefer Favre to be.

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The antidote

Give me Aaron Rodgers. He’s not always as flashy as Favre was, but that’s okay. I want to keep my hair. And, with the money I’m not spending on antacids and hair-growth products, I’m saving up for a down payment on a Lear Jet. That way I can attend the Super Bowl in style.