Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Glory and pitfalls

[media-credit name=’Mike Roemer/Associated Press’ align=’alignnone’ width=’648′]Favre_400[/media-credit]Who in Packerland could ever forget Sept. 20, 1992?

Green Bay, with newly hired head coach Mike Holmgren at the helm, squared up against the Esiason-era Cincinnati Bengals at Lambeau Field in week three of the regular season. Early in the game, Don “Magic” Majkowski, the Pack’s starting quarterback since the days of Lindy Infante, went down with an ankle injury. Holmgren then made a decision that would go down in NFL history, to start the 23-year-old Brett Favre, recently acquired from the Falcons.

Green Bay fought back from a two-touchdown deficit to win the game 24-23, capped off by a 35-yard touchdown pass from Favre to wideout Kitrick Taylor in the final minute. Though everyone in Titletown joyously welcomed the new playmaker, nobody could have expected what was in store.


Favre went on to the Pro Bowl that year, leading Green Bay to a 9-7 record (8-5 as a starter). Over the next 13 seasons, the slinger from the land of moonshine and civil rights discord would never again ride the pine, taking fans on a roller coaster of Wagnerian highs, and titanic lows.

The most recent low came at the hands of the rival Bears this past Sunday. Favre contributed to the negative turnover margin with two interceptions, both equally baffling decisions. The second sealed the Packers’ fate with a high pass directly to Bear safety Bobby Gray.

Last year in the NFC Divisional playoffs, Favre almost single-handedly ended the team’s Superbowl hopes (I say almost because the defense should be counted on for a stop on fourth-and-26) with a fourth-quarter drifter that came back to the Packers’ own 36 yard line. There are a million ways to try to justify this decision: playoff pressure, belief in the notion of destiny, whatever excuses or euphemisms someone could possibly concoct — but unfortunately the short bus can be a tough ride to pimp.

In 2002, he heaved two crucial picks to the Falcons in a Wild Card loss at Lambeau. A year earlier, he went 32-for-44 against St. Louis — which would be fantastic if six of those weren’t to Rams (a mark that ties the NFL playoff record, undoubtedly the most dubious of Favre’s record book entries).

There are literally dozens of other examples of Favrian numbskullery engraved into the annals of football history — far too many to ever list here.

Yet despite all the troubles, the disappointment and the headshaking disbelief, Favre has brought far more in terms of excitement to a franchise shrouded in failure for over three decades. Three MVP awards, two Superbowl appearances, over 47,000 yards through the air, 348 touchdowns, 20 wins over the Bears (certainly not the least of his accomplishments) and so many records the concept of setting them has virtually lost all meaning.

Among the mostly highly vaunted of his accolades is the current streak of consecutive starts. Actually when one hears the number ad nauseum via play-by-play analysts, the wonder behind the figure drowns in repetition. So let’s bring it back home …

Since Favre logged that first start in week four of 1992, NFL franchises have rotated in over 270 starting quarterbacks. Among the current teams in existence at that time, only a handful remain have utilized less than 10 — the Bears and Skins have each shoved 16 into the starting block since that fateful day.

Also, during that stretch, the Packers’ ironman has battled through the following injuries: first-degree separation of the left shoulder, a deep thigh bruise, a severely bruised left hip, a severely sprained ankle (twice), a sprained thumb, elbow tendonitis, a mid foot sprain, a sprained lateral collateral ligament and a broken thumb.

Added up, that’s 39 appearances on the weekly NFL injury report and not one missed start.

And yet, the oddest thing about Favre and his devil-may-care exploits lies in the fact that adversity makes him all the more lethal. I don’t mean that in the cliché after-school-special sort of way; I mean Favre’s finest moments come at times when football should take a back seat.

In his senior year at Southern Mississippi, Favre’s car tangled up with a tree and doctors removed 30 inches of intestine in an effort to save his life. Five weeks later, he returned to the field and upset Alabama.

In 1993, he played through a bruised thigh to come back against Tampa Bay, literally throwing the game-winning pass while hobbling around the pocket.

Two years later, Favre sprained his ankle against Minnesota and missed an entire week of practice. When the Pack faced Chicago the following week, he scorched the Bears, racking up a passer rating of 147.2. That year the Packers went on to challenge the Cowboys for the NFC title, and Favre claimed himself an MVP trophy.

Later on, the world discovered he even managed to do it while hopped up on the Vic. Favre admitted afterward that he took as many as 15 pills a day, perhaps an encouraging message to all the stoners out there.

Actually it should be noted that the whole scenario came about after Favre had a drug-induced seizure in front of his 7-year-old daughter. If NFL Films ever makes another documentary on the Packers’ 1996 Superbowl run, don’t expect to see that in the script.

In 2000 when Warren Sapp, Favre’s longtime rival, sacked the quarterback and forged an injury that lingered for the remainder of the season, he bounced back to smoke the Colts.

In 2002, a LaVar Arrington sack brought about the same scenario, and the Pack still made the playoffs.

Last but not least, the passing of Irv Favre prior to a Monday night matchup with the Raiders didn’t stop Brett from conducting one of the finest aerial performances in recent memory.

Nobody’s perfect, but Favre is far from it. Certainly some of his more notorious deeds an older and more mature Favre is ashamed of to this day. Still, with all that aside, the Packers are far and away a better team than they would have been without him. He’s brought us the finest in sporting spectacles Wisconsin has seen since the days of Lombardi.

Bottom line, it’s Favre. He’s impetuous, hasty, often morally deficient, tough, perpetually jovial and eternally a man of extremes.

All the better though. I’d rather have a Raskolnikov in the pocket than some stereotypical sports hero. History may have forgotten many a great athlete, but it certainly remembered Ty Cobb.

And it will never allow Favre to pass into obscurity.

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