Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Brett, are you sure you want to put on that helmet?

Yesterday, while I was watching PTI on DVR, it was reported that Favre was likely to return to the NFL with the Vikings this year. Hearing only this statement, my wife immediately exclaimed from the kitchen for all to hear, "I hate Brett Favre".

This sealed it. We may have never seen a more wishy-washy player in the history of sports. Flashback to early last year when Favre tearfully retired from the Packers finally for the last time after we endured a couple offseasons of his indecision. It was one of those nice sports moments (even though I disliked him then already for being totally overrated) when an icon expresses his love for the game and we all go away with a sense of envy at wanting to be as good at something as he was. After all, Favre had turned in his best season in a decade and led the Packers to a 13-3 record, tying his best seasons of the mid 90s. Obviously the fire to play still burned inside him and since he wasn't forced to retire due to injury like Steve Young or Troy Aikman were, I was truly perplexed as to why he chose to retire at that moment.

Then after the Packers moved ahead in that draft and other offseason moves, Favre decided to return. We were all subsequently assaulted by months of 24/7 coverage over his prolonged standoff with Ted Thompson and Packers management. Then came the trade to the Jets and his 2nd retirement after last season. Favre had a mediocre 2008 season, a poor last few games, a torn bicep and another year of age added onto his creaky frame. No way he can come back right? Just a few months later we were again subjected to weeks of coverage over his indecision to join the Vikings. But this time he announced at the end of July that he had turned down their offer and would remain retired. Finally! 3rd time's a charm! Except...

Now Favre has already been named the starter for this week's preseason game. He hadn't even taken a snap yet. Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels have been slaving away for months in offseason workouts and training camp vying for the spot but Brad Childress decided to bring in a rusty and still unhealthy Favre to immediately take their place? Way to show your QBs that you believe in them. When asked if Favre was coming back, he said, "in a perfect world". Huh? Did Favre all of sudden turn into Joe Montana circa 1989? Umm, at his age, he's at best Jeff George, circa 1989.

I'm tired of hearing about how Brett Favre might be the best of all time. He's not even top 8 or 9. Yes I know he's played and won more games than anyone and I know he has more TDs than anyone. Tremendous. So he has every volume record out there. But did you know he also has the most INTs in history? He just strikes me as a great gunslinger who was fortunate enough to play for a long time. While he did have a great 3 year period from 1995-97, he has been mediocre more often than not in this century.

A more accurate measure of how a QB contributes to his team's success is his TD to INT ratio. How does Favre's ratio measure up to some other greats in the modern era?

Montana had 273 TDs and 139 INTs. Ratio: 2.0
Marino had 420 TDs and 252 INTs. Ratio: 1.7
Young had 232 TDs and 107 INTs. Ratio: 2.2
Manning has 333 TDs and 165 INTs. Ratio: 2.0
Brady has 197 TDs and 86 INTs. Ratio: 2.3

Favre has 464 TDs and 310 INTs. Ratio: 1.5

The only great QB of this era who has a worse ratio than Favre is John Elway, who has 2 Superbowl rings to Favre's 1, including one head to head. I would say all of those QBs above are better than Favre and we haven't even talked about old school greats like Sammy Baugh, Otto Graham, Johnny Unitas, Roger Staubach or Bart Starr.

So Favre was okay. Not too bad. Better than average. Who cares if he set records for TDs and INTs? It could just mean that he was hopped up on Vicadin so long that he played enough games to air it out and set records of all kinds. In the end, his main claim to fame is his longevity, which is impressive, but is not the measure of excellence for NFL quarterbacks. Playing a long time doesn't mean he played well for a long time. I can't get out of my mind a few seasons ago when Brett was just flat out atrocious, leading the NFL with 29 INTs. Fran Tarkenton said that Favre "has made more stupid plays than any great quarterback I've ever seen". So kudos to you Favre for being Jeff George with a brain.

Favre better try to push his TD record as high as he can this season because he won't have it for long. He has thrown 464 over 17 years. If we give him the same number of TDs this year as he had last year - another 22 TDs which is generous in this Adrian Peterson offense, he'll have 486 over 18 years. Peyton Manning has thrown 333 TDs over 11 years. If he continues at his pace (30.3 a year), he'll only need another 5 years to catch Favre. Maybe this is the real reason why Favre wants to keep playing? hmm...

But I digress. This season the Vikings have a solid squad at just about every position except the most important one: the QB. I can understand their desire to find greatness at that position but I'm not so sure that Favre is it. Rumors of a tear in his shoulder aside, he doesn't strike me as the right fit anyway. With the best RB in the NFL and their great defense, Minnesota should be looking to give opponents heavy doses of Adrian Peterson and matching that toughness defensively. Their QB should be someone who makes good decisions and takes care of the ball. That doesn't sound like the Brett Favre I know. The last thing they need is someone who has set a NFL record for turning it over.

Also remember that last year Favre wasn't able to lead a solid Jets team to the playoffs, much less to the Superbowl, as the Vikings hope he will now. Yes, he threw 22 touchdowns but they were accompanied by his 22 interceptions. I don't remember Jets fans languishing for the days of Favre when they snapped up Mark Sanchez in the draft.

And, as Peter King pointed out, the worst case scenario is that Favre actually gets sidelined by injury (who knows about this mysterious tear) for the first time in 17 years and the Vikings have to rest their playoffs hopes on a disenchanted and bewildered Tarvaris Jackson. Favre himself said at his 3rd retirement that he didn't think his body could hold up to the rigors of a 16 game season. Then again, I guess we can't really believe what comes out of his mouth anymore, can we?

For me, after being annoyed by Favre's game during his playing days and bored by his indecision in his offseasons, I am actually excited to see him play (especially vs the Pack) for the first time that I can remember. My wife might have finally concluded that she hates Favre, but I think I like him more than ever. When else can you see an icon do everything he can to destroy his own reputation?

So again, we may have never seen a more wishy-washy player in the history of sports. I guess its fitting for someone who has made more good decisions (464 TDs) than anyone in history AND more bad decisions (310 INTs) than anyone in history. Perhaps Brett doesn't really know how to make good decisions at all.

Perhaps, all he knows is that he has to keep throwing.

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