Tha Sports Junkies 101

Looking Back At The Career Of Brett Favre

Scottie Herman via Flickr



In 1992, the Green Bay Packers were on a 10 year stretch of no playoff appearances and a 71-95 record. With a seemingly insignificant trade, they acquired an unknown backup quarterback from Southern Miss named Brett Favre from the Atlanta Falcons.

He was a young, brash kid who was ready to do anything he could to play the game he loved. Legendary GM and Packers Hall of Famer Ron Wolf saw something in him from the beginning. The head coach at the time, Mike Holmgren, was a little less sure.

Holmgren was only starting his career as a head man when Favre fell into his lap. The two clashed early and often at practices and in the film room.

Holmgren was a staunch professional that believed in doing things a certain way. Favre, as most know, was all about spontaneity and having fun. The contrast in their personalities caused many to believe the arrangement wouldn’t work out. Those people were wrong.

Like something out of a hollywood script, it was a first quarter injury to starting QB Don Majkowski that led to Favre getting his chance.

Majkowski had been a solid QB and a fan favorite in Green Bay for years but could never seem to win consistently. His injury would immediately  lead to one of the most memorable games in Packer history. September 20th, 1992 was the day that the legend of Brett Favre began.

The Packers had started their season 0-2 and looked to be heading straight for 0-3. When Favre stepped on the field it wasn’t an instant success. He was unable to get the ball in the endzone the first three quarters of play and seemed unable to control his powerful arm.

When the 4th quarter started it seemed a switch flipped. Down 17-3, Favre and the Packers would go on to score 21 points in the final period including Favre’s first career game winnng TD pass.

Down 23-17 with only 13 seconds remaining Favre hit a 35 yard touchdown pass to little known Kitrick Taylor to secure the come from behind win.

In his first game he led Green Bay to a 4th quarter comeback, something he would do 30 more times in his career. He finished the game with 289 yards and 2 TDs in 3 quarters.

The next week he started in place of Majkowski and beat the Pittsburgh Steelers. Majkowski would never get his spot back as Favre would go on to start every game for the Packers from that week 4 win until 2007.

He ended the 1992 season 9-5 as a starter and led the Packers to a 9-7 overall record, the best in 4 years.


In 1993 and 1994, the Packers would finish the same way they finished 1992, 9-7. However, both those years led to playoff births and eventual playoff victories. In a matter of three years the Packers had gone from an average team struggling to tread the waters of the NFL to a contender.

With 3 playoff wins in 2 full seasons as an NFL starter Favre had began to make a name as a winner in the NFL. With Holmgren treading lightly on the line between reigning in the gunslinger and letting him loose, the Packers found a comfortable middle ground rooted in the West Coast offense.

Holmgren was raised in the Bill Walsh coaching tree. Walsh, legendary coach of the Joe Montana led 49ers pioneered a unique passing attack filled with quick, horizontal stretch-based passes. It allowed the ball to be thrown to intermediate, simple routes cutting down on mistakes and increasing YAC (Yards after catch) for the receivers.

There is probably no other offense that could’ve contained Favre like the West Coast offense. It took about 3 years for him to understand his limitations within the system and get comfortable with all of the quick reads necessary to successfully execute the appropriate hot routes. Starting in the ’95 season Favre won three consecutive MVP awards, still the only man to do so, and put up a 37-11 regular season record.

Favre put up legendary numbers during this stretch. He passed for over 12,000 yards, 112 TDs, and most importantly only 42 interceptions. This was the best stretch of the turnover prone legends career. In fact, his first two full seasons in the west coast offense as starter he threw 38 INTs. As he improved his work in the film room receivers such as Antonio Freeman, Andre Rison, Robert Brooks, Sterling Sharpe, and many others thrived running the patented Packers slants and curl routes.

After two years of hovering on the brink of a championship everything seemed to come together. The ’96 Packers will always be ranked among the greatest teams in NFL history. Not only did Reggie White anchor a top 3 ranked defense, Favre and his offense were reaching heights barely touched in the 90’s through the air.

The Packers allowed only 210 points and scored an NFL-best 456 points, and become the first team since the undefeated Miami Dolphins of 1972 to score the most points in the league and allow the fewest. They also set an NFL record with seven wins by at least 25 points.


The Packers and Favre would continue their domination into the playoffs. They first eliminated a Steve Young-less 49ers team 35-14 while forcing 4 turnovers. They would then go on to also knock off the upstart Carolina Panthers 30-13 in the NFC championship game.

Super Bowl XXXI saw the Packers take on the New England Patriots in a clash at the Superdome. Not many people gave the Pats a chance against the powerhouse Packers, and Favre decided to reaffirm those opinions early. Just as he did with his game winning pass against the Bengals, Favre again added to his lore.

It was a simple 2nd down play in the first quarter in which Holmgren called for a screen play. Favre mentioned in an interview after the game that he had watched many of the Joe Montana/Bill Walsh era 49ers Super Bowl wins the days leading to the game and decided to take a trick from Joe.

Favre recalled a TD Montana threw in which he checked to a hot route built into the west coast offense coined “razor”. It’s a simple hot route that looks to attack the middle of the field if the safety is crowding the box. Favre took the snap back and threw a dime to Andre Rison for a 50 yard TD while both his feet were facing the line of scrimmage, body fading backwards, and with almost no follow through. It was the kind of throw and audible that would go on to define his entire career, for better or worse.

Favre had his moment. It produced one of the most iconic images in Packers history as Favre ripped off his helmet in pure joy and began running around the Superdome like a child on Christmas morning.

This play set the tone for what would be another double digit playoff win and the first Green Bay Super Bowl Championship since 1967. Favre wasn’t done though, he would find his favorite target Antonio Freeman on another audibled play down the sideline for a 81 yard TD pass. This was at the time a Super Bowl Record. Before the first half was even over Favre would also score an iconic rushing TD in which he sprawled out across the pylon.

The second half was completely dominated by the lauded Packers defense. Reggie White made his stamp on the game sacking Pats QB Drew Bledsoe numerous times in the 4th quarter as well as helping to force 4 turnovers. Favre would go on to pass for 246 yards, 2 TDs passing and 1 rushing, and most importantly 0 turnovers.

Packers kick returner Desmond Howard would go on to win the MVP after returning a kick for a TD in the 2nd half when the game was still contested. Even if the record books don’t show a Favre Super Bowl MVP, everyone who saw that game understands who the most valuable player on that team really was.


The next season Favre and Green Bay continued their success. For the 3rd year in a row he earned the league MVP award, and for the 2nd straight year the Packers went 13-3. In the NFL repeating as champion is not something done often. In fact it has only happened 8 times, first done by Green Bay in Super Bowl 1 and 2.

The 1997 season was a strange one for Favre. It had come out after the ’96 season that he had become addicted to painkillers after suffering and playing through many significant injuries. His toughness was one of his most enduring traits, but also led to some of his most glaring downfalls. Through all of it he kept winning and he kept gunslingin’.

Favre fought through the critics and again passed for over 3,800 yards and 35 TDs. The NFC North had become his playpen, and it seemed there was no stopping the Pack. They rolled through TB and once again the 49ers to reach the Super Bowl. This time waiting for them was the underdog Denver Broncos led by veteran John Elway.

Favre would vastly outplay Elway, but the Broncos running attack led by Terrell Davis was able to control the game. Davis would rush for 157 yards and three touchdowns. This year it was Elway, not Favre who got his moment.

Late in the game with the Packers needing a stop, Elway decided to take off running and got helicoptered around and happened to land in first down territory, icing the game and taking the chance to win out of Favre’s hands. This Super Bowl loss was the last time Favre would see the biggest stage in sports.


1998 was another year of success from an outsiders view. The Packers went 11-5, but things began to slowly change. Holmgren was getting increasingly more interested in becoming a GM/Coach and the Packers weren’t getting rid of Wolf.

Favre also began to listen less and play more out of control than ever. Favre threw for 4,000 yards for the first time in his career, but also accumulated 23 interceptions. Something had to give if they wanted to make it back to a third straight Super Bowl.

Unfortunately, they didn’t find the remedy and the Packers fell in the Wild-Card round, ironically to the 49ers, a team the Packers had owned for years. After the season Reggie White officially retired and Mike Holmgren left for more responsibility with the Seattle Seahawks. This would lead to a sharp decline for the entire organization.


After Holmgren, the Packers decided to go into a completely different direction. They hired former Packers coordinator Ray Rhodes to take over the helm. Rhodes was coming off a Coach of the Year award a few years prior with the Eagles.

Quickly, it was obvious that Rhodes was in over his head with Favre. His passing attempts increased by over 60 attempts and he ended with more interceptions, 23, than TD passes, 22. There was no balance in the offense and it was a lost team. He did not have the magic touch that Holmgren did. The Packers finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs for the first time with Favre since his debut season.

They didn’t waste anytime dismissing Rhodes after one season and moving on to Mike Sherman.


Mike Sherman was able to reinstate a more systematic offense that protected Favre from himself. The first step in that process was getting some backup in the backfield.

Ron Wolf worked his trade magic one more time by getting Holmgren in Seattle, yes that Holmgren, to trade a 3rd year RB out of Nebraska for a corner and a 6th round draft pick. Ahman Green was able to change the way the Packers approached the game.

Green joined the Packers and immediately had an impact. In fact he would go on to become the Packers all-time leading rusher by the end of his career.

For the first time in a long time there was someone who could make game changing plays with his feet and open up the pass game.

At this point in Favre’s career he began to deal with bad foot and ankle problems along with a constantly beaten up thumb. Handing the ball off to Green and taking away some hits was crucial. Green was a workhorse, but like Favre he had his problems. Green fumbled. He fumbled a lot. With the most prolific interception thrower of all time next to one of the most notorious fumblers in decades the Packers became like a game of Russian Roulette.

The Packers seemed to find a perfect balance at the start of the decade. After a so-so first season together Sherman and Favre began to click. Favre was able to put up consistent numbers earning him 3 straight pro-bowls.

Sherman would end up going 57-39 (2-4 postseason) before he was fired after the 2005 season where they ended up a dismal 4-12.  Favre also threw for a career high 29 interceptions. A four win season in Green Bay will get you booted pretty fast, but it had even more to do with the lack of postseason success in the 2000’s.



After the Packers’ 1997 playoff win against San Fransisco, Favre’s playoff performances were noteworthy for all the wrong reasons. His last 8 playoff games with Green Bay resulted in a  3-5 record with 14 touchdown passes and 16 picks. Included in that stretch was the first ever home playoff loss in team history as Michael Vick ran all over the Packers on a snowy night.

Setting aside his Super Bowl throws, Favre is probably most known for his late game season ending interceptions. Both of these came in overtime games where all they needed to do was kick a FG for to head to the Super Bowl.

The first came to Brian Dawkins of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2003 minutes after Donovan McNabb had completed a 4th and 26 to extend the game. Then,a came his last hurrah in Green Bay in 2007 when he tried to force a first down throw, but instead gave Corey Webster the biggest play of his career as he jumped the route and set up a game winning FG.

Favre remains the only quarterback in NFL history to throw overtime interceptions in two playoff games. In his last nine playoff games, Favre threw 18 interceptions.


Mike McCarthy took over the Packers in 2006 and from there it was obvious he wanted to evolve and change. Ted Thompson, the Packers new GM agreed. This led to Thompson choosing Aaron Rodgers as his first ever draft pick. Rodgers was a projected number one pick but dropped to number 24.

Green Bay jumped at the chance for a talent like Rodgers. The pick gave the Packers an out when it came to Favre. It seemed his career was coming to an end and a new plan was being created. From the beginning things were pretentious between the two quarterbacks. Favre was clear he was no mans mentor, and he was still there to win.

Without even knowing it he helped create the man who would eventually fill his shoes. It was Rodgers time as Favre’s understudy that led him to understand what it was to be an elite NFL QB.

Had Rodgers been thrown into a starting spot right away he would have ended up in the same position as a lot of QB’s right now that can’t find solid footing.

It was the aforementioned Favre interception against the Giants that ended his career with Green Bay. The Giants would go on to beat New England and end their undefeated season.

Favre would shortly after officially retire from the league and allow for Rodgers to take over the prestigious job of Packer QB he had created.

Favre would end his Packer career as the leading passer in essentially every single major passing category in team and league history racking up over 61,500 passing yards and 442 TD passes. Oh yeah, and another NFL record of 286 interceptions.

This would be far from the end of the Brett Favre story.


The 2008 season was only a short while away when suddenly Favre decided he wanted to unretire. Thompson and McCarthy had already made their choice. Rodgers was their hand picked guy, their franchise player. They offered Favre a place but not a competition.

As a man with a lot of pride and a lot of confidence he wasn’t going to be anyone’s backup. He put himself out on the market and wound up in the Big Apple. The New York Jets needed a QB and Favre wasn’t going to turn down a chance to get back out on the field.

For the first half of the season it seemed Favre was still the same guy. However, the season wore on him and injuries added up. Eventually the Jets finished 9-7 and Favre ended his season in New York with, yes, you guessed it, an interception. He threw 22 of them throughout the year.

During his time in New York he also ran into off the field problems as he did in ’96 with Green Bay. He was accused of pushing unwanted advances to a local sports reporter through text messages and pictures. He become a punchline for many late night comedians and internet trolls.

Once the season ended he couldn’t get out of New York fast enough. For the second time in his career it was time for Brett to hang ’em up.


However, as he often did midplay, Favre changed his mind and went a different direction. Yet again he came out of retirement. This time around it became personal. Being from Wisconsin I can tell you many, including myself, were fine cheering for New York if it meant supporting Brett. Cheering for division rival Minnesota Vikings was a line no one wanted to cross.

Aaron Rodgers had started to come into his own and facing Favre twice a year seemed like quite the chore. Despite his obvious talent most still thought Thompson dropped the ball in trusting him. The fans worries weren’t helped when Favre beat the Packers both in Minnesota and at Lambeau. He threw for over 3oo yards and 3 TDs in both games.

2009 with the Vikings would be one of Favre’s best years. Minnesota would go 12-4, earning a playoff spot. Favre would pass for over 4,000 yards, 33 TDs, and a remarkable 7 interceptions. He played the entire year with a chip on his shoulder and headed into the playoffs looking to find the 90’s magic he lost in the next decade.

Unfortunately for Favre and Vikings fans everywhere his last career playoff pass was a forced interception late in the 4th quarter throwing across his body. As in ’07 when he threw the game losing pick against the Giants, the Saints would clinch the game and go on to become Super Bowl champs.

This game became not only famous for the interception but was also the basis for claims the Saints were putting bounty’s on certain players. Favre took a constant beating and by the end of the game could barely even step down on his ankle. He would try to play one more season with Minnesota but eventually shut it down because he never got back to 100%.


After a 20 year career,2 Favre finally hung it up after the 2010 season. When all was said and done he had eclipsed:

  • 71,868 passing yards
  • 508 TD passes
  • 336 INTs
  • 6,300 completions / 10,169 Attempts (62%)
  • 186 wins

Most of these were records at the time of his retirement but shortly after beaten by Peyton Manning. However, I don’t think anyone will ever get near his interception stat.

After his 3rd and final retirement it was bound to take a few years until Favre could step back through the tunnel at Lambeau. Fans such as myself were hesitant to welcome him back. It wasn’t until he started to reach out and support Rodgers and the Packers in 2011 on their way to the Super Bowl that things began to mend.

It was much easier to move on with the Lombardi Trophy back where it belonged. Then Favre and Rodgers began to appear on awards shows joking and seemingly getting along together, and fans decided if they are okay, we should be too.

Fast-forward to last years offseason when it finally became official that Favre would be headed to not just the Packer Hall of Fame but the Ring of Honor circling Lambeau. The Hall of Fame ceremony is something most Packer fans will never forget.

Over 75,000 fans filled Lambeau Field on a hot July day to see their hero turned villian, turned back to hero, Brett Favre. Yes you read that right. 75,000 people showed up solely to watch his acceptance speech on a big screen inside the stadium without any guarantee they’d see him in person. When he eventually did walk out on the field for the first time in 5 years, 8 years as a Packer, the fans chanted and cheered for 10 minutes straight before Brett even got a word in. It was clear all had been forgiven on both sides.

Fast-forward again to Thanksgiving 2015 when he entered the Ring of Honor. He joined legends of the game such as Curly Lambeau, Vince Lombardi, Reggie White, and Bart Starr forever immortalized. The image of Bart Starr and Brett Favre hugging and waving at midfield during halftime of the Packers-Bears game transcended the sport. It was a moment that a non sports fan could watch and say,”wow, this is a special moment”.


Next week Saturday Favre will complete the final step in his career. Every player dreams of the moment they are enshrined in Canton, but only a select few get there. With that being said I’m not sure there is anyone that deserves to be there more than Brett. As someone from Wisconsin, Favre forever holds a piece of my childhood.

There is a reason why when you ask most of the QB’s playing today who their favorite player was growing up, it’s Favre. He brought something completely different. With an infectious appetite for fun he would joke with anybody and everybody. His career and life wasn’t all roses and daisies, but it was never dull. Through his wife’s fight with cancer and his personal downfalls he remained steady.

Everyone in Wisconsin remembers where they were the night after his father passed away and he put on a show in Oakland. The game of his life, 4 TD passes in the first half, during one of the toughest moments of his life. Favre’s popularity and reach was never more evident than that night when Raider fans began cheering and supporting a man beating their team by 30 points. Favre never held an emotion in, he felt deeply about everything and this allowed others to feel deeply with him.

Forgot all the records he set. It was his passion that separated him from everyone else. The man started in 297 consecutive games and played through numerous broken bones and sprained ligaments, that’s passion for the game. He played as hard as he possibly could every second because he knew who was depending on him, that’s passion for the state of Wisconsin. He memorized and remembered every staff member that worked at Lambeau Field and inside the organization, that’s passion for other people.

There has never been a mold for creating a Brett Favre. He did things his own way and no one could’ve told him any different. He was never anyone’s prototype, but he created a legacy all his own.