So what was your reaction when the (literally) ultimate pass of Brett Favre’s career turned out to be a deadly interception that cost his team a trip to the Super Bowl? My own immediate thought was, “Typical Favre”. And a search of several message board threads about the NFC Championship Game reveals I was far from alone. Now I submit to you that when your QB throws a horrible pick in a critical moment to blow a playoff game and, rather than experiencing shock, disbelief, or incredulity, you’re instead completely unsurprised, then your QB is not the greatest QB of all-time.
Certainly Favre’s amassed quite the resume for consideration as the greatest:
1) Owns every major career passing mark;
2) Three MVP awards;
3) A Super Bowl championship
4) 253 consecutive starts at quarterback.
There’s a lot more. But how do you get past all those playoff INT’s? 28 in 22 games. Who can forget that overtime lollipop he put up for grabs against the Eagles in 2004? Brian Dawkins picked that one off and after the game he said: "They were telling me he was going to give me a chance to make a play…When you look at the film, that's what he does." Does that sound like somebody describing the greatest QB of all time? That game twinned with the 2007 NFC Championship Game made Favre the only passer to toss an overtime INT in multiple playoff games. Oh, and what about that legendary six-interception against the Rams to finish off the Packers’ 2001 season? Ok, to be fair those games came after Favre was past his prime and he still threw more TD’s than INT’s in the postseason and he won more than he lost. How about we just look at Favre’s postseason prime, specifically 1995-1997, when Favre won three straight MVP awards and was considered the best player in the game.
Nobody could find fault with Favre’s 1996 season: an MVP award, the league’s best record, and a dominating playoff run ending with a convincing win in Super Bowl XXXI. But what about 1995 and 1997? Why didn’t that great Packers team win more than a single title? Well Favre bears some of the blame for that. Midway through the 4th quarter of the 1995 NFC Championship Game, Green Bay trailed Dallas 31-27. Favre drove the Pack to the Cowboys' 46-yard line. Then on first down Favre faked a run and rolled right on a bootleg. Tight end Mark Chmura was wide open in the right flat just ahead of him. For whatever reason (Just trying to have fun out there?), Favre instead chose to throw deep down the sideline to Mark Ingram. Unfortunately, Ingram had broken off his route when he saw Favre scrambling so the throw was behind Ingram and picked off by Larry Brown who returned it 28 yards. Emmitt Smith scored a few plays later to put the Pack away.
Two years later, the Green Bay Packers entered Super Bowl XXXII as an overwhelming favorite. But thanks to two turnovers by Favre, the Packers actually found themselves down 17-7 in the early 2d quarter. Favre stopped turning the ball over, brought his team back, and the teams were tied at 24 early in the 4th quarter. But despite getting the ball three more times in the final quarter, Favre ran out of gas, couldn’t lead his team to anymore points, and they lost 31-24. And you can’t pin those scoreless drives on great defense. Green Bay outgained Denver that game and the Pack actually had more yards in Super Bowl XXXII than in their Super Bowl win the year before. Green Bay had a real chance to win two or three Super Bowls in the years Favre won his MVP hardware. The talent and opportunity were there but Favre’s costly turnovers and failure to make big plays when needed helped deny the Pack a shot at being a dynasty. And a QB that doesn’t grab a championship when it’s there for the taking isn’t the greatest quarterback of all-time.
Not The Greatest Quarterback Of All-Time: The Series
Sammy Baugh, Otto Graham