Brett Favre and the Comeback of an NFL Career

August 30, 2006 – Everybody seems to be discrediting Brett Favre and his decision to come back to the NFL. After his poor outing against the Cincinnati Bengals on a Monday Night Football game, many analysts ridiculed Favre for not making great decisions. These comments were warranted, considering he threw a couple of picks and was seemingly picking up where he left off in 2005, which was playing poorly. However, it was a pre-season game, and people are tending to put too much emphasis on pre-season games. And they are doing that more this season than I have ever seen before.

For example, there are many quarterbacks that are coming off injury, and more is being based on their athletic display and their stats than their comprehension of the offense. Daunte Culpepper had a pre-season game in which he moved around quite well, but he still did not seem to know when and where to throw the ball and yet many people have the Miami Dolphins, Culpepper’s team, in the playoffs because of that athletic display. Then there was Carson Palmer’s debut, where he had great numbers, but that was due in large part to the other team’s poor tackling and overall defense. Yet every analyst I have listened to has him back at the top of the quarterback echelon. The problem with basing so much on a quarterback’s, or any position for that matter, pre-season performance is that nothing going on in a pre-season game is 100%. Neither team is playing all the players they would play if it were the regular season, and quite frankly, a lot of players are not playing with the same reckless abandonment that they would play with on a typical in-season Sunday. This is why much more should be based on how the players understand their offenses or their defenses. The questions analysts should be asking about these players are, “how many mistakes did the players make?” Or, “Is he constantly not reading a certain key?” All and all though, these are the only questions that should really be discussed during the pre-season. And anything else you hear about a player’s performance is not going to be more applicable to the upcoming season than the player’s performance last year.

I went on that tangent to prove a point. That point being that the pre-season will never, ever, ever, predict what is going to happen in the regular season, thus making Favre’s bad night against the Bengals highly irrelevant. This man is an NFL great, and we all know that he understands the West Coast offense as well as anybody in the league. That’s all that matters when analyzing Brett Favre’s pre-season play. To Brett Favre, the pre-season is like the 3rd quarter; It would be nice to jump out to a lead, but it doesn’t mean that you will win the 4th quarter. But speaking of 4th quarters, isn’t that Brett Favre’s specialty? Doesn’t Brett Favre come out on top of a close game more than anybody not named John Elway? It is 100% undeniable that 9 out of the last 10 years, if you asked defensive coordinators who they would fear the most with a 4 point lead and 2 minutes to go, 90% of them would have said: “Brett Favre!” He is the definition of a 4th quarter comeback. His creativeness, recklessness, and his spontaneity make him a feared competitor when the game is on the line. When he has the ball in his hands and the pressure is on, defensive coordinators don’t know what to call. They are confused, because in a situation where the events to occur ought to be fairly predictable, Favre is anything but conventional. When it’s late and it’s 3rd and short and most quarterbacks would throw a pass to the sideline for the first down, Favre might throw a 40 yard fade, or even throw the skinny post over the middle. If it’s 3rd and forever, Favre might check it down and make 4th down manageable because he is not afraid of running out of downs like most novice qb’s. In the 4th quarter, when most players get cold feet, Favre pumps ice through his veins, and there a few quarterbacks in the history of the game who have a bigger heart than old #4.

But in a time where Favre’s arm isn’t the same as it used to be and when his team isn’t what it once was, I would like to think of this point in Farve’s profession as the 4th quarter of #4’s career. The clock is ticking on Brett Favre. It would be absurd for him to comeback next season, and so that leaves him with only 16 regular season games and a glimmer of hope. Doesn’t sound too different from the last 2 minutes of the 4th quarter, does it? So why are so many people counting Favre out? He’s faced this situation numerous times, and he has thrived in it almost more than anybody in NFL history. So why can’t Favre go out on top against all odds, just one more time?

Favre is a competitor, and he has more ice in his veins than Oprah Winfrey has money. Can you imagine this guy playing every game like it’s his last? Like every game is the 4th quarter? He will be unstoppable! I know there are those of you who think he played like every game was his last in 2005, but in all reality, he did not even consider retiring until the season got out of whack. And as his decision to comeback demonstrates, even his consideration of retirement was just that, consideration. But this year is different. Favre knows it’s his last season, and he knows he has to solidify his legacy. Granted, in most people eyes, he has already established his legacy and there is little he can do to add to it (outside of winning another Superbowl), but I don’t think he has solidified it quite yet. Because the real #4 legacy is his ability to come through in the clutch, his fearless passing in pressure situations, his ability to avoid the rush at all cost in order to avoid a potential game-ending sack, and his constant verve to will his team down the field. All of those things are the real legacy of Brett Favre. Not just a Superbowl, some passing yards, and a touchdown completion, but the ability to win when all the odds say you should lose.

You know, people keep putting down Favre and the Packers. They keep saying that Brett is out of his mind for saying this is the best Packers’ team he has ever been apart of, and maybe he is, but he certainly could still make it one of his best. The media is also saying that he just looks sad and disgruntled because things aren’t going his way, but all I see is a man who is willing to do anything to make sure his team is ready for the season, and yeah, he gets mad when his team shows flashes that it’s not prepared. The media just keeps on piling on the number of reasons that Favre is being selfish and is hurting the Packer’s by returning to the team, but I just see a guy who wants to give the old arm one more “heave-hoe!” But nobody is mentioning the fact that if you had to pick one time in a game where Brett Favre has been superior to almost everyone to play the quarterback position in his era, it would be the 4th quarter. Well, media, this is the 4th quarter for Brett Favre. It’s the 4th quarter of his career. And if you just want to keep contributing to one of the best feel-good stories of the year, then keep hating on #4 and keep counting him out. But all you are doing is raising the stakes for the best 4th quarter comeback in the history of the NFL, the comeback of Brett Favre.

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