The Luckiest Man in Sports: Brett Favre’s Third Chance

Kyle Blum

Brett Favre’s season with the Minnesota Vikings will be his third attempt at an Elway-like finish to one of the most prolific careers in the history of sports. But does he deserve it?

His accomplishments over his more than 19 year NFL career are staggering. Favre is the NFL’s all-time leader in passing yards, touchdowns, completions and (unfortunately) interceptions. Most impressive of all his accomplishments is his streak of 271 consecutive starts (292 if you count the playoffs). A veritable iron man, the NFL has never had a quarterback quite like Brett Favre.

Favre’s game winning drive last Sunday against the 49ers was truly spectacular, and eerily reminiscent of so many other vintage Favre drives. He’s now the NFL’s all-time leader in 4th quarter comebacks with 40. The scramble and ensuing completion to wide receiver Greg Lewis at the back of the end zone with two seconds left was the play of the weekend, without a doubt. But that play has overshadowed the fact that Favre was out of sync for the entire football game. He made numerous bad throws in critical situations, and wouldn’t have even had a chance at the game winning drive were it not for a critical three and out produced by the defense with three minutes to play. Favre threw 22 incompletions on the afternoon. I’m not trying to diminish his incredible play at the end of the game. I’m just pointing out that Favre got a lot of help from his teammates throughout the game.

There is no question that the iron man has stumbled into a dream scenario given his circumstances. Somehow he managed to find a team with a great offensive line, the best running back in the league, and a very qualified defense who just happened to have one of the absolute worst quarterbacks in the NFL. As if that weren’t enough, Favre is going to get to play eight games this year in a dome, which should prove helpful given how poor his performance was in cold weather last season.

But, for Favre to take such a golden opportunity, he had to play for the primary rival of his former beloved, the Green Bay Packers. Taking this job was yet another slap in the face to the organization that treated him like a God for 17 years. Playing for the Jets was one thing. Playing for the Vikings is an entirely different scenario.

Before, I did not feel this way about Brett Favre. I used to have nothing but respect for him as both a player and a person. I even put up with the first of his now three off-season deliberations about whether or not to return. But I stop liking someone as soon as their ego makes them think that they are bigger than the team. I now lump Favre in with Terrell Owens, Chad Ochocinco, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and every other player who has decided to forgo the code that most athletes live by; that no one is bigger than the team. Maybe Favre didn’t abuse the code in the same way that these other athletes have, but he still broke it. For someone who has behaved like such a child these last three years to be given such a golden opportunity is karmically unconscionable to me.

I’m not saying that if I was the Vikings I wouldn’t have taken Brett Favre. Tavaris Jackson is an absolute joke of an NFL quarterback, and with a half-decent QB the Vikes are a Super Bowl contender. I’m not saying that retired players don’t have the right to try and make a comeback. But they need to follow the same rules as everybody else. If you want to play then say so. Favre didn’t do that. He dragged his decision out to the last possible moment, and there was definitely some bitterness on the part of many Vikings players because of this. But they didn’t really have a choice. They needed him.

The Vikings host the Packers this weekend. I hope they chew him up and leave him planted in the dirt for what he did to them. I hope that Aaron Rodgers-who, by the way, has never been given enough credit for being one of the classiest athletes ever with how he handled the Favre mess-throws for 400 yards and four scores. Brett Favre might have a great chance to finish his career on a high note, but he doesn’t deserve it.