The Pack is back.
Or more precisely, Brett Favre is back.
With their 31-23 demolition of the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, the Green Bay Packers proved that they are the top team in the NFC Central, if not the best team in the entire NFL. I mean, who thought the Pack would roll up an amazing 391 total yards against the vaunted Ravens’ defense? But those who believed the Ravens would roll into Lambeau Field and dominate Green Bay were forgetting one thing: Brett Favre.
After Favre won three straight MVPs in the mid-1990s – averaging 4059 yards and 37 touchdowns a season – and led Green Bay to a victory in Super Bowl XXXI, many were ready to proclaim him the greatest QB in the NFL, and after a few more years, perhaps the greatest in history.
The following season, in 1998, Favre had another spectacular year, throwing for 4212 yards and 31 touchdowns, guiding Green Bay to its second Super Bowl in as many years. But the Packers would end up losing Super Bowl XXXII to the Denver Broncos, and just like that, things quickly started going downhill for Favre and the team from Titletown.
After the Super Bowl loss, Green Bay’s head coach and mastermind, Mike Holmgren, bolted for the cloudy skies of Seattle, leaving Favre behind to continue the Green Bay tradition by himself.
Under new head coach Ray Rhodes, Favre seemed like he had lost his old touch. He still threw for over 4000 yards, but he also tossed more interceptions than touchdowns (23 to 22) and failed to carry Green Bay to the playoffs.
During the subsequent off-season, Favre publicly announced his addiction to pain killers and checked himself into a rehab center. When he emerged, clean and sober for the first time in years, Favre appeared poised to regain his MVP status. Yet, once again he struggled. With Mike Sherman now calling the shots in Green Bay as both head coach and general manager, Favre provided glimpses of his old form, rallying the Packers to two come-from-behind victories in three weeks. But hampered by a bad right elbow the entire season, Favre threw for only 20 TDs as the Packers missed out on the post-season for the second year in a row.
So, entering the 2001 season, there were plenty of question marks surrounding the gunslinger from southern Mississippi and the team he was going to lead.
Favre answered all of them against Baltimore.
On a day in which he once again proved that he is the best quarterback in the NFL, Favre completed 27-34 passes for 334 yards and three touchdowns.
Favre beat the Ravens with his athleticism and improvisational skills, buying himself extra time by scrambling outside the pocket. His bullet passes cut through the Baltimore secondary like a hot knife through butter, repeatedly finding their target in the form of a Packers’ wide out (or tight end or running back for that matter).
Now the Packers own the second best record in the NFL, and it appears it will stay that way for the rest of the season. With only the mediocre (at best) Chicago Bears providing any real threat, Green Bay seems to be a lock to return to the playoffs this season.
And if that trend continues all the way to the Super Bowl, people will start to whisper again that maybe, just maybe, Favre is the greatest quarterback in the history of the game.