For 49ers fans, Sunday’s loss to the Packers in Green Bay wasn’t a shock.
Once again San Francisco entered Lambeau Field with hopes of ending their curse on the frozen tundra, and once again, they fell short. From the moment Brett Favre’s pass fell into the hands of Javon Walker for a 66-yard touchdown, the game was over. There has been no greater enemy to the 49ers in the past eight years than Brett Favre. But with his retirement imminent in the next couple of seasons, where does Favre rank all-time?
In 1996, it seemed that Brett Favre would soon become the greatest quarterback to ever play the game. His amazing arm strength and Herculean durability were unprecedented for quarterbacks in the Super Bowl era. Favre threw for 39 touchdowns and only 13 interceptions during the Packers’ ride to their first Super Bowl since the ’60s.
Only John Elway could step in the way of Favre a year later, but the Packers were certain to win more titles in the coming years. But the bottom fell out for Favre. Head coach Mike Holmgren moved west to Seattle and the Packers’ nucleus of all-pro players slowly left Wisconsin to retirement or free agency. Popular belief was that Favre’s career would begin to head south as well.
Favre’s interceptions went up and the Packers’ win total went down, but he still has remained at the top of his game despite the dwindling talent around him. Among the top quarterbacks in the past 30 years (Bradshaw, Montana, Marino, Elway, Young and Aikman, to name a few), Favre ranks in the top three.
Favre’s 86.6 career quarterback rating is third behind Young (96.8) and Montana (92.3) and has averaged 22.1 touchdowns per season, second behind Marino at 24.7. But Favre’s greatest feat can’t be judged by numbers.
How many times has Favre’s escaped the grasp of 300-pound defensive linemen to throw a 35-yard bullet for a touchdown? How many times has he overcome injury in frigid weather to lead the Packers to victory?
The only scar on Favre’s incredible career is his knack for finding the open defensive back. Favre has a career average of 22.1 interceptions per year, by far the worst amongst the elite quarterbacks; only Bradshaw comes close at 15.1 per season.
Despite his ability to throw the interception, Favre is a special breed. Looking across the NFL right now, there are only a handful of quarterbacks that garner even a glimmer of the respect that Favre receives. The next great quarterback is still yet to be determined, but make sure you watch this star before his light finally flickers out.