A few weeks ago — I believe the Saturday prior to the Super Bowl — I heard a caller to one of the Fox Sports Radio programs (Fox GameTime Saturday…either Preview or Warmup) comment about Kurt Warner perhaps being better than Brett Favre. The host seemed to dismiss the caller’s argument and immediately claim that Favre is automatically getting into the Pro Football Hall of Fame simply because of the records that he holds.
Now, previous to the Super Bowl, I was set to make a similar argument about Warner IF the Cardinals won Super Bowl 43. As it turned out, the Steelers won it and my argument kind of lost its thunder. But, I had also previously begun pondering Favre’s worthiness as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. And, I had an argument set up for the day he did retire (again). So, once he did retire last week, I was busy with other work and never had time to write the blog. AND THEN, I read Mark Bradley’s blog on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s website [LINK: click me!] and now wish that I went ahead and wrote it (Bradley had the same thought as I did). Nevertheless, here it goes…
Favre is overrated. And this is coming from someone who, despite being a lifelong Packers’ fan, is a fan of Brett Favre. But even I admit that he is not the greatest QB to ever play, nor he is Hall of Fame bound simply because of the records he holds. Consider the following.
Brett Favre’s records is what most point to as proving that he is a great quarterback and Hall-of-Fame worthy. But keep in mind the cliche — “records are made to be broken.” Someone will eventually break Favre’s records. Holding a record does not guarantee HOF entry — at least it should not. Charley Jones once held the all-time home run record in baseball, yet I do not see him in Cooperstown. While Manning is almost 20,000 yards behind Favre, it would take Peyton a little less than five seasons of 4000 yards passing to overtake Favre. He could also average 30 TDs to surpass the all-time touchdown mark. Favre also holds the record for most seasons with at least 3000 yards passing. But keep in mind that pass-happy offenses were not the norm throughout the history of the NFL. And players are now getting closer to 5000 yards passing in a season…soon it could be a regular occurrence and Dan Marino will not seem so special. Eventually, 3000 yards will be an obsolete milestone. So, records are not indestructible. Just holding a record now should not guarantee Hall entry.
On a side note on records, I do not think that the interception record that Favre holds should count against him. Bradley (the AJC writer) seemed to really hate this, but keep in mind that he has attempted over 9200 passes. Cy Young holds both the wins and the losses records in Major League Baseball. When you pitch as many games as Young, you are bound to have losses. Same with Favre — throw that many passes are some are definitely going to end up in the other team’s hands. Bradley notes that Favre has more INTs than Manning and Joe Montana combined (seven more), but Favre also has way more passing attempts than either [2000 less than Montana and Manning combined]. Plus, it could be argued that Favre played on mediocre to bad teams during his productive years, while Montana and Manning really only played on bad teams very early in their career [i.e., Favre was asked to do more on bad teams than Manning or Montana]. So, you cannot hold that against Favre. But it still cannot be overlooked.
The consecutive starts at QB is impressive. But is it as impressive as Jon Runyan’s streak? Yes, 269 regular season games (291 including post-season) is impressive, but he is a quarterback! It is not like a punter and I know that Favre plays hurt and QBs do get hit, but there are a lot of provisions that protect and, to some degree, baby quarterbacks. But Runyan has 192 consecutive starts — at offensive tackle! That is a more physically demanding position and a more dangerous position (in terms of significant injury) than a quarterback. Offensive linemen tend to get overlooked in the grand scheme of things. Not me — hell, I argued that San Diego tackle Marcus McNeill should have won the 2006 Offensive Rookie of the Year over Vince Young. So, to me, Runyan’s streak is much more impressive than Favre’s streak.
Some believe that his leading the Packers to two Super Bowls — winning the first but losing the second — is sufficient enough to land him in the Hall of Fame. But since when does simply being the quarterback of a team to win a Super Bowl equal to a Hall of Fame career? I do not think that anyone is hyping up Trent Dilfer or Brad Johnson as Hall of Famers. It is more of the love affair with QBs.
Also keep in mind that Brett Favre could never lead the Packers past the Dallas Cowboys. I bring this up because it was the Cowboys who dominated the early 1990s. Behind Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith, the Cowboys proved to be Brett Favre’s kryptonite. The Cowboys took out the Pack in 1993, 1994 and 1995 (the latter being in the NFC Championship Game). In 1996, the Packers made it to the Super Bowl, but it was the Carolina Panthers that took out Dallas. In 1997, the Packers again avoided the Cowboys in the playoffs as Dallas failed to make it to the postseason. Point? It took the decline of the Cowboys (and the 49ers to a degree) for Favre to be able to lead the Packers to the Super Bowl. This is analogous to Michael Jordan’s retirement leading to teams not named the Chicago Bulls winning the NBA championship. The Packers ascension was simple because of the decline of the powerhouses. Favre and the Packers temporarily filled a void and subsequently that void of the Cowboys (and 49ers) led to the AFC finally claiming a Super Bowl again.
If anything should get Favre into the Hall of Fame, it should be his three regular season MVP awards. When used in conjunction with the above, that should be enough. But he is still overrated and a lot of that comes from his perceived likeability and the “kid in the playground” style of play that people and the media — especially ESPN — seem to love. He is not one of the top few quarterbacks to ever play the game and I agree with Bradley that he is not even the best Packer QB ever to play.
And yes, I could argue that Kurt Warner IS a better quarterback than Brett Favre. Warner has been to three Super Bowls with two different teams [Rams (win, loss) and Cardinals (loss)]. He has three of the top passing performances in NFL history and has a career passer rating and completion percentage that is not only better than Favre’s, but is also in the top three of all time. Yes, these are records that can be broken, but if people are going to use stats [host on FSR] to argue for Favre, than certainly the stats of someone with better numbers should be a ticket to Canton. And, keep in mind, Warner has not played in the NFL that long (when compared to Favre or even Manning [in terms of seasons as a starter]). I am not saying to extrapolate Warner’s numbers to match the number of seasons that Favre has played, just to think of what Warner has accomplished in such a short amount of time COMPARED to Favre.
Again, I do think that Brett will make the HOF and it will likely be deserving. But he is no doubted overrated when compared to his contemporaries and those that came before him. He has accomplished a lot, but he is overhyped by the media and is not near the top five in terms of all-time NFL quarterbacks. Maybe not even top ten.