Is Brett Favre Really Overrated?

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.

Looking for someone to high five.

Looking for someone to high five.

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.


4 thoughts on “Is Brett Favre Really Overrated?

  1. Here is what I posted in Bradley’s comments section to anyone that things Warner may be better than Favre:

    “And to anyone that takes Kurt Warner over Favre. You do realized the Warner and Favre are practically the same age. The reason Favre has started 291 consecutive games including playoffs while Warner has struggled to stay as a starter is because Warner really isn’t that good. Warner rides good talent around him like Bruce, Holt, Faulk, Boldin, and Fitzgerald. Outside of 5 seasons, yes just 5 seasons, Warner has been a terrible journeyman QB. You can’t be called anywhere near the top 25 if you struggle remain as a starter during your prime years.

    How about we have a little fun with this Warner vs. Favre comparision. During Warner’s 5 BEST seasons, he averaged 31 TD’s and 4122.4 yards per season.
    During Favre’s 5 best seasons IN THE 2000’s (his overrated years as most of you like to say), he averaged 29.8 TD’s and 3836.6 yards.
    Ok everyone, I guess your right, Warner is better than Favre, I mean his 5 best seasons are so much better than Favre’s 5 best overrated 2000 seasons (*Sarcasm*).
    So plz, I hope not to hear anymore of this Warner better than Favre nonsense, because even in his best years he was hardly better than Favre’s overrated, washed up years.

    Just for reference: Favre’s 5 best seasons averaged 35.4 TD’s and 4062.4 per season. You might say that isn’t that much better than Warner’s, the difference though is that only 1 of those seasons came from the 2000’s (2001). What does that mean exactly, that shows that the overrated Favre has been consistently putting up great numbers throughout his career. If I chose 4 more seasons out of Warner’s career the numbers would not be pretty.”

    Also, the reason Favre is an Hofamer is not because of any one thing, it is because of everything combined. Favre has the stats, the wins, the ring, the tangibles, the longetivity and consistency, and the MVPs. To think that people consider Favre a Hofamer for one reason or another is idiotic. People look at overall ability of QB, not just one thing and that is exactly what Warner lacks, overall power. Warner has spurts of greatness, but Favre has consistent greatness, that is the difference.

  2. kaz;

    thanks for the comment.

    i agree with your overall point. the problem is that in the end, you make the same point i make. i stated that “[i]f 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.” the problem i have is (1) people simply using stats to prop up a player — it is more than that; (2) Super Bowl victory by a QB is not an automatic ticket; (3) the overhype by the media fuels his “legacy” and calls for his greatness. it is not one thing as each of those individually are unimpressive. it is the combination of all of his accomplishments.

    as far as Kurt Warner, i was utilizing the stats argument that people use with Favre to do the exact same thing with Warner. that was the point. do i really believe Warner is a better QB than Favre? no. but it could be argued that, based on career stats and given his short playing career in the NFL [compared to Favre], Warner had a more HOF worthy career. as for the age, that is irrelevant because they had different beginnings to their NFL careers. that is like people celebrating that LeBron is the youngest ever to reach x number of points without noting that the players before him did not all begin their NBA career at 18. i guess we could use Warner’s AFL and NFL Europa stats……..

  3. ah but Warner did begin his NFL career around the same time as Favre, he just got cut from training camp (some guy named Favre had become the starter).

    And how does Warner have a more HOF worthy career base on career stats and a short career, those would be detractions against Warner. His stats are only good in a few great seasons which are canceled out by the same amount of ineffective and injury shortened seasons. I mean he was benched for Eli for god’s sake. Favre’s career stats shows consistency, Warner’s shows inconsistency. Inconsistency in my mind is not HOF material.

    My problem with you article is that you seem to assume people use only stats to call Favre a HOFamer, which is definitely not the case. Favre has been called a first ballot HOFamer for years now, long before he accumulated the records. The majority of people look at Favre and see a great overall QB, the whole package, not just stats or MVP’s.

  4. so if a kid works at a Jack-in-the-Box as a 16-year old, quits, then goes to college without working another day until after graduation when she lands a nice job and begins accumulating wealth, does that mean that she began “working” and building her wealth at the same time as say the 16-year old high school drop out? no. that is like saying Michael Jordan played 19 seasons rather than the actual 15 (well, 14 and 1/4). nevertheless, there is still a three year difference in start times AND a considerable gap between when Favre started and when Warner became a starter.

    what set me off on this rant is the single-minded argument that some, including the host of the FSR program i heard, make when propping up certain athletes — in this case Brett Favre. did i claim that EVERYONE does that? no. but people who simply use stats as the only way to a ticket are blind.

    last…and i do mean last cause i have mentioned it twice now…IF someone were to use stats to argue for Favre, then the same could be done with Warner.

    people DO use stats (or the SB victory) to prop up Favre as a first-ballot HOF. certainly not all and i never claimed that ALL people do that [read it again]. if more of Favre’s “Night at the Improv” act on the field led to more failures (i think some people look at when it works and think he is a genius) — and admittedly it did fail on some occasions) — then i think there would be less love for Favre PRIOR to the records. to me, even as a fan of Favre, i consider him a good quarterback who is still worthy of the Hall. “great”? not quite sure about that.

    ANYWAY, i understand your concern. the main thing is i appreciate you reading the blog — even if you disagree and it seems to bother you. thanks for the comments.

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