Brett Favre, What Made Him A Great Quarterback?

Selected in the second round with the 33rd pick overall in the 1991 NFL draft, Brett Lorenzo Favre began his professional football career with the Atlanta Falcons. He received very little playing time that first season, attempting just four passes and completing none of them. Two of them being interceptions. However, the Green Bay Packers had an interest in him and arranged a trade before the start of the 1992 season. Favre would go on to play 16 seasons for the Packers. During which time he would establish himself as not only one of the best quarterbacks of his era, but potentially of all-time.

Throwing Ability

Throwing ability is, in my opinion, the most important physical aspect of a quarterback. In order for a quarterback to be successful in the NFL he needs to either have great arm-strength or great throwing accuracy. Most NFL coaches are looking for quarterbacks that possess both of these attributes. As it were, Brett Favre did possess both. He was known to throw 70+ yard bombs in games and he has a pass completion percentage of 62% for his career. This may not seem like a mark worth boasting of, not with Drew Brees, Tom Brady, and Aaron Rodgers all surpassing it, but Favre played in a different era. The 1990’s and early 2000’s sported more of a smash-mouth style of football. The quarterback position was still highly valued, but they were also expected to stay in the pocket longer and be willing to take more hits. This would make some throws rushed or desperate, which resulted in more interceptions.

Brett Favre was very good at throwing with a side-arm motion. This style of passing can be hard on a person’s arm, but it does help keep the pass low. It can also give a pass some extra zip. This passing style is also easier to perform while on the run from defenders and it has a quick release. His skill with this throwing method gave Brett Favre more passing options. This is desirable because an offense can never be sure of what a defense has in store for them. There are many other quarterbacks in the NFL that can use this throwing method. However, Brett Favre took it to a level that few players could match.

Competitive Spirit/Playing Style

As well as playing in a more physical era, Brett Favre also played the game with an all-or-nothing mentality. He hated to give up on a play, often trying to make something happen. Unfortunately this lead to him trying to force passes at times. In turn, this sometimes meant he threw foolish interceptions. However, this mentality also lead to him making some fantastic throws. It also meant opposing defenses could never relax on him. They were always wary when he had the ball in his hands and the game was on the line. They knew he wasn’t the type to give up. He amassed a total of 43 game winning drives (5th all-time) and 28 fourth quarter comebacks.

This determined playstyle played a large role in him having a winning record in 15 of his 20 seasons. It also earned him a reputation as a “gunslinger.” He fired from the hip, making quick and daring decisions.

Endurance

Just like Favre refused to quit during a game, he also refused to give in to injury during his career. He logged an NFL record 297 consecutive starts during the regular season over the course of his career. That number jumps up to 321 if playoff games are included. Although he experienced quite a few injuries over the years, they were never serious enough to keep him sidelined. It should be noted that the types of injuries he experienced have kept other quarterbacks from playing. If he broke or otherwise injured a finger, Favre would simply tape it to another finger for support. If it was a foot injury he would simply play with less mobility.

Sometimes it can be unwise to play injured. After all, it means you cannot play at your full potential. This means you are less capable of helping your team win. Some quarterbacks choose to sideline themselves when injured for this very reason. However, Brett Favre’s competitive fire burned more fiercely than most. He wasn’t going to come out of a game unless he just couldn’t play. It is this competitiveness and determination that I believe help make a case for him being an all-time great quarterback.

Tolerance Of Extreme Conditions

I figured this deserved it’s own subsection. Believe it or not, but at one point in history NFL teams didn’t play games in indoor stadiums. They played in the open air, fully exposed to the elements. Playing in the NFC North Division with both the Packers and the Vikings meant playing in the cold and snow. Brett Favre did this far better than most other quarterbacks. His tolerance for frigid temperatures was surprising considering he grew up in Mississippi. During these games his playstyle didn’t change. He still took risks and did what he had to in an effort to extend plays and win the game. It was true smash-mouth football and provided me with fond memories.

Accomplishments

Over the course of his 20 seasons in the NFL, Brett Favre accumulated some impressive accomplishments. I have already mentioned his record 297 consecutive regular season starts, and that is arguably his most impressive record. However, Favre was also the first quarterback to pass for 500 touchdowns, totaling 508 for his career (4th all-time). He was also the first to pass for 70,000 yards, amassing a total of 71,838 (4th all-time). Favre also won three MVP awards and a Super Bowl during his time with the Green Bay Packers. He was also selected to 11 Pro Bowls. To top it all off, in 2016 he received the honor of being named to the NFL hall of Fame.

In Closing

Brett Favre had the physical tools to be a very effective quarterback in the NFL. His arm strength and throwing accuracy were consistently among the best in the league during his career. He also possessed an extremely competitive nature and physical toughness. Which allowed him to push through tough situations and injuries in an effort to help his team win. In my opinion, these traits along with his personal records place him in an important conversation. The conversation of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time.

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