"I'm here to help the Jets win."
Brett Favre, August 8, 2008
But little did anyone realize exactly HOW Favre could help the Jets win - then and now.
Favre led the Jets to an 8-3 start in the 2008 season. But when Favre selfishly put his NFL consecutive game streak ahead of his new team by hiding a shoulder injury, the Jets crash-landed with a 1-4 finish and missed the playoffs. Packer fans were thrilled with their change of fortune, as Aaron Rodgers filled the void by becoming a standout QB in his own right. And the draft pick the Jets "traded" brought LB Clay Matthews to Green Bay, who is quickly becoming a defensive star for the Pack. Addition by subtraction: Favre Style.
Favre has helped the Jets to success as well. The Jets fired head coach Eric Mangenius, who was responsible for allowing the "Favre Over Team" mantra to destroy the Jets 2008 season. Rex Ryan stormed into New Jersey and led the Jets to the AFC Conference Championship game in 2009, with rookie QB Mark Sanchez. Favre escaped to Minnesota where he led the Vikings to the NFC Conference Championship game - and added yet another big-game interception meltdown loss to his Hall of Fame credentials.
Despite all of his glowing accolades and personal achievements, Favre's last decade has included SIX playoff meltdowns. The first occured on January 20, 2002 when the Packers suffered an infamous 45-17 NFC divisional playoff loss to the St. Louis Rams. For Favre it was a great day - he threw for 281 yards and five touchdowns. Unfortunately for the Packers, three of his TD passes were caught by Rams defenders. The "Greatest Quaterback Ever" tied a playoff record by throwing six interceptions in the game.
The following season, the division-winning Packers suffered their first ever home playoff loss to the Atlanta Falcons 27-7. Favre threw two interceptions and lost a fumble, adding a meaningless fourth quarter touchdown to prevent an embarrassing home shutout.
January 11, 2004 is better known in Philadelphia as "4th-and-26", but Donovan McNabb's historic completion only tied the game at 17 at the end of regulation. The Eagles won the overtime toss, but needed Favre's help to drive to victory. After failing to score on the first drive, Favre connected with Brian Dawkins for his first and only completion of the overtime period. Three plays later a field goal propelled the Eagles into the NFC Championship Game.
After losing twice to the Packers during the 2004-05 regular season, the Vikings posted a 17-0 lead in the Wild Card playoff matchup of January 9, 2005. Closing the gap to 17-10, Favre's fourth interception of the first half was returned deep into Packer territory, leading to another Vikings touchdown. After the ensuing kickoff, the Packers drove to Minnesota 8-yard line, but while scrambling around looking for an open receiver, Favre threw an illegal forward pass instead of easily running for a first down. The division winning Packers eventually lost 31-17 to the Wild Card Vikings.
Favre's final "Packer" meltdown is near and dear to New York Giants fans: January 20, 2008. Big Blue travelled to Green Bay for the NFC Championship, tying the Packers at 20. The Packers won the overtime coin toss and received the ball. On the second play from scrimmage, Favre found the Giants' Corey Webster wide open, which set up the Giants game-winning field goal and 23-20 victory.
New Orleans fans will be forever grateful for Favre's efforts in last year's NFC Championship. His late fourth quarter interception prevented the Vikings from kicking a potential game-winning field goal and the teams headed into the overtime period tied at 28. The Saints did not need any further help from Favre, winning on the first drive of sudden death on their way to their first Super Bowl victory in team history. Speaking of history, Favre's two picks in the game broke the all-time individual postseason record for interceptions thrown.
This Monday, the "Greatest Quarterback Ever" returns to New Jersey. Favre hopes the recent addition of Randy Moss to the Vikings roster will turn around a dismal Vikings start, while the Jets look to convince football fans that they are for real. What is shaping up to be one of the biggest Monday Night Football games ever has Jets fans hoping Favre's selfishness and poor decision making will propel the Jets to victory. His track record proves that in big games he IS the man - so long as you're rooting for the team he is playing, not the team he is leading.