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No player defined an organization quite like Brett Favre with the Packers. From his early days as a reckless gunslinger to his mastering of the west coast offense under Mike Holmgren, Favre was a one of a kind player that provided the game of football with some of its greatest drama.
Having grown up watching Favre play and seeing firsthand his impact on the fans in Northeast Wisconsin, I’ve managed to identify 10 moments that I believe best define his legacy as a Packer.
1. December 22, 2003: Win One for Dad
An injury didn’t nearly end Favre’s consecutive start streak at 204. Instead, it was the tragic death of his father, Irvin. On December 21st, 2003, Irvin Favre passed away after suffering a heart attack while driving near his home in Kiln, Mississippi. The Packers, in the midst of a playoff race, couldn’t guarantee that Favre would be able to start less than 24 hours after receiving the tragic news. Nobody, in fact, would’ve blamed him had he opted to end the streak to mourn the death of his father. But that wasn’t Irvin Favre’s way. And it wasn’t his son’s way, either. Favre made his 205th consecutive start against the Oakland Raiders in a must-win game for the Packers. He was magnificent, completing 22-of-30 passes for 399 yards and 4 touchdowns. The Packers won, 41-7. In the post game interview, Favre struggled to hold back tears as he talked about the love he had for his dad. On that night, we didn’t just watch a great football player thrive under the spotlight. We watched a son honor his father in the best way he could.
2. January 26, 1997: Super Bowl XXXI
The culmination of Favre’s professional career came less than 55 miles away from his hometown. The Packers capped off a season of dominance, defeating the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI. The 35-21 victory saw Favre throw for 2 touchdowns and run for another. Both touchdown throws displayed Favre‘s elite arm strength and accuracy. His first was an arching strike, hitting receiver Andre Rison in stride. The second was a laser down the right sideline to receiver Antonio Freeman. It’s the throw to Rison that has stood the test of time. Following the score, a childlike Favre ran across the field to the sideline with an ear-to-ear smile and his helmet hoisted in the air. That image of Favre will forever be enshrined in Packer and NFL lore.
3. September 20, 1992: The Legend Begins
Every tale has its beginnings. Against the Cincinnati Bengals in week 3 of the ‘92 season, quarterback Don Majkowski tore a ligament in his ankle. Off the bench came Favre, then a young quarterback the Packers had acquired in the offseason for a first-round pick. The second-year signal caller came out wild, launching missiles to the right, left and middle of the field. He managed to calm himself just in time to lead the Packers on a game-winning drive that ended when he threw a dart to receiver Kitrick Taylor for a touchdown with less than 20 seconds remaining. The score - and ensuing extra point that Favre served as holder - put the Packers up 24-23, and marked the first of many exciting moments for the quarterback and the fans of Green Bay.
4. December 18, 1994: Farewell to County Stadium
Starting in 1953, the Packers played two or three home games per year in Milwaukee County Stadium. That tradition ended in 1994 in dramatic fashion due to the heroics of Favre. With less than a minute remaining and needing a victory to keep their playoff hopes alive, the Packers were driving to win the game. After using their final timeout, Mike Holmgren told Favre on the sidelines to do everything but run for it. What does the young quarterback do? He scrambles, of course. Favre broke right and dashed for the end zone. As Falcons’ defenders crashed down on him he threw his body into the end zone, broke the goal line, and gave the Packers the lead with 15 seconds remaining. The Pack would go onto win the game, 21-17. They clinched a wild-card berth one week later against Tampa Bay.
5. January 6, 1996: Dethroning the Champs
Throughout the early ‘90s, the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys dominated the NFL landscape. They met in three straight NFC Championships, the victor going onto win the Super Bowl each time. The ‘95 season saw Green Bay and San Francisco each finish with 11 wins. The Packers, fresh off a wild-card victory over Atlanta, traveled to Candlestick Park for a showdown with the defending Super Bowl champions in the divisional round. Many predicted a blowout in favor of the heavily favorite 49ers, but thanks to Favre and a stingy defense, the Packers stood victorious at the end of the evening. The final score, 27-17, was closer on paper than the story told on the field. Favre put forth arguably the finest playoff performance of his career, completing 21-of-28 passes for 299 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Packers did lose the NFC Championship in Dallas the following week, but their victory in Candlestick put them on the NFL map.
6. September 30, 2007: Touchdown King
The 2007 season was a magical one for the Packers and a now graying Favre. The team amassed 13 regular-season wins for the third time in his career, and the former three-time MVP broke records along the way. He surpassed John Elway for the most wins by a starting quarterback, and he eclipsed Dan Marino’s records for most career passing yards and touchdowns. His chase of Marino’s touchdown record received most of the fanfare. In week 3 against the San Diego Chargers, Favre tied Marino’s touchdown mark at 420, when he found receiver Greg Jennings with two minutes remaining for the go-ahead touchdown. A week later, inside the Metrodome against the rival Vikings, it was Jennings again with the lucky draw. Favre, who called an audible at the line of scrimmage, connected with him in stride on a post route for the record-setting touchdown pass No. 421.
7. November 6, 2000: Monday Night Miracle
The night before the infamous 2000 presidential election saw one of the most remarkable plays in the history of Monday Night Football. In overtime, on a wet night against the Minnesota Vikings, Favre dropped back and lofted a pass in the direction of Freeman. The pass appeared to fall incomplete, but then Freeman got up and started sprinting for the end zone. Upon further review, it was apparent the ball never touched the ground. It deflected off Vikings cornerback Cris Dishman, landing on the left shoulder of Freeman, who somehow lodged the ball in the air and caught it inches before it hit the ground. The play was so shocking that it caused a stunned Al Michaels to famously shout, “He did WHAT!”
8. November 12, 1995: Bear Hunting
A week after the Vikings knocked Favre out in a devastating loss - known as the T.J. Rubley game in Packer lore - the Packers hosted the rival Bears at Lambeau Field. Favre, who had a severely sprained ankle, was a game-time decision. As if there was any doubt. The Packers quarterback trotted out onto the field on one good ankle. Rather than folding as many foresaw, he proceeded to slice and dice the Bears’ defense for the tune of 336 yards and 5 touchdowns. The Packers needed every one of those touchdown passes, as they narrowly defeated the Bears, 35-28. Favre’s performance left many prognosticators, especially broadcaster Matt Millen, hyping him as the league’s leading MVP candidate. Favre later won the award that season.
9. January 8, 1994: Favre to Sharpe
In Green Bay’s first postseason game in over a decade, the Packers faced off against the rival Lions inside the Silverdome. It was a rematch of the regular-season finale that saw Detroit steamroll the Pack. The game, which Detroit controlled until safety George Teague returned an interception 101 yards for a touchdown late in the third quarter, hinged on whether Favre could lead the Packers to a game-winning touchdown. With about a minute remaining, Favre rolled to his left and committed the cardinal sin of every NFL quarterback by throwing across his body. The Lions, unable to make a play on the ball, watched as it landed into the hands of a galloping Sterling Sharpe in the end zone. Touchdown Packers! At the time, it was Green Bay’s biggest victory since Super Bowl II.
10. October 29, 2007: Mile High Walk Off
A week 6 victory over Washington placed the Packers at a solid 5-1 and atop the NFC North standings. The defense carried the team, as the game was a defensive struggle. However, the performance of the defense wasn’t the biggest takeaway. Favre didn’t play well, throwing for a pitiful 188 yards and 2 interceptions. Both interceptions were the result of poorly thrown downfield passes, causing a reporter or two to speculate that Favre’s arm strength was beginning to fade. Favre, in fact, took offence to this notion. According to game commentator Ron Jaworski, during pre-game warm-ups, Favre stood with his toes on the 50-yard line and hit the pylon with the ball. Thankfully, Favre left plenty of energy for the game itself, connecting with James Jones in stride nearly 45 yards downfield on a 79-yard touchdown in the first quarter. The game went into overtime, where Mike McCarthy called for a walk off shot. Favre, off play-action, found Jennings down the left sideline for an 82-yard touchdown, giving the Packers a 19-13 victory. No reporter ever questioned Favre’s arm strength again.
Author's Note: Article orginally published on July 18, 2015.