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As I See It

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4Ever #4

In my last column I thought I had written about football for the last time until the NFL draft gets going at the end of next month. I thought I could focus this week on March Madness and the upsets that have already occurred and what lies in store. Hey, Zags, what happened? Or maybe I could focus on Tiger’s five consecutive wins to start the season and that 25-foot putt on 18 last week to win it all. Or maybe I could begin to ramble on and on about the opening day of baseball season and make some early prognostications. But I can’t. I’m still reeling a bit from the news March 6, when Brett Favre held his press conference and officially announced his retirement from the Green Bay Packers.

Packer Nation, take a moment, breathe… everything will be alright… give it time…

Since then there has been so much in the press, in newsprint, online and on the airways, what more could I possibly add? Whatever I can say here will only be repetitive or redundant. But there might be some info here that is new to some and will give insight into a QB who was an inspirational leader to those around him and to those who watched him play on Sundays.

I realize that not everyone is a Brett Favre fan. I even have a friend that doesn’t like him… thinks he’s over-rated. (Hard to believe that I can even call him a "friend" with an attitude like that. I won’t mention any names but his initials are DA.) He focuses on the interceptions and sees the NFL record for career interceptions as Brett’s key stat. It is a stat, but to me not "key" to defining what he has meant to his team, the league and his legacy.

What is most amazing to me among all his stats, are the consecutive games started. 275. Why do they always write that he started 253 consecutive regular season games (275 including playoffs)? It’s 275 consecutive NFL games including the playoffs. Why separate out the 253? All the games the Green Bay Packers have played since the third game of the 1992 season have been led by only one man, Brett Favre. As a point of reference, the Chicago Bears have fielded 21 starting quarterbacks over that same 16-year time period. Twenty-one.

How hard is it to start 275 games as an NFL QB? Take Favre’s back-up, Aaron Rodgers, who looks to be an excellent replacement next year. In the two games he’s entered when Favre got injured mid-game, he himself got injured and couldn’t have started the following week if he had to. Two years ago Aaron came in during the last quarter of a game, got stepped on or tackled and broke a bone in his foot. This past year when Favre got injured during the Dallas game Aaron came in, did a great job in the loss, but pulled a hammy in practice and was out for the next three to four weeks. Fortunately, Favre only injured his throwing shoulder and elbow and had numbness and tingling in his throwing hand. Ha! No problem, the feeling came back to his hand mid-week and was fine to start the following game.

I just want to say here and now that it’s a crock to mention the consecutive start record of a punter or kicker in the same breath as an every down player – a quarterback or defensive lineman, such as Brett Favre or Jim Marshall. That’s just a bunch of hooey. The kicking game in football is a non-contact aspect of the sport. It’s kinda like a DH in baseball. You get up to the plate three or four times a game, swing at pitches, and if you get a hit run the bases. But you don’t go out on the field to play any position, you go back to the dugout and rest. You sit a lot and wait for your next turn. Doesn’t that sound nice and cozy?

When I think of Favre I think of: longevity, excellence, fortitude, courage, determination, competitiveness, loyalty, fun-loving, inspiring, durability, strength. He represents many attributes that we can look up to and strive to achieve in our daily lives; in business and in our personal lives among family and friends.

He played for 16 years straight for the Packers, since September 27, 1992, taking them to consecutive Super Bowls and winning one. He won three consecutive NFL MVPs (I doubt we’ll ever see that again in our lifetime), and should have been the MVP of the Super Bowl they won. In that game he passed for two touchdowns from audibles he called at the line of scrimmage, didn’t throw a pick, and later in the game ran for a touchdown in a 35 – 21 victory. Yes, Desmond Howard (Super Bowl MVP) played brilliantly as punt and kickoff returner and scored a touchdown, but, I also say that without Favre at QB, the Packers lose to the Patriots in that game.

He has set the bar for all the significant passing records in the NFL: Touchdowns with 442, completions 5,377, attempts 8,758, yards 61,555 and most importantly, wins with 160. Here are some other NFL all-time stats not as widely known: He is the NFL’s most accurate passer among those with at least 6,000 attempts, his 61.4 career completion percentage places him above No. 2 Dan Marino’s 59.4 percent. With 63 games with three or more touchdown passes, Favre also placed just ahead of Marino’s 62 on the NFL’s all-time list. He also has the most seasons with 300 or more completions, 16, and the most seasons with 3,000 or more yards, 16.

Favre consistently disdained talk of stats throughout his career, concerning himself most with his team’s victories. Since taking over as the Packers starter in the fourth week of the 1992 season, he led Green Bay to a 160 – 93 regular-season record, #1 in the NFL over that period. Not only has Brett re-set the record books for individual achievement, but he also led the winningest team in the NFL during his ride at the helm.

Although I still get a lump in my throat when I talk about Brett and his remarkable career, and when I think of not seeing #4 behind center next year, I’m glad he made the decision when he did. He went out on top. Playing a brilliant 2007 season and leading the Pack to the NFC Championship game, (however losing to the Giants in overtime) was a great way to end a great career. He played brilliantly both physically and mentally.

That can’t be said for many other great football legends who continued playing after their skills had diminished. Legends like Joe Montana, who left the 49ers after Steve Young was named the starter, and played for the Chiefs for two forgettable seasons. Or, Johnny Unitas who finished his career with the Chargers and looked old and feeble on the field, a shell of what he once was. Or in Dan Marino’s final year, playing on those bad knees that were supported by huge braces, looking as though those legs might break upon getting hit. Those players were painful to watch in their final year. Not so with Brett, as his final year, aside from his Super Bowl Championship season of 1996 – 97, was his finest year ever.

Thank you Brett for all that you have meant to the Packer Nation these past sixteen years. Thank you for that last minute victory over Detroit in December 2005 at Lambeau Field that I was fortunate enough to see in person with my son. Thank you for allowing us to peek into your world and witness your inspiring actions on and off the field for these past 16 years.

Sundays in the fall will never be the same.

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Scott Johnson Scott Johnson I was born a poor German child in the suburbs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin on a cold April eve in 1958, on the heels of the greatest event in the history of the state: the hiring of Vincent T. Lombardi to the Green Bay Packers. Hence began my love affair with the game of football and my team in green and gold. Due to my father’s (100%) disability with MS, we moved to sunny San Diego, CA in the summer of 1968 to escape the bitter cold of those Wisconsin winters and its negative effect on my Dad's disease. While in San Diego I found not only my love for beautiful beaches and beautiful girls, but also for the stage. From junior high through college at San Diego State University, I was performing and directing in three to five theatrical productions per year. Between theatre and football I managed to squeeze in distance running as an avocation, competing in numerous 10k races, half marathons and finally the San Diego Marathon. Realizing that the chances of becoming a fabulously rich and famous actor were few and far between, I decided on an advertising career in the newspaper business as my vocation. I began at a weekly publication, then a daily, then the #1 monthly senior publication in the country, Senior World Newsmagazine, where I became their Regional Sales Manager. Looking for a “quality of life” change for our family, my wife I found Sandpoint, Idaho in 1993 and moved here with our son in 1994. I worked for the Daily Bee and then in the car business before finding my niche as Director of Sales and Advertising for Keokee Creative Group in 2001, where I remain today. In the Fall of 2006, Trish found my knowledge of sport, my gift of gab and my theatrical spin on life in the sporting world a match for the River Journal, and I’ve been writing my sports column ever since. Still waiting for that call from Sports Illustrated, though. Of course now that Ric Reilly has retired, maybe there’s a chance…

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