|Looming touchdown, interception records put focus on Brett Favre's legacy|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 20 September 2007 11:00|
On the Green Bay Packers' second snap of the 1997 Super Bowl, Favre stepped to the line and saw that New England's defense didn't have either safety deep in coverage.
Favre quickly checked to ``razor,'' calling an audible that hadn't really worked all season and wasn't designed to be used with the group of players they had on the field. Favre just had to assume his receivers would figure out which routes to run.
``So all that was going through my mind at that particular point, on top of, 'I sure hope they're in the defense I think they are,''' Favre said. ``And it just worked out perfectly.''
Favre found Andre Rison for a 54-yard touchdown pass, a perfect moment in a career filled with soaring highs and forehead-slapping lows.
Statistics can't tell the whole story of what Favre has meant to the Green Bay Packers and the NFL. But it would be difficult to come up with a more telling illustration of Favre's go-for-broke style than this: On any one of the next few Sundays, Favre could break Dan Marino's career touchdown pass record AND become the NFL's most-intercepted quarterback.
Favre, who broke John Elway's record for most victories by a starting quarterback with his 149th career win at New York last Sunday, now needs four touchdown passes to break Marino's record of 420. And with three more interceptions, he'll pass George Blanda's more dubious career mark of 277.
Hall of Famer Troy Aikman, who covered the Packers-Giants game for Fox Sports, chuckles when asked about the possibility Favre could pass both marks in the same game. It would only be fitting, Aikman said.
``Knowing Brett like I do, he'd probably be unfazed by that,'' Aikman said.
Marino isn't surprised that Favre ended up in a position to break his record.
``When I first quit, I thought the only one out there who might have a chance would be Brett Favre,'' said Marino, who retired after the 1999 season and is now an analyst for HBO. ``He throws a lot of touchdowns - and he stays healthy.''
Marino said he considers Favre a worthy successor, just as he did when Peyton Manning threw 49 touchdowns in 2004 to break his single-season record.
``It's happening by guys that are really good players, guys who love the game,'' Marino said. ``And that's what it's really all about.''
As he's done in the past, Favre downplayed the significance of records this week and made no apologies for taking chances. He's also closing in on Marino's career records for attempts and yards passing, so Favre says it's only logical he would have a lot of touchdowns and interceptions.
``There have been some bad plays, some bonehead plays, whatever you want to call it,'' Favre said. ``But a lot of those good ones would not be there if it wasn't for taking a chance. For me, it has been well worth the risk.''
While there is no single record for quarterbacks that carries the significance of Barry Bonds passing Hank Aaron's career home run record, Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Marino's touchdown mark probably comes closest.
Favre laughed off any comparison to Bonds, smiling as he jokingly flexed his forearms to prove he doesn't quite measure up.
``I couldn't tell you how it's looked at,'' Favre said of the record. ``I know it's a lot of touchdowns. But if you play a long time, that means you're playing fairly well.''
Besides, Favre figures Manning will break it in a few years.
But Aikman believes the records must mean something special to Favre.
``I think the records are important to him,'' Aikman said. ``I don't know how they can't be.''
While touchdowns are flashy, Aikman thinks the career victories record is the one that matters most to Favre. And the one achievement everybody keeps coming back to is Favre's consecutive starts streak.
Favre is expected to start his 240th straight regular-season game on Sunday.
``That's impressive, man,'' Marino said. ``That's amazing.''
It's already a record for quarterbacks, and he'll tie former Vikings center Mick Tingelhoff for second on the career list on Sunday. Former Vikings defensive end Jim Marshall started a record 270 straight games.
``You're almost immune to the fact that he plays every day,'' McCarthy said. ``You don't even think about how tough he is because he's out there every day.''
Aikman considers Favre's starting streak untouchable.
``That's one that I just have a hard time looking at and saying that will ever be broken,'' Aikman said.
Given the body of work, Packers icon Bart Starr says Favre must be considered one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.
``He's earned all the accolades and tributes he's been paid,'' Starr said. ``Tremendous player. Best competitor I've ever seen.''
Starr, who lives in Alabama but will return to Green Bay for an alumni reunion and Sunday's game against the Chargers, says Favre means everything to fans.
``I think he's meant more than I have words to describe,'' Starr said. ``He's raised the level of expectations, excitement, beyond anything imaginable.''
With only one Super Bowl win and all those interceptions, it's tough to make the case that Favre is the single greatest quarterback of all time. But without taking chances on the field, Favre just wouldn't be Favre.
Besides, it makes for good stories.
Asked about his worst interception ever, Favre recalled once trying to throw a pass from his knees against Detroit.
``All I could think as I was throwing it was, 'This is going to be an unbelievable play. How many guys throw from their knees?''' Favre said.
Then-coach Mike Holmgren didn't exactly agree.
``Holmgren says, 'What in the hell were you doing?' And I said, 'I had him open,''' Favre said. ``He says, 'Had him open? You're throwing it from your knees!' And I could not convince him that I thought that was going to be a great play. So if you ask Mike, he'd probably say that was one of the worst. If you ask me, I'd say it was that close to being an unbelievable play.''