Favre still has plenty to accomplish

Brett Favre has made it clear through his new and improved off-season workout regimen that he intends to be fit enough to play beyond the 2005 season. Why not? The star quarterback has gotten over the hump of a difficult time in his family life and says he is focused on football more than ever before. Plus, he has a few major NFL records within reach.

That may not be great news for Aaron Rodgers, but it is for the Green Bay Packers and their fans. Unless Favre suffers a career-threatening injury, or the Packers win the Super Bowl, expect him to play for a couple more seasons.

Favre announced in March that he plans to play at least one more season. Favre says that he has been able to overcome a number of personal tragedies in his life over the past 17 months and is more excited about football than ever before. Favre's wife, Deanna, diagnosed with breast cancer last fall has had success with treatments. The Favres also have had some time to adjust after the deaths of Irvin Favre (heart-attack) in December of 2003 and Deanna Favre's brother, Casey Tynes (ATV accident), last September. Favre also was hit hard emotionally by the sudden passing of Reggie White last December.

"Unfortunately, everyone loses a loved one and everyone goes through tragedies. That's life," Favre said. "We all have our share of problems and I'm no different. It all depends on how you handle things.

"We have learned to turn setbacks and tragedies into positives."

Favre, 35, accepted suggestions from coach Mike Sherman and quarterbacks coach Darrell Bevell and worked with a personal trainer at his Hattiesburg, Miss., home in late April and May. Favre had stopped working out extensively in recent off-seasons.

"We talked to him about the fact he doesn't take off and run as much as he used to," Bevell said. "I just told him, 'I don't think it's because you can't. I think it's because you're out of shape. You get tired.'

"I'm not saying he was out of shape; he just wasn't in peak shape. He agreed, and said he's going to come in in better shape. It could add a couple more years to his career."

There are plenty of reasons why Favre will continue to play beyond the 2005 season, led by his passion for the game. The fact is, Favre can still put enough juice on his passes to break receiver's fingers. He may not be as mobile as he once was, which isn't saying a whole lot, but he is still highly respected by opponents. He led one of the top offenses in the NFL last year and was a Pro Bowl alternate.

By playing two to three more seasons, Packers fans will have a chance to watch Favre stretch his ironman streak and close in or surpass some NFL records that some may have thought would never be broken. Favre is currently third on the all-time QB wins list with 135, behind only John Elway (148) and Dan Marino (147), after moving past Fran Tarkenton (125) in the opening week of the 2004 season. Favre also is 44 touchdown passes shy of Marino's league record of 420. Favre is only 24 shy of becoming the second player in league history to throw for 400 TDs. These records are realistically within reach for Favre if he plays two more seasons.

Favre is the epitome of a competitor. He's also humble. While he'll downplay breaking any kind of record, don't think for a minute that it doesn't mean anything to him. Since Favre entered the league, he has often said that he wants to be remembered as the best quarterback ever to play the game. He is often mentioned as one of the best, but not THE best be national analysts. A few others always seem to get mentioned before Favre, like Elway, Marino and Joe Montana. A true competitor never wants to be remembered as the second or third best among his peers.

Favre is in the twilight of a Hall of Fame career, but he wants to finish strong and lead the Packers to the Super Bowl. As he sweats it out preparing for the 2005 season, there's no limit to what he and the Packers can accomplish in the next two seasons.

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