The timing of the announcement was also not surprising. The Chicago Bears are playing the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLI. Favre has had some of his greatest moments against the Packers' chief rivals, da Bears. Favre has also had some of his greatest moments against Tony Dungy. Finally, the Colts' Peyton Manning is the one QB that might one day approach some of Favre's records.
It was against those Bears on New Year's Eve that Favre showed the football world that he still had plenty left in his tank. He moved around the pocket and threw the ball down the field like the Favre of 1996 in a 26-7 thrashing of this year's NFC representative in the Super Bowl. It was also after that game at Soldier Field, where Favre is 12-2 lifetime vs. the Bears, that Favre had his tearful post-game interview. Some like John Madden speculated that the interview was a sure sign Favre was retiring.
To me it was a sure sign about how much Brett Favre loves the game of football. A sure sign about how much Favre loves to compete. A sure sign about how much Favre loves his teammates. Favre wept because he knew how much he would miss those things when he left the game for good. But the time to leave is not now.
The Bears certainly wouldn't mind if Favre retired. Overall, Favre is 22-8 against Chicago. The Bears have won three divisional titles since Favre arrived in Green Bay in 1992. The Packers have won six. No one else besides Favre has started under center in Green Bay since 1992, while the Bears have had 20 different starting quarterbacks. The Bears have finally arrived at the big dance that Favre has played in twice, once winning. But even on this great weekend for Chicago, Favre's shadow still looms with the announcement of his return.
Dungy knows all about Favre. When Dungy coached the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, they were big divisional rivals of the Packers when both were in the then NFC Central. Favre played Dungy's Bucs 13 times, winning 9 of those games, including the infamous 1997 playoff game. That was the game where Favre went helmet to helmet with DT Warren Sapp during the course of the game. The Packers went on to win 21-7 that day, but the Favre/Sapp rivalry really came of age that day.
Peyton Manning has a chance to get the monkey off his back this weekend. He won a big game vs. the Patriots in the AFC championship game, but now he needs to win THE big game. All quarterbacks are measured by this. Favre has a ring. Dan Marino doesn't. Both are two of the best that ever played, but no Super Bowl ring has to haunt Marino. Manning has a chance to catch Favre and Marino in terms of records. Manning has started 144 straight games under center. But that still puts him 93 games behind Favre's incredible 237 straight. Manning would need another six years of starting to catch Favre, and that's only after Favre finally hangs up his cleats.
Manning also has 275 career touchdown passes. He trails Favre by 139 and Marino by 145. If Manning averages 25 TD passes a year for the next six years he could catch Marino. But what will Favre's final TD pass number be? Favre now has 414 touchdown throws. He could throw another 20 to 25 in 2007. And 2007 may not be his last year. Time will tell, but when it is all said and done, Favre will have a lot of records that will be VERY difficult to catch. This list will include consecutive starts at QB, career wins, career TD passes, career completions and also most likely career yardage.
Yes, the Bears and the Colts will play for the Lombardi Trophy on Sunday. Peyton Manning will try and get his ring. Most experts are picking the Colts, but I definitely think the Bears could surprise, especially because of their big play defense and special teams.
No matter what happens Sunday night in Miami, the weekend will be a super one because of Favre's announcement to return. It's super for the Green Bay Packers. It's super for the NFL. And it's super for anyone who loves sports and loves to compete. Favre is the epitome of a competitor. At 37, he still plays with the zeal of a child and it rubs off on players and fans alike.
That's why his return is Super.
Bob Fox is a frequent contributor to PackerReport.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.