Sweet 16: The best of Brett

From amazing throws to astounding accomplishments to a Super Bowl victory, PackerReport.com's Steve Lawrence provides 16 career highlights for Brett Favre, who announced on Friday that he will return for a 16th season with the Packers.

With three NFL most valuable player awards and a name worthy of its own chapter in the league's record book, whittling Brett Favre's career accomplishments to a simple top-10 list is no small challenge.

So I cower from that challenge, and provide for your reading pleasure my top-16 list of favorite Favre moments.

No. 16: Favre announced his return for a 16th season with the Green Bay Packers on Feb. 2, 2007. Speaking for Packers fans, thanks for not dragging this deep into the offseason, like you did last season, when you finally declared your intentions until just days before the draft. The Packers, no doubt, are happy, too, so they are better able to plot a course for free agency and the draft.

OK, now on to the good stuff.

No. 15: Favre can't run like he used to, and his vertical leap isn't too impressive either, but an indelible moment from last season was Favre's 1-yard touchdown run against Arizona on Oct. 29, 2006, which he celebrated with his first Lambeau Leap. "Donald (Driver) provoked me," he said. "I was actually coming off the field and he was kind of one of these in my way and ‘Oh, no, you're going.' I wish he had given me a boost. I'm going to catch heat for this until the next game, but I should have found a lower spot. I'm not real savvy in the stands-jumping department, not to mention that I was pooped."

No. 14: En route to winning his third straight MVP – this time shared with Detroit's Barry Sanders — Favre was lights out in the red zone during the 1997 season, with 24 touchdown passes without an interception. Also that season, he broke Bart Starr's franchise record of 152 career touchdown passes.

No. 13: Favre became the second player in NFL history with 400 touchdown passes when he hit Greg Jennings for a 75-yarder at Detroit on Sept. 24, 2006. He will enter next season with 413 touchdown passes, seven shy of Dan Marino's record 420.

No. 12: How tough is Favre? During the Oct. 3, 2004, game against the Giants, Favre was nailed by New York defensive linemen Keith Washington and William Joseph. A woozy Favre suffered a concussion and was out for the day, but not before sneaking back onto the field long enough to throw one pass: a 28-yard touchdown pass to Javon Walker.

No. 11: It came in a losing cause, but Favre started his 117th consecutive game on Nov. 7, 1999, against Chicago to set an all-time record for quarterbacks. "I'm sort of numb, I guess," Favre said. Talk about numb: He's more than doubled that figure since then, and takes a 237-game regular-season streak into the coming season.

No. 10: The 1999 season under Ray Rhodes was a failure, but it got off to a rousing start. Favre injured his right thumb during the preseason, an injury that hampered him all season. But in the season opener – after reinjuring the thumb -- Favre hit Jeff Thomason for a 1-yard touchdown with 11 seconds to beat the Raiders. After the game, an emotional Favre broke into tears and apologetically walked out of his postgame news conference. Two weeks later, he hit Corey Bradford for a 23-yard touchdown with 12 seconds left to beat the Vikings. Two weeks later, he hit Antonio Freeman for a 21-yard touchdown with 1:05 remaining to beat Tampa Bay. "This time I didn't hyperventilate because I just couldn't believe it," Favre said after beating the Buccaneers. "This time, I didn't cry because I'm out of tears. I'm tired of laughing. I'm sure most of the people in the stands and you (media), too, are going, ‘Damn. What the hell?'"

No. 9: Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle proclaimed Nov. 29, 2004, as Brett Favre Day, with the quarterback starting his record 200th consecutive regular-season game. Favre had a big night with three touchdown passes in a 45-17 victory over the Rams. It marked the 36th consecutive game he threw a touchdown pass, a streak that would end the next week at Philadelphia.

No. 8: It's a record that stands for his brilliance, toughness and longevity. On Dec. 17, 2006, Favre completed a 21-yard pass to Carlyle Holiday to break Dan Marino's career completions record of 4,967. "I'm thankful that I've had a chance to play this long and have an opportunity to break a record that's been held by a guy like Dan Marino," Favre said. "That's quite an honor."

No. 7: Favre has a history of not only playing, but thriving, through pain. A week after badly spraining his left ankle against Minnesota, Favre threw five touchdown passes, matching a team record and beating the Bears 35-28 on Nov. 12, 1995. "He probably studied more this week than usual because he couldn't do the physical stuff," quarterbacks coach Steve Mariucci said.

No. 6: Playing in monsoon-like conditions on Halloween Night 1994 at Chicago, Favre – one week after exiting a game for the first time of his career with a bruised hip – dashed 58 yards for a touchdown in a 33-6 romp.

No. 5: What a way to end an era. In the final game the Packers played at Milwaukee County Stadium, Favre ran around right end and dived head-first into the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown with 14 seconds left to beat Atlanta 21-17 on Dec. 18, 1994. The victory kept the Packers' playoff hopes alive. "The whole season was carrying on my shoulders," Favre said.

Nos. 4a and 4b: In hindsight, Favre's entertaining career shouldn't be surprising. His first pass completion was to himself, when he caught a deflected pass for a 7-yard loss in his Sept. 13, 1992, debut against Tampa Bay. Then, a week later, he replaced an injured Dan Majkowski and heaved a game-winning, 35-yard touchdown pass to Kitrick Taylor with 13 seconds left to beat Cincinnati. "I couldn't bear to look. I just closed my eyes and waited for the crowd to let me know," Favre said.

No. 3: This might be the greatest clutch pass in NFL history. In the Jan. 8, 1994, NFC wild-card playoff at Detroit, the Packers were trailing 24-21 in the final minute. Favre was pressured, rolled to his left and then saw a streaking Sterling Sharpe running open down the right sideline. Favre's perfect 40-yard touchdown pass probably traveled 65 yards in the air. It was Favre's first playoff victory. "I think when Brett rolled left, the defense was reading his eyes and they drifted to their right," Sharpe said. "Brett looked over and made a great throw."

No. 2: Hollywood couldn't have written this script. One night after his father, Irv, died, Favre threw for 311 yards and four touchdowns in the first half alone, and the Packers destroyed Oakland 41-7 on "Monday Night Football" on Dec. 22, 2003. "He's not only a teammate; this is Brett Favre. He is the Green Bay Packers. He's us and we're him," center Mike Flanagan said.

No. 1: Favre was at his fundamentally flawed best in Super Bowl XXXI against New England. On his first throw of the game, Favre audibled to a 54-yard touchdown pass to Andre Rison. Favre was shuffling to his left and threw off his back foot with a three-quarters sidearm flick. The pass was perfect, Favre ran off the field with his helmet thrust in the air, and the Packers were on their way to a 35-21 victory and their first championship in 29 years. "We never had a doubt that we would win this ball game," he said.

It was a perfect ending to an MVP season in which he spent part of the offseason being treated for his addiction to the painkiller Vicodin.

"You know I'm going to beat this thing," Favre said during a news conference before the start of the season. "I'm going to the Super Bowl. All I can tell people is if they don't believe me, just bet against me."

 

 Lawrence is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com. Send comments to steve_lawrence_packers@yahoo.com.


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