Dubious distinction for Favre?

Brett Favre is poised to break a few major NFL records this season, but the Packers star quarterback also is expected to top George Blanda's all-time interceptions record, possibly before the others. PackerReport.com's Matt Tevsh explains why interceptions and Favre's greatness go together.

Brett Favre is always in the spotlight, even during the NFL's off-season. This Sunday he will host his annual celebrity softball game at Fox Cities Stadium just outside of Green Bay to raise money for his foundation.

In less than two months, the attention on Favre will shift from a more local focus to a national one as he enters his 17th NFL season attempting to chase down some of the game's greatest passing records. Marks set by quarterbacks Dan Marino and John Elway, once thought mind-boggling large, are expected be re-written by Favre thanks to an incredible combination of durability and production.

While Favre's consecutive starts streak would be considered perhaps his most impressive mark, a majority vote might not agree with the following opinion of what should be a close second.

All-time passing yards? Strike one.

All-time touchdown passes? Strike two.

All-time wins? Strike three.

The viable question is: "What record is left?" Well, Favre has at least two other major categories (passing attempts and most seasons leading the league in touchdowns) to run down in 2007, but the one which will best represent who he is as a player is the all-time interceptions mark.

Just five errant throws to the other team by Favre this regular season will put him ahead of George Blanda (277 interceptions) at the top of the all-time list. The mark just might be the first of many set by the three-time MVP in what could be an historic season.

To suggest such a dubious distinction would rank high among such highly-regarded records would seem to present a skewed evaluation. Memories of unbelievable touchdown passes and comeback victories are the moments etched in Packers' fans minds, but to remember the essence of Favre – the player Ron Wolf took a chance on, the gunslinger playing style, and the never-give-up attitude – is to put his mass of interceptions into proper perspective.

Favre has always been an equal opportunity employer when it comes to playing quarterback. He gives other teams seemingly three to four chances every game to snare interceptions. Such play is the reason coaches like Mike Holmgren and Mike Sherman aged considerably during their tenures in Green Bay.

Still, had Favre not taken such chances, the Packers would not have become the team that won a Super Bowl in 1996 or had an unrivaled streak of winning seasons from 1992-2004. Had he played a style of football that many quarterbacks play today, Mark Brunell or Matt Hasselbeck might still be in Green Bay.

As much as Holmgren molded Favre into one of the game's greatest, he never really was the big coach's type of quarterback. Holmgren got Favre to understand more than change, and that served the Packers well enough to make for a magical journey. Through it all, Favre always stayed true to himself. That is his most endearing quality.

Favre's whole career, whether in life or football, has been interceptions. The drinking problems, the Vicodin addiction, the near-benchings – there have always been temporary setbacks. His life and personality are a microcosm of how he plays and how he throws. Just look at his mechanics. They have never been textbook, though, no one coach has tried to change them. Likewise, his decisions have not always been the most efficient or smartest with each play.

With each Favre misstep, though, the creation of a man and a winner came into being. So while Favre's three- and four- and dare it be said, six-interception games (see 2002 Rams' playoff game) have frustrated coaches and fans alike, they have provided a thrilling ride. They have made the wins that much sweeter, the touchdown passes that much more exciting, and the passing yards merely part of the process.

The list of Favre's great games is long and unforgettable, but one that flies under the radar was a 1998 game against the 49ers at Lambeau Field which illustrates the point of this commentary. Like a heavyweight boxing match between two legends, the game was full of momentum swings. It was the one of the ultimate chess matches during Favre's career pitting not only two of the NFC's best teams at the time, but two of the game's best-ever quarterbacks (Steve Young started for the 49ers). Still, it will never be mentioned among Favre's top 10 games.

For the record, Young was more efficient on the day while Favre provided the drama. Within the first six minutes of the game, he threw touchdown passes of 80 and 30 yards to put the Packers ahead 16-0 before the 49ers ever knew what hit them. Shortly after, roaring cheers would turn to groans. Favre would throw three unspeakable interceptions within a seven-minute span, allowing the 49ers to take a 22-19 lead late into the third quarter.

While any other quarterback would have been down and out against such a formidable opponent after such a horrible sequence of events, Favre kept firing. His 62-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Freeman in the fourth quarter was the game-winner on an incredible afternoon of highs and lows that kept fans talking at the water cooler on Monday morning.

Fellow Packer Report scribe W. Keith Roerdink summarized Favre's performance that day perfectly in just one sentence penning, "Sometimes salvation and damnation reside in the same jersey."

That motto has had Packers' fans on the edge of their seats for the past 15 years. What really makes Favre special is that he is so different than all the other great quarterbacks. Touchdown passes, passing yards, and wins will always be used in today's fantasy-league driven sports world for comparison purposes, but one statistic more than any other bucks that system when it comes to Favre. Interceptions tell his story better than any of the others and for that, his "chase" to Blanda's record should not be looked at negatively.

Editor's Note: For more details on Favre's run to history and ranking the top records in Packers' history, check out the September season preview issue of Packer Report magazine due out later this summer.

Matt Tevsh

Matt Tevsh is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com and Packer Report. E-mail him at matttevsh@hotmail.com.

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