Favre impresses Gannon on several levels

Former Vikings quarterback Rich Gannon can relate to Brett Favre's desire to keep on playing. Gannon marvels at the physical abilities Favre still has and the parts of his game that have improved.

Brett Favre has impressed a lot of Vikings followers this year, and that list includes former Vikings quarterback Rich Gannon.

Of all the marks that Favre has this year – which include career bests in QB rating (107.2), completion percentage (68.4) and interceptions percentage (1.3) – that last statistic is the most impressive number for Gannon.

"You compare this year's number to what he did when he was MVP those years (1995-97), these numbers beat some of those numbers," Gannon said. "The thing that's really glaring to me is seven interceptions, his career low. … I think for him to be playing as well as he has and to continue to improve in certain areas of his game I think is phenomenal."

As a former NFL MVP himself in 2002 with the Oakland Raiders, Gannon knows the importance of the quarterback position. But he has also served as an occasional consultant for the Vikings, talking to the quarterbacks periodically when head coach Brad Childress has requested.

Gannon now looks back at the criticism Childress took while pursuing Favre as a free agent this summer and knows why he did it.

"I think you run out of words to describe the way (Favre) has played this year and what he's meant to this football team," Gannon said. "It's amazing all the criticism that was levied against Brad Childress back in training camp for making this decision and how it would impact this team and the locker room and his teammates. He's been everything they asked for and more and I just think the thing that really jumped out at me and really amazed me – when you think of 40 years of age and I know I played close to that – I just think that the way this guy is playing is at such a high level."

While Favre took his share of criticism for his public "waffling" over retirement, Gannon can completely relate. Favre is at the tail end of his 19th NFL season. Gannon played 17 seasons before he finally retired.

And Gannon would have come back for more if not for a broken neck that forced him into retirement after the 2004 season. The decision was made for him.

"Had I been healthy enough I would have come back and played because I still could do it and still play at a high level. And I still loved the game," he said. "It's hard, so hard, for players to walk away, particularly at that position, particularly players that can still do it, and do it at a high level.

"I think Brett sat back – and I talked to him probably a month before he made the decision and I can remember the conversation. He and I talked and I said when you look around the league there are teams out there that have decent players but yet, boy, the trigger, the guy under center, that ain't going to happen. They ain't going to get it done. I just think as I look across the league there are the haves and the have-nots. The teams that have the real productive guy at the quarterback position, that can be real efficient and give you a lot of consistency each week, and the ones that don't quite have that yet are still trying to find their way."

Favre said Wednesday that when he looked back at the film of Sunday's game, he still saw a quarterback that can move around well.

Gannon agreed, marveling at Favre's abilities to move in the pocket and the arm strength he still maintains despite biceps surgery during the summer.

"The guy has taken wonderfully good care of himself. He's really been a pillar of strength at that position. He's really been an ironman when you think about the amount of games he's played."

Favre broke the consecutive games played streak and consecutive starts streak this year. He's now up to 307 consecutive games, including the playoffs.

"The guy has been relatively healthy throughout his career and I don't think there's any question whether or not he can still move. He still has that mobility and agility back there, his quickness, his ability to escape pressure and get out on the edge, to extend plays with his legs," Gannon said. "The other thing is you know he can still spin it and throw the ball."

Gannon said the Vikings were confident in those abilities after they visited Favre this summer in Mississippi following his surgery.

But Gannon also sees some improvements in Favre's game that have little to do with physical abilities. It gets back to his lack of interceptions this season.

"There are times when you watched Brett and the things that made him great are some of the same things that I think held him back – sometimes he couldn't help himself. He has a great cannon of an arm, but sometimes he took unnecessary risks. He tried to stick it into some tight places sometimes," Gannon said. "When they got behind in games, he got overly aggressive. You watch this year and he just hasn't done that. I think it's a real testament to him that he's gotten better as he's gotten older.

"This guy is playing as well as he ever has."

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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