Favre makes stars out of teammates

Brett Favre will make $13 million if/when he plays in 2010, but his presence will certainly help make his teammates a lot of money in the future. He did that for receivers in Green Bay who were never stars elsewhere and elevated the games of several offensive teammates in Minnesota last year.

There's something to be said about being special.

Beautiful women don't get speeding tickets. Even a state trooper on a quota is going to warn a gorgeous woman. No harm. No foul.

Rich people can buy their way out of trouble. Ever notice that Kennedys don't do prison time for crimes "ordinary" citizens of are convicted of every day and sent up the river? It's good to be special.

As Vikings fans learned less than 11 months ago, Brett Favre is special.

With all the accolades Favre has received, the one aspect of his career that has been unsung and, for the most part, unreported by the media has been the ripple effect he has made with his teammates. When it comes to being special, there is something called the "It Factor." Nobody can truly describe "It." You can't manufacture "It." If you don't have "It," chances are you never will. But those who have "It" know they have "It" and that is what separates them from the peers.

It's hard to find a former Favre teammate who will go on the record as badmouthing him as a teammate. A couple of Jets popped off, but it's funny that after spending almost two decades with the Packers, none of his Green Bay teammates would join in the chorus. Why? Because he was the best thing that happened to many of them.

Assistant coaches became head coaches thanks to the consistent success of the Packers with Favre at the helm. Just about every quarterback coach he ever had got promoted and just about every offensive coordinator moved on to be a head coach at some point. The same was true for his teammates.

Favre had a penchant for taking receivers under his wing, making them stars and making them a lot of money. When he arrived in Green Bay and became the starter, he already had a star receiver named Sterling Sharpe. In the first three years together, Favre completed more than 300 passes to Sharpe and 42 of them went for touchdowns. When Sharpe called it quits after the 1995 season, Robert Brooks caught 102 passes for 1,497 yards and 13 touchdowns. When Brooks went down to injury in 1996, Favre made a star of Antonio Freeman, a third-round pick in 1995. With Freeman and Brooks established as starters, he made a star out of tight end Mark Chmura. When Chmura got too old, Bubba Franks became one of the top red zone threats in the league. When both Brooks and Freeman reached the end of the line, Favre made a star out of fourth-year man Donald Driver – a seventh round draft pick in the 1999 draft. He then made a star out of 2002 first-round pick Javon Walker. When Walker was traded during the 2006 draft, the Packers used one of their second-round picks to take Greg Jennings. Before Favre left Green Bay, he made Jennings a star.

The one thing all of them had in common was that, before they hooked up with Favre, they were players who hadn't distinguished themselves as can't-miss talents. Once they did find Favre, they ascended to the top of their respective receiving positions. And, to a man, they all were eventually rewarded with big-money contracts. Because Favre helped make them stars.

They weren't alone. Guys like Dorsey Levens, Ahman Green, Edgar Bennett, William Henderson, Keith Jackson and Bill Schroeder all made significant money out of being a favorite target of Favre. He turned decent players into players the organization didn't feel they could be without, thus earning all of them millions of dollars in salary.

In his first season with the Vikings, nothing has changed. Before he arrived in Minnesota, Visanthe Shiancoe was quietly viewed as an average player. While he became a scoring threat in 2008 with Gus Frerotte as his QB, hooking up with Favre turned him into one of the most explosive scoring threats in the league – leading the Vikings with 11 touchdown catches.

Sidney Rice was something of a disappointment in his first two seasons in Minnesota when he couldn't get away from injuries. With his health and with Favre, he became a Pro Bowl talent, catching a team-high 83 passes for 1,312 yards and eight touchdowns.

Percy Harvin was viewed as the biggest boom-bust prospect of the 2009 draft and the old veteran decided to take the 21-year-old rookie under his wing and made him more than just the explosive kicker returner he was envisioned to be. Harvin ended up catching 60 passes, scoring eight touchdowns (six receiving and two on kickoff returns) and won the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award.

In addition, Favre made Chester Taylor an attractive target for the Bears to offer huge money to in free agency, Bernard Berrian a consistent downfield target and, for the first time in his career, Adrian Peterson into a receiver as well as a rusher.

As he approaches his second season, Favre's legacy may well end up being getting huge contracts for guys like Rice and Shiancoe and setting up players like Harvin and Peterson for contract extensions. Long after he is gone from Minnesota, some of his teammates will be making millions as a result of him being here.

While you can't define the "It" Factor Favre has with his teammates, one thing seems obvious. The $13 million he makes this year is going to pale in comparison to the millions he is going to make guys like Rice, Harvin and Shiancoe in the future and the hundreds of millions he was more than partially responsible for making for guys like Freeman, Brooks, Chmura, Franks Driver, Walker and Jennings.

He's been a walking version of an economic stimulus package – making a lot of people a lot of money wherever he has played. The Vikings are just the latest to realize his economic impact. If he helps lead the Vikings to the Super Bowl, he may also be the billion-dollar man that helps get a stadium deal done to assure the Vikings never leave Minnesota.

It's great to be special and Favre is "It."


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