This weekend is about celebrating Brett Favre – and why not? He’s by far the biggest name headed the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, bringing 71,838 passing yards and 508 TD passes with him. But there were plenty of times in Favre’s two-decade NFL career when he seemed anything but Hall-worthy. Before we spend the next few days drowning in Favre praise, let’s look at the times it felt like he’d never make it to Canton.
AFP/Getty ImagesVINCENT LAFORET
February 10, 1992 – The Falcons have had enough
Favre’s trade to Green Bay after one season in Atlanta has been stamped in Packers history as the day that rescued the franchise from two decades of losing, but at the time it seemed like the possible end of Favre’s chances to make it big in the NFL. The Falcons had drafted him one year earlier with the 33rd overall pick and he quickly fell out of favor with the coaching staff there when he became better known for his partying than anything he did on the field. The Falcons seemed like the winners when Green Bay GM Ron Wolf gave up a higher pick to get Favre (19th overall) than Atlanta spent on him a year earlier, and, given Green Bay’s track record, Favre seemed like just another long shot that wouldn’t pay off.
October 20, 1994 – Almost benched
Favre was 17-12 in his first two seasons as a Packers starter, but in 1994 Green Bay began the season 3-4 and there was serious talk – even a vote – among Green Bay’s coaches as to whether to bench Favre in favor of Mark Brunell, who later went on to do big things with the Jaguars. Brunell seeing the field could have meant the end of Favre in Green Bay, but coach Mike Holmgren – who had nearly broken Favre’s will with his constant criticism – took a good-cop approach after the vote and told Favre, “"We're joined at the hip. Either we're going to the Super Bowl together, or we're going down together."
Getty ImagesJonathan Daniel
May 14, 1996 – Checking into rehab
Favre was the 26-year-old reigning NFL MVP when he shocked the NFL world by calling a press conference to announce he would enter a drug treatment facility to battle an addiction to painkillers. He suffered a seizure in the hospital following ankle surgery, which prompted him to seek help, and he entered a rehab facility for 46 days. Favre erased any doubts about his future by leading the Packers to his only Super Bowl victory the next season, but his career and health were in serious jeopardy in the summer before that season.
Getty ImagesGeorge Gojkovich
January 13, 2002 – Six interceptions in a playoff loss
Favre had plenty of early-career playoff success with the Packers, but he had a few flameouts as his career wore on – none greater than in this. He threw a postseason record-tying six interceptions – three of which were returned for touchdowns – in a 45--17 Divisional Round playoff loss at St. Louis. As the game got out of hand, Favre grew more impatient with his passes, and the result was the most lopsided defeat in Packers playoff history.
January 20, 2008 – An icy final game in Green Bay
Favre led the Packers to the playoffs six times (and the Vikings once) after back-to-back Super Bowls in the 1996 and 1997 seasons, but he never made it to another Super Bowl. In his final game with the Packers – a bitter-cold NFC Championship battle against the Giants – the Packers had the ball in overtime when Favre inexplicably threw well short into heavy coverage and was intercepted. The Giants kicked a field goal and won a game in which the Packers were heavily favored, and Favre’s final game with the Packers ended in the worst possible way.
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August 7, 2008 – The Packers say goodbye
After several offseasons of waffling on his future plans, Favre retired and then unretired in the 2008 offseason. The Packers were in the awkward position of moving on with Aaron Rodgers as the starting QB throughout the spring when Favre changed his mind on the eve of camp, and there was no going back. Favre asked for his release when he discovered he wouldn’t be the starter, and the Packers ended 16 years of service by trading him to the Jets for a draft pick. Favre’s Hall of Fame credentials were all but cemented by the time he left Green Bay, but it’s never a good look to get sent packing by the team you starred for.
Getty ImagesMike Stobe
January 24, 2010 – One last big-game gaffe
Favre was mediocre in one season with the Jets before signing with the Vikings for the 2009 season and putting together a magical year. He led Minnesota all the way to the NFC Championship game against the Saints, but just like two years earlier with Green Bay he killed Minnesota’s chances to advance to the Super Bowl with an ill-advised late-game pass. The Vikings were in Saints territory with a chance to break open a tie game when his across-the-body throw was picked off. New Orleans won in overtime, and Favre’s next and final season with the Vikings wasn’t anywhere near as successful.