Brett Favre is a Hall of Famer and Super Bowl champion and owns the longest ironman streak in NFL history – a stretch that’s likely to remain unbroken until the end of time. He’s truly one of the best quarterbacks to grace a professional football field, bringing a different style of play to the position – one that was exciting, unpredictable, and sometimes, downright eye-popping.
He made his living with the Packers, of course. However, he wasn’t drafted by Green Bay. It was the Falcons that were fortunate to land him in the second round of the 1991 draft (33rd overall). Atlanta, though, wasn't sold on the young, brash quarterback, so they dealt him to the Packers in 1992, landing a first-round pick in return.
It was decent compensation for a team that had just spent a second-rounder on Favre one year prior, but the lasting effects would be felt by both teams. As part of our 10-day series looking back at the biggest trades in NFL history, here are a few things you may not have known about it.
Favre threw more completions to the defense than he did to his teammates in Atlanta
You probably know Favre had a rough go of it in Atlanta. You know he played just one season before he was traded to the Packers and that his limited action in Atlanta was atrocious. But you probably didn’t realize just how bad it was.
Favre played just two games with the Falcons, both in relief duty. He didn’t complete a single pass to one of his teammates during that time, but he did throw two interceptions on four pass attempts.
He finished his career in Atlanta with a passer rating of 0.0, one sack, 0 yards and two picks. One of his interceptions was returned for a touchdown, capping off a 56-17 loss to the Redskins.
The Falcons started 16 different quarterbacks during Favre’s tenure with the Packers
Favre took over the Packers' starting job in 1992 after Don Majkowski suffered a severe ankle injury that would cause him to miss four weeks. Favre would never surrender the spot from that point forward, beginning what would be a historic streak of 253 consecutive starts in Green Bay and 297 starts overall.
During that span, the Falcons had their share of troubles at quarterback. In the time that the Packers started one quarterback (Favre), the Falcons had 16 different starters under center. They ranged from Wade Wilson to Michael Vick to Matt Schaub with Chris Chandler tying Vick for the most starts in that span (67).
Favre brought stability to the quarterback position in Green Bay that the Falcons never had after trading him. He won three NFL MVP awards and a Super Bowl and was named to 11 Pro Bowls after leaving Atlanta.
AFP/Getty ImagesSTEVE SCHAEFER
Falcons coach Jerry Glanville once said it would take a plane crash for him to play Favre
When the Falcons drafted Favre in the second round, head coach Jerry Glanville wasn’t on board. He was reportedly against the team selecting the gun-slinging quarterback 33rd overall – despite changing his tune recently – and he didn’t even try to hide that fact. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Glanville once said during an exhibition game that it would take a plane crash for him to put Favre in the game. That’s how against the decision Glanville was.
Obviously, that did nothing for Favre, who was already facing long odds to have any sort of impact in Atlanta. Former Falcons exec Ken Herock was the man behind the decision to draft Favre, but he didn’t control who played and who rode the pine. Glanville did.
Favre didn’t exactly help himself much either, rebelling against his head coach and acting a bit unprofessional. The quarterback even admitted this at one point: "I'm sure I didn't help my cause by trying to drink up Atlanta."
Herock admitted he doesn’t know why Favre was so immature at the time, saying Brett “had a big ego.” Glanville was a no-nonsense coach who wouldn’t put up with that sort of behavior, and it’s a big reason Favre failed in Atlanta.
Glanville didn’t agree with how the Falcons used the pick acquired for Favre
In exchange for Favre, the Falcons received a 1992 first-round pick . It was the second of Green Bay’s picks in the first round, which wound up being the 19th overall selection. Atlanta used it on running back Tony Smith, but Glanville wasn’t on board … again.
One year after reportedly disagreeing with the Favre selection, Glanville was once again spurned by the front office. He wanted a defensive back, namely a cornerback, with Deion Sanders one year away from free agency. Instead, the Falcons took a running back who didn’t fit Glanville’s style.
"Jerry always had to prove backs were tough enough," Ken Herock said. "This kid wasn't going to be a power, run-over-you guy. He was a make-you-miss. Jerry didn't like that, and in training camp, he literally almost ruined him ... beat him up.
"It was like every play, he wanted him to take a beating. We were going, 'Oh my God, this guy will never get through it.' The kid never did make it."
Glanville said it only took him 10 plays to realize Smith “couldn’t play dead,” admitting his discontent with the Falcons’ decision to go against his wishes. Smith went on to start just six games with the Falcons, scoring two touchdowns on 329 yards rushing. He didn’t receive a single carry after the 1992 season, shifting primarily to punt and kick returns for the next two years.
Ron Wolf tried to trade up for Favre while with the Jets in 1991
Ron Wolf joined the Packers in 1992 as their new general manager, which was great news for Favre. Wolf was enamored of Favre one year prior while with the Jets, holding the position of assistant to general manager Dick Steinberg. In fact, he had Favre rated as the No. 1 player in the 1991 draft.
Wolf wanted Favre badly in New York -- to the point he desperately tried to trade up ahead of the Falcons. Landing Favre was especially difficult for the Jets because they didn’t have a first-round pick, but they were still within striking distance in the second round.
New York, holding the 34th pick, failed to move up a few spots to get ahead of the Falcons at No. 33, forcing Wolf to watch his quarterback go one pick before his team went on the clock.
If the Jets had a first-round pick, or were selecting even one slot ahead of the Falcons, history may have been very different. He may have gone on to have a long, successful career in New York, changing the course of the NFL forever. Glanville, in 2010, said the results would have been similar to his time in Atlanta, though:
"If I would have traded him to New York, nobody to this day would have known who Brett Favre ever was."
AP Photo/Jim BieverJim Biever
Favre failed his initial physical with the Packers, but Ron Wolf overruled the doctors
As with every trade, a player has to pass a physical before it’s executed. Favre took his after the Falcons dealt him to the Packers, but the doctors recommended failing him, which should have brought an end to the deal before it could ever happen. The physical revealed that Favre had a condition called avascular necrosis, which is the same issue that ended Bo Jackson’s football career prematurely.
As concerning as that was, Wolf was blinded by his desire to finally land Favre one year after missing out on him in the 1991 draft. So much so that he overruled the doctors and went through with the deal, passing Favre.
"There wasn't any way," Wolf said of the possibility of failing Favre. "I was giving up a first-round draft pick for him. This is the guy I wanted. They said four or five years, I didn't care. It turned out there wasn't anything wrong with him."
Wolf was right: Nothing ever came of the condition four or five years down the road, as the doctors said it might.