Brett Favre: A Gunslinger Revealed

A young Brett Favre takes a snap while in college at the University of Southern Mississippi.
A young Brett Favre takes a snap while in college at the University of Southern Mississippi. | Allen Steele/ALLSPORT/Getty Images

Brett Favre was born and raised in a small town in Mississippi. His parents were elementary school teachers that lived in Kiln, an area that was heavy with French influence. Brett was the second of four boys, all of which were involved in sports as children. Brett was especially notable, playing both baseball and football at a high level.

Eventually, Favre decided to stick with football. The University of Southern Mississippi was the only college to offer him a scholarship in the sport, so that’s where he ended up. Originally, Favre was way down the depth chart early in his freshman year at USM. But his trademark rocket arm helped him earn favor in the eyes of his coaches, and early in the season he found his way into the starting lineup.

In four years of college, Favre’s numbers as a quarterback were mediocre at best. He completed just 52.4% of his passes with 52 touchdowns and 34 interceptions — including just seven touchdowns and six interceptions his senior season. In his sophomore season, Favre led the Golden Eagles to a 10-2 record and a win over UTEP in the Independence Bowl.

Despite the questionable stats, scouts saw Favre’s arm as having major potential. That caused him to get drafted number 33 overall by the Atlanta Falcons in 1991, which didn’t please the head coach of the Falcons, Jerry Glanville, much at all.

1991 & 1992

Quarterback Brett Favre of the Green Bay Packers looks to pass the ball during a game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Quarterback Brett Favre of the Green Bay Packers looks to pass the ball during a game against the Philadelphia Eagles. | Rick Stewart/Getty Images

In his first year in the NFL, Favre was the third-string QB behind Pro Bowler Chris Miller and backup Billy Joe Tolliver. Miller was just 26 years old and in 1991 he had a passer rating of 80.6 — a good rating at the time — with 26 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. So it was curious at best why the Falcons felt the need to draft Favre with such an early draft pick.

Despite his status on the depth chart, Favre did make it into a few games. His very first pass as a professional was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. Overall, he finished his rookie year throwing four passes with two interceptions and zero completions.

After the season, the Falcons dealt Favre to the Green Bay Packers in exchange for their first-round pick, which Atlanta used on running back Tony Smith — who rushed a total of 87 times in his career and played until 1994. In his early time with the Packers, Favre again found himself behind a starter on the depth chart. Don Majkowski would only last two games into the season, however, as head coach Mike Holmgren benched him in favor of Favre at halftime during their second game of the season.

Favre’s first pass as a Packer — and the first completion of his NFL career — actually went to himself. After rolling out to his right, Favre’s pass was batted into the air by a Tampa Bay Buccaneers lineman and picked out of the air by the quarterback, who was taken down for a seven-yard loss on the play. Favre started the final 13 games of the season for the Packers, completing 64.1% of his passes for 3,227 yards, 18 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, and an 85.3 passer rating. That was good enough for him to make his very first Pro Bowl.

Favre went 8-5 in his starts, but that left the Packers at 9-7 overall and outside of the playoffs. The upside, however, was that it was clear they’d found their franchise quarterback.


Brett Favre runs to pass the ball during a game against the Chicago Bears.
Brett Favre runs to pass the ball during a game against the Chicago Bears. | Jonathan Daniel /Allsport

In his second season as a starter, things didn’t go quite as well for Favre. The Packers started 1-3 on the season with consecutive losses to the Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings, and Dallas Cowboys. Through the first four games of the season, Favre had just four touchdowns with five interceptions and a 69.5 passer rating. Things weren’t looking great, to say the least.

But he rebounded a bit, as did the Packers. Favre finished the year with 60.9% on completions with 3,303 yards, 19 touchdowns, 24 interceptions, and a passer rating of 72.2. But this was the early ’90s NFL, so those numbers were actually good enough for Favre to make his second Pro Bowl team. Green Bay finished with a 9-7 record yet again, but 8-4 after their ugly start to the year. That was good enough to get them into the postseason for Favre’s first ever playoff game.

Playing in Detroit against the division-winning, 10-6 Lions and running back Barry Sanders, Favre had an excellent game. He was 15-for-26 passing with 204 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. That was good for a 105.3 passer rating. Sanders rushed for 169 yards, however, and the Lions held a late lead in the game, 24-21. But Favre hit wide receiver Sterling Sharpe for a 40-yard touchdown pass to put Green Bay ahead for good, winning the game 28-24.

Moving on to play the Dallas Cowboys, things didn’t go as well for Favre and the Packers. They took an early 3-0 lead, but Dallas scored 17 points in the second quarter to take a 17-3 halftime lead. It would never get close enough for the Packers to have a chance at winning after that, with Troy Aikman’s Cowboys taking the game by a score of 27-17. Favre would finish with two interceptions on the day with 331 yards and two touchdowns — both of which came during a late comeback after falling behind 24-3.


Quarterback Brett Favre of the Green Bay Packers during the Packers 10-9 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Quarterback Brett Favre of the Green Bay Packers during the Packers 10-9 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. | Todd Warshaw /Allsport

Prior to the season, Favre got new money to stick around with the Packers. He signed a five-year, $19 million contract that would take him through the 1998 season. After making just $757,000 in his previous season, this was a really big break for the 24-year-old quarterback.

But again, the Packers got off to a rough start in 1994. Heading into a late-season matchup with the Chicago Bears, the Packers were just 6-7 on the season and the postseason was looking like a long shot. But the Packers beat the Bears, 40-3, with Favre going 19-for-31 passing with 250 yards and three touchdowns. Green Bay won their final two games of the season to finish at 9-7, one game behind the 10-6 Minnesota Vikings and in the playoffs along with the Bears.

Favre had an excellent season, overall. Although he didn’t make the Pro Bowl, despite having much better overall stats than the previous season, he did have 3,882 passing yards, 33 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, and a passer rating of 90.7.

Once again, the Packers opened up the playoffs against the Lions. This time, however, the game was played at Lambeau Field due to a tiebreaker for the two 9-7 teams. It wasn’t Favre’s best game, going 23-for-38 with 262 yards and no touchdown passes, but it was effective enough for the Packers to win. They took a 13-3 lead into the fourth quarter and ended up winning 16-12. Green Bay absolutely bottled up Sanders on the ground, seeing him rush 13 times for a one-yard loss.

After beating the Lions again, the Packers moved on to play the Cowboys. Dallas was coming off its Super Bowl victory in 1993 and was looking to make it back-to-back wins in ’94. They jumped all over Green Bay early in the game, building a 21-3 lead in the second quarter. This one would end up being a blowout, with Favre going just 18-for-35 with 211 passing yards and an interception. He finished with a 58.2 passer rating on the day, not coming close to match Aikman’s 121.1 rating.

While the Cowboys would go on to fall short of the Super Bowl, losing the NFC Championship Game to the San Francisco 49ers, the Packers were left to go home for the offseason and try to figure out how to beat the Cowboys.


Brett Favre focusing during a game.
Brett Favre is one of the best to ever play. | Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

It wouldn’t be easy, but the Packers would finally win the NFC Central division under Favre for the first time in 1995. They would again get off to a mediocre start, heading into a big matchup with the Chicago Bears at midseason. The Packers were just 5-4 while Chicago was 6-3 at the time. The Bears had a 28-21 lead late in the game, but Favre led the Packers on a comeback — he threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Robert Brooks and then a 16-yard touchdown pass to Edgar Bennett to steal the game, 35-28.

Green Bay finished the season 11-5, ahead of the 10-6 Lions and 9-7 Bears. The Cowboys were the best team in the NFC once again, with a 12-4 record. The Packers rolled into the playoffs feeling confident, having won six of their last seven and facing the Atlanta Falcons on their home turf.

Favre had his best season yet in ’95, finishing the season as a Pro Bowler and making his first First-Team All-Pro selection. He led the NFL in passing yards (4,413) and touchdown passes (38) while throwing only 13 interceptions and compiling a passer rating of 99.5. He was named the AP NFL MVP winner, beating out a deserving candidate in Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith.

Against the Falcons, Favre was precise and wasted little time. He was 24-for-35 passing with 199 yards and three touchdown passes, lifting the Packers to an easy 37-20 victory. That would bring on a fairly big test for the young quarterback, facing the Super Bowl champion 49ers on the road in the divisional round of the playoffs.

The Packers took an early 14-0 lead and never looked back, with Favre getting the best of San Francisco quarterback Steve Young. While Favre went 21-for-28 passing with two touchdowns and 299 passing yards — probably his greatest playoff performance to date — Young was just 32-for-65 with two interceptions. The 27-17 victory pushed the Packers and Favre into their first NFC Championship Game, but again facing off against the Cowboys.

Their effort wouldn’t be enough. The Packers took a 27-24 lead into the fourth quarter in Dallas, and things were looking up. Favre had thrown three touchdown passes and Green Bay was just minutes away from putting the game away. But the Cowboys scored a touchdown, taking a 31-27 lead. With the ball in Favre’s hands, he made a key mistake in throwing an interception at midfield with 10 minutes to go.

It took Aikman and the Cowboys just two plays to score again, making it 38-27 and essentially sealing up their victory. The Cowboys went on to win their second Super Bowl in three years while the Packers had to figure out how to deal with the frustration of being eliminated by the same team three years in a row.


Quarterback Brett Favre of the Green Bay Packers celebrates with tight end Jeff Thomason during Super Bowl XXXI against the New England Patriots.
Quarterback Brett Favre of the Green Bay Packers celebrates with tight end Jeff Thomason during Super Bowl XXXI against the New England Patriots. | Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The Packers would be even better in 1996, and Favre would be great again as well. Green Bay blew away the competition, finishing number one in both points per game and points allowed. That was good enough for them to earn a 13-3 record on the year, losing only three road games to the Minnesota Vikings, Kansas City Chiefs, and the pesky Dallas Cowboys.

Favre won his second consecutive AP NFL MVP award, finishing with 3,899 passing yards, an NFL-best and career-high 39 touchdown passes, just 13 interceptions, and a passer rating of 95.8. His best game of the year came in the season opening in Tampa Bay, when Favre completed 20-of-27 passes for 247 yards with four touchdowns in the Packers’ victory over the Buccaneers. He was a First-Team All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection yet again.

The Packers drew the 49ers in the divisional round, having earned the bye week in the wild-card round. Thanks to an early punt return for a touchdown by Desmond Howard, Favre and the Packers built an early 21-0 lead and absolutely rolled to a 35-14 win over Steve Young’s Niners. In the game, Favre was an efficient 11-for-15 with a touchdown pass.

In the NFC Championship Game the Packers lucked out and were able to play the Carolina Panthers, who just the week prior had taken care of the Cowboys. It was the break they so badly needed. Favre was 19-for-29 passing with 292 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception in a game that was close early but saw the Packers pull away late. Green Bay finally made it back to the Super Bowl with a 30-13 win over the Panthers.

And awaiting them in Super Bowl XXXI would be Drew Bledsoe and the New England Patriots. Green Bay was a heavy favorite, going against a Pats team that had finished the regular season just 10-6. Two touchdowns by Bledsoe gave the Patriots an early 14-10 lead, but Favre could not be stopped. He hit wide receiver Antonio Freeman for an 81-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter, giving Green Bay the lead for good.

Favre ran in a two-yard touchdown later in the game to push the lead to 27-14, and a 99-yard kickoff return touchdown by Howard sealed the victory. Favre was 14-for-27 with 246 yards and two touchdowns. Howard took home the MVP, but Favre and defensive end Reggie White played major roles in the victory.


Brett Favre of the Green Bay Packers looks on during the game against the Denver Broncos.
Brett Favre of the Green Bay Packers looks on during the game against the Denver Broncos. | Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Coming off their big Super Bowl victory, the Packers dug in and prepared to make another run at it in the NFC. They started the season as one of the heavy favorites, with the 49ers and few others viewed as major competition. Green Bay again went 13-3, with Favre providing more great moments along the way. He threw five touchdowns in a victory over the Minnesota Vikings and threw three touchdowns in a comeback victory in Week 7 against the Chicago Bears.

On the year, Favre finished with 3,867 yards passing with 35 touchdowns — again leading the NFL in that category — and 16 interceptions with a passer rating of 92.6. That was good for making the Pro Bowl, being selected to the First-Team All-Pro for the third year in a row, and winning the AP NFL MVP award for the third consecutive season.

And he didn’t stop with the regular season. In the Packers’ first game in the playoffs against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Favre didn’t exactly have his best game — he was 15-for-28 with 190 passing yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. But the Packers won the game and advanced to the NFC Championship Game against the 49ers, which is the most important stat.

The Packers defense held down Young and San Francisco, keeping the quarterback from throwing any touchdown passes and limiting him to a passer rating of just 69. Favre, on the other hand, threw for 222 yards and one touchdown in the 23-10 victory. That win vaulted Green Bay to their second consecutive Super Bowl, this time against John Elway and the Denver Broncos.

Denver was one of the surprise teams of the 1997 season, with few expecting that they’d make a run all the way to the Super Bowl. Favre played well in Super Bowl XXXII, throwing three touchdowns and compiling 256 passing yards. He outperformed Elway in just about every way, with the Broncos QB posting a 51.9 passer rating. But running back Terrell Davis rushed for 157 yards and three touchdowns, which put the game away.


Quarterback Brett Favre of the Green Bay Packers celebrates a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins.
Quarterback Brett Favre of the Green Bay Packers celebrates a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins. | Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images

Things started well for the Packers in 1998, going 4-0 in the first quarter of the season. But a mediocre 7-5 finish to the year, along with a stretch from Favre that saw the QB throw nearly as many interceptions as touchdowns, sank Green Bay’s hopes of getting back into the Super Bowl.

They finished 11-5, which was still good enough to finish second in NFC Central division behind the 15-1 Vikings and earn a wild-card spot in the playoffs. But things came to an end for Green Bay a bit quicker than they were used to. The wild-card game was in San Francisco against the 49ers, and it was a close one. Favre hit Antonio Freeman for a touchdown that put the Packers ahead, 27-23, with just two minutes to go in the game. It looked as though the Packers would escape with a victory.

But Steve Young marched his team down the field, hitting Terrell Owens for a touchdown with just eight seconds left on the clock to steal the game, 30-27. It was one of the most memorable wins in 49ers history, which is unfortanate for Favre and the Packers. Labeled “The Catch II,” it was the moment that truly put Owens on the map in the NFL.

“The better pass is the T.O. pass,” Young answered. “Because against the Packers, let’s face it, it’s the last play of the game and you’ve got to go to the end zone.

“You’ve got to move people around, and they’re not going to move around because there’s nowhere to go. So to get some kind of movement from LeRoy (Butler, a Packers safety) and get movement from Darren (Sharper, the other safety) that shouldn’t be there, (it) is the toughest job.”

1999 & 2000

Brett Favre throws a deep pass.
Brett Favre throws a deep pass. | Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Favre saw a slip in his own play in 1999 after hitting the age of 30. It was his second season in a row not making the Pro Bowl, and in general the regression and overall mediocre performance of the team were cause for concern after Favre won three consecutive MVP awards from 1995-97. He started all 16 games, which he’d done every year since his second season with the team, and threw 22 touchdowns with 23 interceptions. Favre completed a career-low 57.3% of his passes with 4,091 yards and a passer rating of 74.7.

The Packers still had a shot at the playoffs after a win over the Bears moved them to 7-5, but three consecutive losses pretty much ended any shot they had at winning a wild-card spot. Green Bay finished at 8-8, missing the playoffs for the first time since Favre’s first season with the team.

In 2000, the mediocrity continued. The Packers started 2-4 and they looked like they’d be on their way to an under .500 season. Things got turned around and the Pack finished 9-7, but it wasn’t good enough for them to make the playoffs once again. For the second season in the row, Favre had a sub-par performance — 20 touchdowns, 16 interceptions, 3,812 passing yards, and a 78 passer rating.

Shortly after the NFL season ended, Favre and the Packers made a big announcement about his future with the team. Despite having three years left on his previous contract extension, the two sides agreed on a 10-year, $101 million deal — which was the first nine-figure contract in NFL history. Favre, of course, was reserved as always about signing the massive deal.

“I don’t think it will ever affect my play,” Favre said. “My first year, when I made $300,000 … You know, I’m one of those guys who enjoys playing the game and have always said that regardless of what I make, I’m going to play it one way. And I really mean that.

“And people, they may roll their eyes at that, they may not. But that’s me. It’s over and done with today and we go on and play football.”


Brett Favre playing in the snow.
Brett Favre playing in the snow. | Source akahodag/

Starting the 2001 season coming off missing the playoffs twice and signing that “lifetime” contract, Favre and the Packers had high expectations. They bounced back in a big way, going 12-4 on the season. However, the Chicag0 Bears finished 13-3 — despite losing twice to the Packers — and won the NFC Central division, relegating the Packers to a wild card spot despite their excellent record.

Favre bounced back too, making the Pro Bowl and finishing the season with 3,921 passing yards, 32 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, and a passer rating of 94.1. Green Bay opened the playoffs against the San Francisco 49ers and quarterback Jeff Garcia. The game was tied at 15 late into the fourth quarter, but a field goal by kicker Ryan Longwell put the Packers up 18-15 in a game they’d eventually win 25-15.

Favre was very good, going 22-for-29 passing with 269 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. That pushed Green Bay into the divisional around against the St. Louis Rams, who had gone 14-2 in the regular season and were the favorite to win the Super Bowl. The game was tied after the first quarter, but in the final three quarters it was an absolute beatdown by the Rams. St. Louis outscored Green Bay 38-10 over that time, including two interceptions their defense returned for touchdowns off of Favre in the span of less than 30 seconds.

In the end, Favre threw two touchdown passes but six interceptions, a playoff-worst for his career. It was an embarrassing finish to the season for the Packers, but it was an uphill battle against the high-powered Rams offense in the first place. Head coach Mike Sherman stood behind his franchise quarterback, however.

“He’s had a hell of a year,” Sherman said. “Today wasn’t one of his best days. That’s the way it goes.”

2002 & 2003

Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre warms up before play against the Philadelphia Eagles
Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre warms up before play against the Philadelphia Eagles. | Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

In 2002, the Packers once again finished the regular season with a 12-4 record, and this time it was good enough to finish number one in their division — now called the NFC North. Favre again had a good year, throwing 27 touchdowns with 16 interceptions, 3,658 passing yards, and a passer rating of 85.6. His best game of the season came against the Chicago Bears in Week 5, when Favre was 22-for-33 passing with 359 yards and three touchdowns, good for a passer rating of 133.3.

The Packers went into the wild card round of the playoffs against the Atlanta Falcons, who finished a very mediocre 9-6-1 in the regular season. But Favre had a stinker in the playoffs, throwing two interceptions and finishing the game with a passer rating of 54.4. The Packers fell behind early, trailing 24-0 at halftime and losing the game to Atlanta by a score of 27-7. Favre yet again made the Pro Bowl, but didn’t take home any major awards.

In 2003, the Packers would spend much of the season fighting for playoff positioning. While the Minnesota Vikings would start the year 6-0, the Packers would be 3-4 after Week 7 — putting them 3.5 games out in the division. That would seem to be tough to overcome, but thanks to a major stumble by the Vikings the Packers were able to steal the division with a 10-6 record.

Favre was selected to the Pro Bowl yet again in ’03, leading the NFL with 32 touchdown passes, accumulating 3,361 passing yards, and totaling a passer rating of 90.4. His most memorable game, and one of the most memorable of his career, came against the Oakland Raiders on Monday Night Football. Favre’s dad had died of a heart attack just the day before, and he still went out and continued his consecutive-game record.

Not only that, but Favre was magnificent. He went 22-for-30 passing with 399 yards and four touchdowns in beating Oakland 41-7. Even Raiders fans appreciated the performance, which left Favre with tears rolling down his cheeks.

When playoff time rolled around, Green Bay drew the Seattle Seahawks in the wild card round. Despite having the exact same record as the Packers, the game was held in Green Bay due to tiebreakers. Seattle was up, 20-13, late in the game, but Favre led his team on two great drives that ended in one-yard touchdown runs by running back Ahman Green. The game went into overtime, where Packers defensive back Al Harris intercepted a pass from Seattle QB Matt Hasselbeck and ran it back 52 yards for the game-winning touchdown.

The Packers moved on to face the Philadelphia Eagles, and things looked good when Favre hit on two touchdown passes in the first quarter and took an early 14-0 lead. But things fell apart with the Packers struggling to score from then on, and the game went to overtime, tied at 17-17. It was there that Favre made a crucial error. Starting from his own 32-yard line, Favre threw an interception on his first play of the overtime period, which set up the Eagles for what would be the game-winning field goal.

2004 & 2005

Brett Favre rolls to his right to look for a receiver
Brett Favre rolls to his right to look for a receiver. | Chris Wilkins/AFP/Getty Images

In 2004, it would be the Vikings again taking an early lead over the Packers in the division. Minnesota starter the year 5-1 to the Packers’ 2-4, sitting three games ahead after six games played. But once again, it was not meant to be for the Vikings. They’d finish out just 8-8, while Green Bay would once again take the division with a less-than-stellar 10-6 record.

The now-35-year-old Favre was stellar once again. After posting a passer rating of 86 through those ugly first five games, Favre had a passer rating of 95.4 over his final 11 — leading Green Bay to a 9-2 record. He’d finish the year with 4,088 passing yards, 30 touchdowns to 17 interceptions, and a rating of 92.4. He wouldn’t make the Pro Bowl this season or win any major awards, however.

In the playoffs, the Vikings — who snuck into a wild-card spot — would get their revenge. Traveling into Green Bay, Minnesota jumped all over Favre’s squad with a 17-0 lead before the first quarter was even over. Favre had a rough game, throwing four interceptions and just one touchdown pass, and the game never was close. The Packers lost, 31-17, and their season was over.

With Favre turning 36 and Green Bay needing to find the answer at quarterback when he retired — which most thought would be within a few seasons — the Packers used the 24th overall pick in the draft to take quarterback Aaron Rodgers. It was a test for Favre, who didn’t take well to Rodgers at all.

But the rookie had to sit and wait his turn, and Favre was still going strong on his consecutive games streak. Unfortunately, his season in 2005 didn’t go well. Favre finished with just 20 touchdowns to 29 interceptions, throwing for 3,881 passing yards and a passer rating of 70.9 — the worst of his carer.

Even worse than that was the overall season for the Packers, which finished at 4-12 — their first sub-.500 season since 1991. Green Bay missed the playoffs and the team was left to ponder its future, with the young and talented Rodgers waiting in the wings with a clearly declining, soon-to-be 37-year-old Favre blocking him.

2006 & 2007

Brian Urlacher of the Chicago Bears talks with Brett Favre of the Green Bay Packers.
Brian Urlacher of the Chicago Bears talks with Brett Favre of the Green Bay Packers. | Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Things went better in 2006 for the Packers, but not a ton better for Favre. The team started 4-8 and was well on its way to another poor season. The Bears ran away with the division, eventually making a trip to the Super Bowl. But Green Bay closed out strong, winning their final four games and going 8-8 on the season.

Favre finished the ’06 season with 18 touchdowns and 18 interceptions, 3,885 passing yards, and a passer rating of 72.7. He again didn’t make the Pro Bowl, and won no major awards. Despite his performance, the team losing early, and the 23-year-old Rodgers nipping at his heals, Favre was still able to keep his consecutive games streak going by playing all 16 games.

After a win over the Bears to close out the season, many thought it might be the last we saw of Favre on the field in an NFL game. Now 37 years old, it made sense to have a changing of the guard. But he was still under contract, and eventually he determined that he wanted to continue playing for the Packers.

“If it is my last game, I want to remember it,” Favre said.

So in 2007, Favre returned to the field yet again. The Bears were major favorites to win their third straight division title, but Favre and the Packers had something to say about that. Although they lost to Chicago twice during the regular season, Green Bay finished with a 13-3 record behind a resurgent Favre. He finished with 4,155 passing yards, 28 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, and a passer rating of 95.7.

Among his career milestones, Favre became the NFL’s all-time leader in touchdown passes in 2007, surpassing the 420 touchdowns thrown by Dan Marino of the Miami Dolphins. A pre-recorded message from Marino was played at the stadium, directed at Favre’s accomplishment.

“I loved holding the touchdown record for the past 13 years,” Marino said. “But if someone was going to break it, I’m glad it was someone like you, who has always competed at the highest level and always played to win.”

The Packers were good enough to receive a bye week in the ’07 playoffs, heading into the divisional round against the Seattle Seahawks. Favre was extremely accurate in that game, throwing three touchdown passes and no interceptions on 18-for-23 passing. That sent Green Bay to the NFC Championship game against the New York Giants, who were just 10-6 in the regular season.

The game went to overtime, tied at 20-20, and that’s where Favre would again make a big mistake. His first pass of the overtime period, from his own 28-yard line, would be intercepted by Giants defender Corey Webster. That set up the game-winning field goal for New York, who won the game 23-20. For Favre, it would turn out that his final pass in a Packers uniform would be that crushing interception.


New York Jets Quarterback Brett Favre and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg pose for a photo.
New York Jets Quarterback Brett Favre and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg pose for a photo. | Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Favre would officially retire in March of 2008, telling the Packers that he just couldn’t do it any longer.

“I know I can still play, but it’s like I told my wife, I’m just tired mentally. I’m just tired,” Favre, a three-time NFL MVP, told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen in a voice mail message.

Green Bay moved forward with grooming Rodgers to be the regular starting quarterback, but later Favre would pull a shocker and decide that he did, indeed, want to play in 2008. That made for an awkward situation between the two sides, and a split was inevitable. Favre was traded to the New York Jets for a draft pick, taking over a team with playoff aspirations.

The 39-year-old Favre had an up-and-down year for the Jets, leading the team to an 8-3 record and looking early on like one of the favorites in the AFC. But they went into a downward spiral, finishing just 9-7 and actually missing out on the playoffs altogether. The quarterback’s stats at the end of the year were unattractive, as well: 3,472 passing yards, 22 touchdowns and 22 interceptions, and a mediocre 81 passer rating.

After the season, Favre revealed that he had been playing through a shoulder injury and that he felt it was finally time to hang up his cleats and walk away from the game.

“There are several things that went into decision but most importantly, the most important thing, was that physically, you know with my shoulder the last half of the year it hampered the way I played,” Favre said. “I’m 39, I had several options [to have surgery] and to let it heal. How that would affect me in terms of playing I had no idea and it wasn’t something I was going to risk.”

The Jets released Favre and moved on, and he went back home to Mississippi.

2009 & 2010

Julius Peppers of the Carolina Panthers against quarterback Brett Favre of the Minnesota Vikings.
Julius Peppers of the Carolina Panthers against quarterback Brett Favre of the Minnesota Vikings. | Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

But just six months later, Favre would again change his mind and sign a two-year deal with the Minnesota Vikings, which would pay him $12 million in his first season and $13 million in his second. That kept his now-ridiculous streak of consecutive games alive, and Favre actually had — by many measures — the best season of his career in Minnesota.

The Vikings started the season 6-0 and ended up finishing 12-4, winning the NFC North and edging out the Green Bay Packers by just one game. Favre would throw 33 touchdowns and just seven interceptions during the regular season — the latter of which was by far his career-low. He finished the season 4,202 passing yards and a passer rating of 107.2, which was the highest rating of his entire career.

Favre and the Vikings were good enough to earn a bye week, going directly to the divisional round against an old foe — the Dallas Cowboys. This time, Favre would finally get the best of the team that had been a major thorn in his side early in his career. He went 15-for-24 passing with 234 yards and four touchdowns, posting a passer rating of 134.4 and winning the game by a score of 34-3.

That sent the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game against the New Orleans Saints, who were 13-3 in the regular season. The two teams were tied at 28-28 with just seconds remaining in the fourth quarter and the Vikings driving toward field goal range. But on a pass that, if completed, would’ve put the Vikings in position to win the game with one kick, Favre was intercepted by the New Orleans defense.

That sent the game to overtime, where the Saints would eventually win by a score of 31-28. In what seems like a bit of poetry, Favre’s first NFL pass was an interception, his final pass in a Packers uniform was an interception, and now his final pass in a playoff game was an interception.

Favre did return for his second season in Minnesota, but at the age of 41 he was finally finished. He had a career-worst 69.9 passer rating, starting the first 12 games of the season and seeing the Vikings go 5-7. An injury against the Buffalo Bills would keep Favre out for the team’s next game against the New York Giants, finally ending his consecutive games started streak at 297 — a record that will likely stand for a very long time, if not forever.

Favre would return to the field against the Chicago Bears just a week later, but a big hit by lineman Corey Wootton essentially sacked Favre into retirement for the final time.

“[It was] one of the most minor hits I’ve ever [taken],” Favre said. “The guy didn’t even hit me, he pushed me. I threw the ball and the field of course was solid ice, it was like concrete. I hit the left side of my head and the next thing I remember, I was snoring as our trainer was kind of shaking me saying, ‘Are you OK?’ I look at the footage, even though it wasn’t long, there was that 10-15 second period where I was asleep.”

The Vikings started backup quarterback Joe Webb for the final two games, and Favre rode off into the sunset as a battered 41-year-old.


Brett Favre, former NFL quarterback, poses with his bronze bust during the NFL Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony.
Brett Favre, former NFL quarterback, poses with his bronze bust during the NFL Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony. | Joe Robbins/Getty Images

There would be, of course, rumors of Favre wanting to return to the game shortly after finally stepping away for real. For a period after 2010, any time a high-profile quarterback went down to injury somebody would inevitably suggest that Favre may be an option. But none of that would pan out, and in 2016 he would be inducted into the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. His speech focused on the importance of his father in his life, and how their relationship made him the man and football player he was.

Through tears, Favre told a story about how his wife, Deanna, once told him that his father couldn’t wait until he finally got to see Brett inducted into the Hall of Fame.

“Up until that moment, I had never thought about the Hall of Fame,” Favre said Saturday. “So a new goal entered my mind. I said to myself, ‘I will make it to the Hall of Fame so I could acknowledge the fact of how important he was.'”

“I want you to know, Dad, I spent the rest of my career trying to redeem myself and make him proud,” Favre said. “I hope I succeeded.”

Of course, it wouldn’t be vintage Favre without a joke about thinking about returning to the field one last time.

“All this excitement has me wanting to call [ESPN’s] Ed Werder and spread the word again,” Favre said.

As for his actual retirement, Favre has mostly stayed out of the spotlight. He has done some commercials, including one with Sears which poked fun at his retirement drama. Currently, he lives in Hattiesburg, Mississippi with his wife on their 465-acre property. He spends his time playing beach volleyball, killing venomous snakes, and doing whatever makes him happy.

Statistics courtesy of ESPN and Pro-Football-Reference.