Amidst the National Football League's ongoing melodrama of dogfights and bar fights and underhanded cheating, let's take a moment to thank Brett Favre for everything he's done for the game since stepping onto Lambeau Field in 1992. As a lifelong Green Bay Packers fan, my appreciation for this unique quarterback extends far beyond the statistics to the very character of the man himself.
I've coached hundreds of kids in six sports spread across too many seasons to remember, and each time we take the field I tell them, "Enjoy this moment and revel in your ability to play."
No player in NFL history has met that challenge better than Favre, whose stunning record of 260 consecutive starts, including playoffs, at quarterback stands testament to his personal resilience and intense love for the game.
Four presidential elections have come and gone since Favre first stepped in behind center, and over 200 quarterbacks have made their first NFL start since then. The league's only three-time most valuable player, Favre's most impressive statistic in this ultimate team sport is that Green Bay owns the NFL's highest winning percentage (.625) since he took the helm 15 years ago this month.
Favre has led the Pack to 10 playoffs and two Super Bowls, suffering only one losing season. Only six NFL teams out of 31 sport winning records against Favre, and he's bested each of the Packer's division archrivals: the Bears, Lions and Vikings.
Given his Mississippi roots, Favre's record in frozen Green Bay is most surprising: 40 wins and five losses in games played below 35 degrees.
Favre works hard for his money. He's been on the injured list for one-fifth of those 260 games, playing entire seasons with injuries that would prevent most of us from showing up at the office, much less scrambling from blitzing linebackers.
Get a grip on this one: Favre once played 10 games with a broken thumb on his throwing hand!
Favre's grit is legendary. He's been knocked out of only six games, and in the 15 games he's started since suffering a significant injury, his record is nine wins and six losses.
Here's the most unforgettable scene I've ever witnessed at Lambeau: Favre suffers a concussion following a brutal hit by two defensive linemen on the first down of a drive. Sitting out the next two plays - literally - on the bench, Favre suddenly jumps up just as his back-up leads the offense out of the huddle.
Without being cleared by the team doctor and before Packer coaches could stop him, Favre runs out onto the field, ordering his replacement to the sideline.
Not even sure what play had been called, Favre calmly steps up to the line on fourth down, takes the snap and drops back to throw a picture perfect 28-yard touchdown pass to a Packer wide receiver striding into "my" corner of the south end zone. Team doctors refused to let him on the field again for the rest of the game.
To this day, Favre has no memory of the play.
Last Sunday, I took my son to watch Favre record his record 150th win as a starting quarterback and engineer his 38th fourth-quarter comeback against the San Diego Chargers, putting the Pack at a 3-0 to start the season.
It was the 62nd time in his career that Favre has thrown three or more touchdown passes. The icing on the cake? Brett's go-ahead TD pass tied Dan Marino's NFL career mark of 420 regular-season touchdowns.
Speaking as a Packer fan born too late to enjoy the Vince Lombardi era, the best thing about Favre's tenure is that, as long as he's in the game, my team's virtually never been out of a game.
In those 260 contests, the Packers have lost only 20 games by more than two touchdowns.
That basically means that, whenever Brett's got the ball, the Pack is but one strike away from getting the ball back and possibly taking the lead.
Doesn't always happen, but Brett always keeps you dreaming that it can.
Do yourself a favor this weekend and catch Favre's record-setting touchdown strike against the Vikings. No steroids will be involved, nor any spy cameras, just pure unadulterated fun from a man who still plays - at age 37 - with a boy's love for the game.