Cory's Corner: Brett Favre's imperfections made him beloved

Brett Favre is a paradox.

The only reason the free-wheeling, rocket-armed quarterback carved out one of the more successful careers in NFL history is because Ron Wolf saw competitive embers that needed to be stoked.

Favre was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in the second round of the 1991 NFL Draft. Since he was a southern boy, everyone expected him to flourish.

However, that script needed a rewrite. He was buried behind Chris Miller and Billy Joe Tolliver on the Falcons’ depth chart. There was such a lack of trust with Favre and that coaches that he only attempted four passes during the entire 1991 season.

The problem was that Favre got content. He partied too much and the coaching staff began to worry that they may never be able to rein him in.

Then Wolf comes in and dangles a first round pick in front of the Falcons. They were probably stunned that someone would offer a first rounder for someone that barely played as a rookie, not to mention someone that had difficulty with the transition to becoming a pro.

So just like that Favre left the comfort of the south where he’d been born and raised to Green Bay — the smallest outpost in the NFL. Favre realized that if he didn’t turn things around in Green Bay, another shot might not come his way.

From the moment Favre came to Green Bay with the boyish southern drawl that made the women in Wisconsin weak in the knees, he was accepted. And then Sept. 20, 1992 happened. Favre was called into action because Don Majkowski tore a ligament in his ankle.

The rest everyone remembers. Favre engineered a 92-yard drive with just 1:07 on the clock and the Packers down 23-17 to the 2-0 Bengals. And Favre capped off the 24-23 Packers’ win with a 35-yard perfectly threaded touchdown pass to Kitrick Taylor, who hadn’t caught a ball all day. (To be fair, Taylor only caught two passes that season.)

Favre was easy to like because he was simple. From the early days when he wore his rolled up jean shorts to his Nike golf cap with its ever-present sweat stains.

It wasn’t hard for folks to identify with Favre because he shared the same characteristics. With 15 breweries in Wisconsin, this state has a deep connection with alcohol and Favre wasn’t bashful about working hard and playing hard. Favre was also an avid outdoorsman, which complemented perfectly with the state’s camouflage and blaze orange culture.

But I think the biggest reason people fell in love with Favre was because he wasn’t perfect. Favre had an addiction to Vicodin, drank and even was a womanizer. But when he took responsibility and entered the league’s substance abuse program May 14, 1996, many people built a new respect for the charming southern extrovert. Fans started to understand that he had been dependant on pills and was mixing that with cocktails and partying — demons that many fans had or are still wrestling with.

His imperfection didn’t stop there. It continued on the field where he sometimes played like his hair was on fire. He owns the interception record by a whopping 59, was picked off six times by the Rams in the 2002 NFC Divisional Playoffs and threw a pick in the 2008 NFC Championship to seal the Packers’ fate in his last game in green and gold.

He’s been revered for his moments of perfection. Scrambling to his left and uncorking a 40-yard fastball to Sterling Sharpe for Favre’s first playoff win over the Lions in 1994, throwing for 399 yards and four touchdowns a day after his dad passed away to beat the Raiders in 2003 or the 82-yard touchdown pass in overtime to beat the Broncos 2007.

Those things are all great. But Favre became personified and loved throughout Packer Nation for his imperfections. Fans realized that he was just another person that makes mistakes and the love affair only deepened.

Favre truly is a paradox. Is he an amazing athlete or an imperfect human being?

He’s both and that’s perfectly fine with Packers’ fans. 

 

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Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Comments (27)

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MarkinMadison's picture

July 18, 2015 at 07:06 am

Favre was a ho down south during the off-season too, so it is not like the "weak kneed women of Wisconsin" falling for the southern drawl is what its all about. And drinking, yeah, a lot of people here have a drinking problem, but most of us don't. Is it possible that we respect what he did on the field in spite of what he did off the field, and not because of it? Favre's been selling the "aww shucks" thing for a long time. If you want to buy it, that's your business I guess.

And on the field, can we love some of the amazing moments he brought to us without christening him the second coming of Christ?

How about this: Brett Favre was a unique talent. Often called a "throw-back" player, a gambler and a gun- slinger. He created moments of pure magic because of his supreme belief that he could make any throw. There will never be another Brett Favre.

And let's just leave it at that.

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PackerAaron's picture

July 18, 2015 at 08:29 am

"a lot of people here have a drinking problem."

At first I thought you meant CHTV, then I realized you meant Wisconsin.

Both probably true though. :)

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CoryJennerjohn's picture

July 18, 2015 at 12:18 pm

Good point Aaron.

I didn't say drinking problem. I just said work hard and play hard -- but that's what people think they read.

Your piece on Favre was great.

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PackerAaron's picture

July 18, 2015 at 01:21 pm

Thanks, Cory.

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MarkinMadison's picture

July 20, 2015 at 12:39 pm

"Fans started to understand that he had been dependant on pills and was mixing that with cocktails and partying — demons that many fans had or are still wrestling with."

I think it's fair to read between these lines that "cocktails" are one of the "demons" you felt "many fans had" as well as Favre.

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WKUPackFan's picture

July 18, 2015 at 12:03 pm

As a person with a drinking problem (10+ years without), I agree 100% with your post Mark. Please see my reply to your excellent post on the "Favre hate" thread. Thanks

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MarkinMadison's picture

July 20, 2015 at 12:40 pm

Thanks WKUP

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Jeff Hayes's picture

July 18, 2015 at 07:33 am

I agree with Mark for the most part but you also have to love him for the bad as well, that's what makes him unique!

Favre played the game with passion and that's something hard to find in players, If you look around the league it will be hard to find a player who plays with such intensity, yes there are some but they're few and far between. Favre has earned every accolade they bestow upon him and that's all that matters.

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Ryan Simulcik's picture

July 18, 2015 at 09:54 am

Mark It almost seems to me that you're making Brett out to be just your average quarterback that sold the southern boy persona. It gets old people holding on to a grudge for 7 years. Need to let it go, he's one of the best QBs of all time to play the game and probably threw too many picks but today he comes home!

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MarkinMadison's picture

July 20, 2015 at 12:57 pm

Ridiculous comment.

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zeke's picture

July 18, 2015 at 10:17 am

"Brett Favre was a unique talent. Often called a "throw-back" player, a gambler and a gun- slinger. He created moments of pure magic because of his supreme belief that he could make any throw. There will never be another Brett Favre."

He's hardly making him out to be an average quarterback.

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MarkinMadison's picture

July 20, 2015 at 12:52 pm

Exactly Zeke. It is not about a grudge, it is about being honest and objective. To butcher a quote from CM3, a lot of things that make guys successful on the field are not socially acceptable in real life. And everyone arguing Brett is the best ever, fine, but what do you do when #12 gets Super Bowl #2, MVP #3, and starts passing Farve in the record book?

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MarkinMadison's picture

July 20, 2015 at 12:52 pm

Exactly Zeke. It is not about a grudge, it is about being honest and objective. To butcher a quote from CM3, a lot of things that make guys successful on the field are not socially acceptable in real life. And everyone arguing Brett is the best ever, fine, but what do you do when #12 gets Super Bowl #2, MVP #3, and starts passing Farve in the record book?

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D.D.Driver's picture

July 18, 2015 at 10:29 am

Sorry, I don't *love* him because he was always the one to melt down and shit the bed when the team needed him most. Do we love Bart Starr a little less because he was awesome when the team needed him most (i.e, post-season). Are you telling me if Bart Starr threw bone-headed picks that ended the Packers season over and over again, Packer fans would love him even more for his imperfections?

I've got to call bullshit on that one.

I restate the following:

(1) Favre was a great (but deeply flawed) player on the field.
(2) He is kind of a jerk.
(3) He is not and never was the "greatest Packer ever."

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egbertsouse's picture

July 18, 2015 at 10:30 am

I'm a lifelong Packer fan and season ticket holder. Favre is a great player but will never be "beloved" to me. He is an egotistic, self-involved ass of a human being. Not unique in the NFL, I grant you.

As a father of a daughter, I never could get over his texting of the dick pics to unwilling women. Low-life.

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Nick Perry's picture

July 18, 2015 at 10:37 am

Thanks Cory, excellent piece. I'm one of those that loved Brett Favre and have never held a grudge towards him myself. He's admitted he could have did some things differently at the end and that was good enough for me. Perhaps growing up with the Packers of the 70's and 80's have something to do with it. Favre gave his all every game and every season for the Packers. He was the main reason the Packers became a franchise EVERYBODY wanted to play for, opposed to a franchise NOBODY wanted to play for in the 70's and 80's. He won more games than any NFL QB, many just like his first against the Bengals. Yes he threw a lot of picks but with Favre you took the bad because there was so much good.

I for one am glad the Packers are honoring him tonight, they really had to though to didn't they? I mean how bad would have it looked had Favre been elected to the NFL Hall of Fame before entering into the Packers Hall of Fame. He belongs in the Packers Hall of Fame because not only was he one of the greatest Packers, but one of the greatest the NFL has ever had. Thanks Brett!

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Since'61's picture

July 18, 2015 at 11:13 am

Nick - excellent comment. I agree. When Favre retired he had thrown more passes, more yards, more TDs and won more game than any other QB in NFL history. That's the role of the QB to throw TD's and win games. Yes, he threw too many picks. but to some extent that goes with throwing more passes than anyone else. There was a time when Johnny U. held the record for most picks and he is still considered by many as the greatest QB ever. Favre is not the greatest ever but he is in the top 10 and deserves his pace in the Packer and NFL Halls of Fame. Thanks for the memories Brett. Have a great day. Thanks, Since '61

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Nick Perry's picture

July 19, 2015 at 05:20 am

Thanks Since '61.

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MarkinMadison's picture

July 20, 2015 at 12:55 pm

I agree with this post, to the shock of some. :-)

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MarkinMadison's picture

July 20, 2015 at 12:55 pm

I agree with this post, to the shock of some. :-)

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CoryJennerjohn's picture

July 18, 2015 at 12:56 pm

Thanks a lot Nick. His missteps proved to people that even a three-time MVP makes the same mistakes that you and your neighbor make.

Take care.

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WKUPackFan's picture

July 18, 2015 at 12:17 pm

Excellent article Cory! Everyone has imperfections, some people's are more lovable than others. People do identify with others imperfections, sometimes because it makes tham feel better about their own. It's the Real Housewife's syndrome, if someone like that is so screwed up I must not be that bad.

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CoryJennerjohn's picture

July 18, 2015 at 12:54 pm

Thanks. You nailed it. Everyone identifies and measures themselves against other people. It's human nature.

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johnnyd17's picture

July 18, 2015 at 01:43 pm

you left out a big part of this tale, a great big part, the consecutive game streak...he kept showing up to play...a record that may stand along with Joe Dimaggios' hitting streak...

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D.D.Driver's picture

July 18, 2015 at 04:38 pm

His record will NEVER be broken for the simple reason that players are FORCED to sit by the leagues concussion rules now. Favre's streak wouldn't have really gotten off the ground under the new rules.

But this, too, leaves out a big part of story: the streak took on a life of its own and it was not always in the team's best interest to have a hobbled Favre on the field. Favre's legend grew with the streak. But was the team better off? I'm not so sure.

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Mojo's picture

July 18, 2015 at 02:36 pm

Well the day has arrived for the big Favre love fest. There will be a lot of misty-eyed Packer fans after they replay highlights tonight and the dongslingers speech. I won't be doing cartwheels myself, but I don't begrudge my fellow fans their moment.

This event is considered a positive by the organization. Since they feel that way, it's good enough for me - a fan of the Packers.

One perspective the Favre fans won't consider is Thompson did what he did because it was best for the organization. It's his job. Favre did what he did(purposely) because it was in the best interests of Favre. So what if it turned a number of people against TT and Rodgers. It was Favre's massive ego that needed feeding. If there was collateral damage not only "so what" but "good".

Anyway, as I said I think this event is good overall the GBP organization and team - so go at it.

And for the Favre lovers out there(many family and friends included) - enjoy your day. Hopefully you'll side with the G instead of the individual going forward. At least when the G is in right, as it was with Brent.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

July 18, 2015 at 03:17 pm

Pretty good article, Cory, and one with which I can mostly agree. Most fans only heard vague rumors about his "bad boy" characteristics, because the beat writers preferred access over reporting. Once one likes another person, it is much easier to forgive any foibles that become apparent. Welcome to the PHOF, Mr. Favre, you earned it.

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