With the Vikings, Favre proved he was better than Rodgers

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Brett Favre
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Brett Favre /

In Green Bay, there will always be arguments about who was the better quarterback, Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers. Minnesota Vikings fans could join that argument also.

The reason that the majority of NFL talking heads, prognosticators, bloggers, experts and fans alike think that Aaron Rodgers is a better football player than Brett Favre is simple.

Perception is reality. They still see Rodgers, while Favre, having retired in 2010, fades under the tide of NFL history.

They are also susceptible to delusion.

What they remember is Rodgers in a stunning week one win in Lambeau against Chicago (when in the final minutes the Bears decided not to cover Randall Cobb) and not the week 13 loss to the 2-9 Arizona Cardinals in the same location. They remember his Hail Mary passes and not his overtime losses.

They marvel at the physical brilliance of Rodgers, the nimble feet, the golden arm, the cocksurety of the bearded face and diffident countenance in press conferences.

They are fooled by the illusion of Rodgers because they do not look at the actual quarterback, the team captain, but merely the awesome potential he possesses to make plays which no one else in the league can make.

Like a guy like Michael Vick used to make all the time.

Like a guy like Brett Favre used to make all the time.

Becoming the ideal NFL quarterback is really not about the guy who makes the impossible play, the exquisite and incredible football pass, the magic act that amazes everybody. It is instead, by definition, more about being the team’s captain, the person the offense looks to when the chips are down and the pressure is on.

In Green Bay, Packer head coach Mike McCarthy was fired this year after 13 seasons. Let’s not be naive to believe that Rodgers didn’t have everything to do with that decision after a disappointing 6-7-1 campaign. Through the press this off-season, a few former Packers (on both offense and defense), have called Rodgers everything from “arrogant” to a leader with “trust issues”.

Just a tough year, or something else altogether?

You could never find a guy that played with Brett Favre that would call him a Prima Donna. In fact, he and Viking great Jim Marshall are probably the toughest–and most respected–dudes to ever play the game.

A quarterback is not on the field to make a play, he is there to lead his team.

Magic Show

But let’s say the concept was about making plays in the measurement of Favre and Rodgers. The pulling rabbits out of hats, escaping burning buildings with the girl in your arms, throwing thunderbolts through the stadium sky.  Favre would still be the better. A Seabiscuit to Rodger’s War Admiral, a Houdini to his Copperfield.

Favre has more “what did he just do?!” plays than any player in the history of professional football.

He also did it for 20 years, in 321 straight games (yes, of course, I’m including playoffs) until his 41-year-old body was so battered he couldn’t lift his throwing arm over his shoulder.

We can forget the stats that have piled up. Favre broke all the records, and Rodgers is painting a masterpiece. Bottom line is that each has one Super Bowl winning ring. Let’s leave that be for now.

The criteria for the NFL tournament (playoffs) is based on team wins. When that is tied, the rules call for an examination of head-to-head contests.

So let’s go ahead and do that here, because it settles this argument under a mountain of rock.


The year is 2009. Brett Favre, soon to be 40 years old and two seasons removed/retired from Green Bay, arrives in Minnesota to sign with a football team coached by the infamous illustration of NFL mediocrity named Brad Childress. Favre knows no one on the team save placekicker Ryan Longwell and Vikings OC Darrell Bevel, with whom he worked with as quarterbacks coach in Green Bay.

Aaron Rodgers, who will turn 27 during the year, is in his fifth season with the Packers (four with Mike McCarthy as head coach), his second as a starter after backing up Favre for three years.

13 years and five training camps separate the two quarterbacks.

So what happened?

Week four in Minnesota. Favre throws three touchdowns, finishes the game with a 135.3 rating and the Vikings, in their 1980’s throwback uniforms, handle the Pack with surprising ease.

At 7:21 of the fourth quarter, Aaron Rodgers is sacked in the end zone by Jared Allen, clinching the win and giving the Vikings a 4-0 record to begin the season.

Okay, okay! Give Aaron another chance at the old man! Bring him to Lambeau to face his betrayed legion of cheeseheads!!

Fine. A month later, Favre and the Vikings travel East to Lambeau Field, where over 71,000 fans pack the stadium for the afternoon contest.

The world is watching.

The Pack is 4-2, the Vikings are 6-1. Prime Time for Aaron Rodgers to show the planet that the clock has struck twelve on Brett Favre and his place on the Green Bay letterhead.

But something funny happened on the way to number 12’s trip up cheese mountain and a number four jersey being tattered underfoot. The Guard being changed according to the Gods.

Greybeard did not comply. Instead, he absolutely stunned the Lambeau crowd with one of the most remarkable game performance of his two decades in football.

He threw four touchdowns and made play after play on what was his home field for 17 seasons, astonishing his former team and the Green Bay crowd.

You could also feel the bittersweet tears of the Packer fans. Their broken hearts hated him, loved him and hated him anew, washed in melancholy, beer and defeat.

At one point, after a 51-yard touchdown pass to Percy Harvin made the game 24-3 in the second quarter, Fox broadcaster and Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman remarked that Favre was making the Green Bay defense look like “keystone cops”.

Rodgers played well, but was dwarfed by his counterpart. The Packer QB took six sacks, was grass-stained and bruised at game’s end while Favre took none and was clean as a whistle, smiling ear from ear as he waved to the Lambeau crowd leaving the field.

Two games, and a verdict that stands to this day.

Solid Numbers

Now, just a few stats to make a summary here.

Rodgers now has 14 fourth-quarter comeback victories. The last two were in 2018 against the 4-12 San Francisco 49ers and the 4-12 New York Jets. Favre has twice as many.

Favre has 43 career game-winning drives, one less than Tom Brady. Rodgers, who will turn 36 in December, has 20, three less than Russell Wilson.

Rodgers is 2-7-1 in overtime. In fact, the Packers OT win over the lowly Jets gave Green Bay it’s single road win in 2018, ending a nine-game skid.

Backup Packer QB Brett Hundley has just as many OT wins.

Lastly, the Super Bowls. At approximately the age of 27, both Favre and Rodgers had their single Super Bowl victory. After the 2010 season, the Packers and Rodgers beat a turnover-plagued Steelers team in Super Bowl XLV by five points, while Favre and his Packers thoroughly crushed a New England Patriots team in Super Bowl XXXI in 1996.

Favre’s Packers returned to the Super Bowl in 1997 as perhaps an even better team, but head coach Mike Shanahan of the Denver Broncos brilliantly out-coached his rival in Green Bay’s Mike Holmgren and the Broncos kept the ball out of Favre’s hands with a powerful and controlling rushing attack.

This last question may be the crux of the argument.

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There are few people who would think that Rodger’s 2010 9-7 Packers could beat Favre’s 13-3 1996 version. But which quarterback would you choose (in his physical prime) to beat that number one ‘96 NFL defense which featured Packer studs Reggie White, Sean Jones, and LeRoy Butler?

In the big game–to win and not just shine–I’d take Favre every time.