Brett Favre vs. Aaron Rogers - The Past and the Present
IT'S FAVRE VS. RODGERS - AND MORE
When the NFC North rival Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings meet up at the Metrodome on Monday night, there will be a major storyline at work, for those people who put a lot of stock in such things (and don't we all, when it comes down to it?).
Yes, Brett Favre squares off against his former team for the very first time, and against the quarterback (Aaron Rodgers) who was drafted in the first round by the Packers while he was still an incumbent, and which he was obviously very reluctant to tutor.
Here are the game odds provided by BetUS:
Green Bay Packers +3 ½
Minnesota Vikings -3 ½
There is a lot more to Favre's animosity toward the Packers than he's ever been willing to let on. I think he felt he was being edged out the door the moment the Pack took Rodgers with the 24th choice of the 2005 draft. If you remember, though Rodgers was a guy who had been rumored to go first overall at one time, and he had fallen hard on draft day, to the point where the ESPN coverage of the event made him look like one of the most crestfallen individuals on the face of the earth.
When it came down to it, Green Bay was actually taking him as the best player available. The choice came in anticipation that someday soon they may have to bid adieu to Favre. Of course, that "someday" was projected for no more than four years, because that's how long they were going to able to hold on to Rodgers before he could move on to some other team. If he wasn't given an opportunity to play, you can rest assured that is exactly what he would have done.
The Packers' faith in Rodgers has been justified. The Cal product threw for 4038 yards and 28 TD's in his first year as a starter, and those numbers were significantly better than what Favre did with the Jets, where he did throw for 3472 yards and had the team in playoff contention but matched his 22 TD's with 22 interceptions. This season Favre has just one INT in three games as his team has won two of three in the NFL, while Rodgers has passed for 714 yards and four touchdowns without a pickoff.
If you're wondering about who might throw for the most yards on Monday, Rodgers will have the inside track, for certain. Minnesota has had one of the NFL's best rushing defenses for years, and the Vikes will likely slow Ryan Grant to the point where Rodgers will have to go to the air more. He'll get sacked, but he'll also put up numbers. Favre has the NFL's best running back at his disposal in Adrian Peterson (357 yards, 6.1 ypc) and the program there is to go with A.P. first and second, then see what Favre can create with receivers like rookie Percy Harvin.
It's kind of dumb luck that the Packers wound up with Rodgers in the first place.
When you look at the other QB's drafted in the opening round in '05. Alex Smith, the #1 overall choice, has never quite adapted to the NFL after spending time in Urban Meyer's spread option at Utah; that, along with injuries, have pretty much rendered him useless in the NFL. The San Francisco 49ers (+1400 to win the NFC) figure they are better off without him in the starting role, using journeyman Shawn Hill instead.
Jason Campbell was taken right after Rodgers, by the Washington Redskins, and his ineffectiveness is a principal reason they are such a long shot to win the NFC. One has to wonder what would have happened to Rodgers had the Packers gone for another position instead. The Redskins were fixated on Campbell, so they weren't looking elsewhere. None of the teams who comprised the rest of the first round - Seattle, Atlanta, San Diego, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and New England - saw themselves in any particular need of a quarterback, and for good reason. Unless my eyes deceive me, no other signal-caller was taken until Charlie Frye was chosen on Round 3 by Cleveland.
Rodgers tried to put his experience in a positive light. "It wasn't the easiest thing to go through what I went through," he said. "But I'm excited to go up to Green Bay and learn from the greatest quarterback in the league right now and probably a first-ballot Hall of Famer."
One can only guess what Favre's attitude may have been toward the rookie. I remember when the Vikings drafted Tommy Kramer out of Rice while they still had Fran Tarkenton as the starter. When asked whether he was going to "school" the young quarterback, not only did Tarkenton scoff at the idea, he was rather vocal about it.
This is not to say Scramblin' Fran empathized with Favre's position then, or now.
While Favre was making up his mind about going to Minnesota, this is what Tarkenton had to say about him: ”Here’s an organization that was loyal to him for 17, 18 years, provided stability of organization, provided players. It just wasn’t about Brett Favre. In this day and time, we have glorified the Brett Favre’s of the world so much, they think it’s about them. He goes to New York and bombs. He’s 39 years old. How would you like Ray Nitschke in his last year [playing for] the Vikings, or I retire, and go play for the Packers? I kind of hope it happens, so he can fail.”
Tarkenton added that “I think he has been a great flamboyant quarterback, but he has made more stupid plays than any great quarterback that I’ve ever seen."
It is rather well-known in NFL insider circles that Favre doesn't always have the best relationship with his teammates, and that situation was somewhat exacerbated in his New York experience. This year in training camp, some of the Viking players were known to be in favor of Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback, rather than Favre.
They're probably happy now, with the Vikings at 3-0. If they start losing games, how quickly will that change on a team where it is decidedly NOT about Favre, but about Peterson?