Rejuvenated Favre is giving fans one last terrific season

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 4, 2007

October 4, 2007

There is a famous piece of video footage of Joe Namath as quarterback of the Los Angeles Rams. It’s not the familiar image of Namath running off the Orange Bowl turf, index finger raised after beating the Baltimore Colts in the improbable Super Bowl III upset.

No, this was a beaten-down Joe Namath. His shoulders slumped over, back crooked, wrinkles protruding from his face. This was the Joe Namath that held on too long, the one that believed he could still play despite myriad knee surgeries.

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It’s a sad picture of one of the game’s great quarterbacks. It’s also a reminder of when enough is enough when it comes to the game of professional football.

To be fair, that’s how I envisioned Brett Favre after a dismal 2006 season. I saw the Southern Miss great looking like Namath, etched in history as the guy that believed his body would stand up to the rigors of pro ball. He had little supporting cast, a high draft choice in Aaron Rodgers as the heir-apparentat quarterback and a player who has started an NFL quarterback record 241 straight games.

Favre’s creative play — throwing passes underhand and zipping fastballs through defensive backs — started to backfire and get intercepted. Each time Favre made a mistake last season, that Namath picture appeared.

Of course there is a little selfishness involved with me and Favre. He is the player who led a team called Southern Miss to a win over Auburn in 1990, my sophomore year of high school. He is the one that first put this school from Hattiesburg in my brain.

He also is a sports ambassador for this state that needs as many ambassadors as possible. His name is etched next to the greatest wide receiver in NFL history, Jerry Rice, and arguably the greatest running back in league history, Walter Payton.

I didn’t want to see Brett Favre Namath on the sidelines, green and yellow jersey slouched over his beaten, slumping body. It just wouldn’t be right.

Yet Favre returned again this year. He told skeptical reporters and fans that he believed this year’s Packers have the talent and ability to make it to the Super Bowl. So far, he has guided the club to a 4-0 record. He is 112-for-170 passing for 1,205 yards and eight touchdowns, six more than interceptions thrown.

Even more spectacular is the youthfulness Favre embodies. After throwing his record 421st career touchdown, he ran down the field, hoisted wide receiver Greg Jennings onto his shoulders, and ran around the field. He looked like he was the same gunslinger who led a Packer resurgance 10 years ago.

He also exorcised those images of Joe Namath from my brain. Favre is not old Joe anymore. He is young Brett who happens to be 38 years old.

He is playing the game the same way he always has and he is winning.

And, oh boy, is he fun to watch.


Sean P. Murphy is sports editor of The Vicksburg Post. E-mail him at