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Era ends in Green Bay

Sports Den

March 8, 2008
By Dennis Grall - dgrall@dailypress
ESCANABA — Now that Brett Favre’s brilliant career with the Green Bay Packers has ended, the natural progression is finding out where he ranks among the all-time great quarterbacks.

Based purely on statistics, he would be first. But the rankings are more than just numbers, which leaves his slot open to the judgement of all pro football watchers.

Ron Jaworski, a former Philadelphia signal caller who is now a premier analyst on ESPN, looks strongly at Super Bowl titles in his ranking. That is a good idea, but it really says more about the quality of the team than the quality of the quarterback.

Do you remember Trent Dilfer? He led Baltimore to the title in 2001, but would anyone put him among the top 100 in history?

Does that also mean Eli Manning ranks on a par with Favre because both have one Super Bowl victory? Does that mean Barry Sanders is way down the list of premier running backs because the Detroit Lions have never been to the Super Bowl?

Bart Starr won two Super Bowl titles and was MVP both times, but was the director of great teams. He is always ranked among the best, more for his exceptional execution than for any remarkable playing qualities.

Leadership qualities are vital, and judgmental, but Starr would definitely be among the top handful in that category. Favre would also rank high there, as would most QBs because that is demanded of the position.

Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw secured four Lombardi trophies during their Hall of Fame careers, Tom Brady and Troy Aikman collected three, and John Elway, Bob Griese and Roger Staubach join Starr with two titles.

Brady is still active with the potent New England Patriots and could easily pick up a couple more championships.

Montana, a classic quarterback with the fabled Notre Dame pedigree, is ranked No. 1 by many observers. Aikman, Elway, Brady, Griese and Peyton Manning are in his same mold.

Staubach would fit in nicely with Steve Young and Fran Tarkenton.

Dan Marino, whose major records were surpassed by Favre, and Warren Moon never won a Super Bowl.

Johnny Unitas is probably the best of the 1950s-60s group and is always mentioned among the best of all time.

I’ve been attending NFL games since 1956, when I saw the Packers play the Bears in Wrigley Field. In addition to all of the previously mentioned standouts, I’ve also seen Eddie LeBaron, Tobin Rote, Bobby Layne, Babe Parilli, Y.A. Tittle, Charlie Conerly, Roman Gabriel, Dan Fouts and John Hadl and others.

I only watched Otto Graham on television, but he would have to be among anyone’s top five. Montana, Elway and Unitas also belong among that group. Brady may not be there yet but is definitely on the cusp.

Favre, despite his numerous records, is in the next group of five. He exhibited creative flair with his let-it-fly approach and devil-may-care attitude, but his record number of interceptions drop him into the second group.

No matter where he ranks, he will always be a favorite with an earthy, swash-buckling style that cannot be overlooked.

It was always a thrill to watch Favre, perhaps the NFL’s most beloved superstar. You never knew what he was going to give, but you were on the edge of your seat — at Lambeau Field or in front the TV — waiting for it to happen.

He leaves a tremendous legacy, topped by his incredible durability and a record 160 regular season wins.

A special and very memorable era has ended. I feel blessed to have had a front row seat for that era, as well as the Bart Starr era.

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