Quarterbacks and the “It Factor”

August 8, 2008

Well Brett Favre found a home. And it didn’t take long. He will conclude his career with the New York Jets. How that works out only time will tell. History says that there is probably less than a 50 percent chance that he will be successful. Still no matter how it goes it doesn’t change the fact that if Brett Favre has nothing else – he has “it”. And that’s all that matters.

Despite the fact that Green Bay wanted to move on without him after he “retired” – Brett Favre gets another chance with another team. That’s because he is a superstar. Quarterback is the “star” position in football. It always has been and it always will be. The NFL has virtually been defined by the heroics of the superstar quarterback. Johnny Unitas quarterbacked the Colts to a victory over the Giants in what is generally considered the most important game in NFL history 50 years ago. Joe Namath led the AFL Jets to a defining victory over the Colts in Super Bowl III. And supercool Joe Montana smoothly led the 49ers to multiple Super Bowl championships.

Each of those quarterbacks had the “it” factor that is so highly prized and rewarded. That “it” factor is a commodity that can be traded on again and again. You can be the biggest ass in the world but if you have “it” your excesses are usually tolerated and almost always excessively compensated.

Brett Favre who in recent years has proved to be a spoiled and petulant superstar has the elusive “it” factor found a new home. The New York Jets believe that Favre’s “it” factor is indeed worth millions.

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Brett Favre

August 6, 2008

For most professional athletes the end never comes easy. This is most certainly the case for Brett Favre who will likely leave Green Bay bitter and angry. This is in stark contrast to the scene just a few months ago when Favre “retired” with tears in his eyes after 16 mostly spectacular years with the Packers.

But as big of a star as Brett Favre was and is – he is the NFL’s only three-time MVP and the league’s all-time passing yardage and touchdown passes leader – he is no different than other superstar players at the end of their careers. Let’s look back at a couple of former star quarterbacks who were as big if not bigger in their times as Favre is today.

Thirty-five years ago it didn’t end gracefully for Johnny Unitas, the Baltimore Colts icon, who at the time was considered football’s greatest ever quarterback. In the end, Unitas played, if that’s the word for it, his last games in a San Diego Chargers uniform. Unitas a Charger? How unseemly. But the Baltimore Colts judged rightly that Unitas was no longer a star and at nearly 40 was not close to the player he once was. The time had come for the team to move in a different direction. But Unitas wanted to play on. So he was forced to go to San Diego where sadly he played just like Baltimore thought he would – poorly. The end came for the great Johnny Unitas and it was not pretty.

The end was not nearly as undignified for Joe Montana, but still Montana was forced out of San Francisco in order to make way for Steve Young. Rather than sit the bench behind Young, Montana went on to play several pretty good years in Kansas City. But damn, Joe Montana, the epitome of cool and money, was nonetheless forced to live out his NFL years with the Chiefs. It didn’t seem right that one of the best players of all-time had to play somewhere other than with the team that made his career. But the point is it happens to every great player.

Now the end has come for Brett Favre. It could be said that he brought this on himself. And that would be true – he did in fact announce his retirement – which caused Green Bay to start looking at life without him. And yes he truly was great, and truly was loved in Green Bay. But what Brett Favre, the fans and everyone else need to realize is: eventually someone else gets the love. Like death – getting shuffled out – is inevitable. Sad but we do move on – all of us.


Trust What You See

December 11, 2006

The final score: Tennessee Titans 26, the Houston Texans 20 with a thrilling overtime finish capped by THE RUN. The game was an emphatic statement for Houston native Vince Young who is earning more and more believers every week. Even though he was wearing Tennessee’s blue, Young electrified his homecoming crowd with a closing 39 yard sprint for the winning touchdown that will hopefully shut up Young’s nay sayers.

Vince Young is on a roll. He’s led the Titans to four straight victories and has won five of the last six games. Most of them come from behind thrillers. Yes, in only his 10th game as a starter he is already building his NFL legend. Young is enhancing the legend he crafted in college when he won the national championship last winter.

The problem is there never should have been doubters. The doubts crept in when Young allegedly earned a low score on the NFL’s “Wonderlick” intelligence test last winter. The doubts grew when many said he didn’t have the proper throwing motion to succeed as a top level pro passer.

But what I saw then and what I see now is a superb athlete and a gifted leader with rare motivational skills – the same skills that allowed him to lead the University of Texas to the National Championship in the Rose Bowl. What I saw was a uniquely skilled football player with an uncanny knack for making the right play at the right time. What I saw then was the greatest performance a college quarterback has ever had when the chips were on the line on the biggest stage. What I still see is a magical athlete who barring injury will thrill football fans in Nashville and around the country for years to come. I trust what I see. I hope you do too.