With his 3rd MVP Award, Peyton Manning has just tied Brett Favre for the most in NFL history. This narrows the gap even further in the Manning/Favre debate, doesn't it? Each man is durable, prolific, and owner of exactly one Super Bowl ring. Currently, the main difference between the two(if we ignore the fact that one guy led his team to a 12 win season and the other would have trouble finding 12 guys on his team with a good thing to say about him) is that Manning is 32, and Brett Favre is 39.
He's 39 years old, people. Is anyone surprised by what transpired this season? Let's flash back to Week 12. The Jets move to 8-3 after spanking the formerly unbeaten Tennessee Titans. Favre's season quarterback rating is in the low 90s, practically a miracle for a man his age. Peter King ranks the Jets #2 on his Fine Fifteen, and hints that it would be just fantastic to see a New York/New York Super Bowl with a halftime interruption by The Boss.
Apparently King, Favre's other bandwagon jumpers, and the fans that ditched the Packers for the Jets(you know who you are) forgot one very important fact: old people freaking hate cold weather. Witness Favre's final pass as a Packer in the record-low temperatures of Green Bay. It was picked off by the Giants, they won in overtime, then made history or something.
I'm not normally one to toot my own horn, but back in June I remember saying something about Favre wanting to return to football in order to prove that he's still got it. No champion quarterback wants his last pass to be an interception. So what did Favre do? He came back with a bang! And on his final pass of 2008, he....threw an interception that killed the Jets' playoff hopes in the process. He sure showed us! After beating the Titans, the Jets finished 1-4, thanks mostly to Favre and his 2 TDs to 9 INTs, which equated to a rating in the mid 50s. He choked when his team needed him the most. We might as well call him Brett Grossman from now on.
Here's the link to King's short interview with Brett the Jet after the Tennessee win. There's one Favre quote in particular that I just love. "I knew what a change it would be, especially in New York. I was about to be 39, and New York wasn't a great fit. The media, [the Jets] coming off a 4-12 season, learning a new offense, the high expectations...did I really want to go through that? A change like that would have been tough on a 22-year-old."
Yeah, it sure must be tough on those 22-year-olds to learn a new offense. Oh wait...they call that the NFL Draft. And to really hammer home my cold-weather point, I will now paraphrase Bill Simmons. If you need your driveway shoveled, who is better equipped for the task? A strong 22 year old, or a 39 year old uncle who pops pills like Pez? You're going with the younger guy, no question. Favre listed plenty of advantages to being a 39 year old quarterback, but he neglected to mention that the elderly happen to hate cold weather, noise, and physical abuse. If you hate those things, you might want to avoid being an NFL quarterback in December.
The Word of Caution:
And so here we are, on the cusp of another NFL postseason. Peyton Manning has his 3rd MVP. Brett Favre's team hates him. Well, maybe not the whole team. But he's partly responsible for running a solid coach out of town and alienating his younger peers. And so goes the tale of the superstar athlete who leeches onto a new team for one last shot at the glory he once had. Huge names, legendary names, have been scratched up because of this stubborn refusal to keep the all-important legacy in mind. Michael Jordan, Washington Wizard. Joe Montana, Kansas City Chief. Brett Favre, New York Jet.
"I'm ruining my legacy! Weeeeeeeeee!!!"
So Peyton, knowing that you're most likely reading my blog, I urge you to recognize when it's time to stop playing. You're obviously the best quarterback in the NFL right now, and you may wind up as the greatest ever when you're done. You have some great years left, but when they're done, hang 'em up and move on. Be John Elway. Don't be Brett Favre.