Brett Favre retires as the holder of several passing records, but is he one of the five best quarterbacks ever? Earlier this season, season we assembled a panel of experts -- Jeffri Chadiha, Matt Mosley, Mike Sando and Len Pasquarelli -- to weigh in on Favre's place in history:
Chadiha: Favre's in my six-pack
As great as Brett Favre is, he's not one of the top five quarterbacks ever. He ranks a strong No. 6 on my list -- right behind Joe Montana, John Elway, Johnny Unitas, Dan Marino and Peyton Manning -- and there isn't much he can do to elevate himself, even though he's enjoying a renaissance in his 17th season. Montana, Elway and Unitas have more championships. Marino never had as much talent around him as Favre has had during his career. And we have to assume Manning will hold all the major NFL passing records before he retires.
That being said, Favre has enjoyed a brilliant run. Favre also remains the only player to win three consecutive MVP awards (1995-97), while Green Bay's win in Super Bowl XXXI cements his status as a champion. In fact, the only complaint I have about Favre is the recklessness that led him to throw 38 touchdown passes and 47 interceptions over the previous two seasons. Aside from those struggles, he's been a quarterback for the ages.
-- Jeffri Chadiha
Mosley: Best in the clutch
It's pretty easy to build a case for Brett Favre as one of the top five quarterbacks of all time based on his numbers, but I'll leave that up to someone else. Favre belongs in that exclusive group because no one performed better in the clutch.
Joe Montana was brilliant in Bill Walsh's West Coast offense, but if there's a minute left on the clock and my team needs to go 80 yards for a score, give me Favre. I don't think any man has ever played the game with as much joy and passion as Favre.
-- Matt Mosley
Sando: He goes on the Mount Rushmore of QBs
Brett Favre has the numbers to rank among the top four or five quarterbacks in NFL history, but his appeal goes so far beyond the stats. None of the great quarterbacks seemed to have so much fun playing the game. And none was tough enough or resilient enough to start as many games consecutively. That's such a rare combination. No doubt, Favre is an original.
Favre threw too many interceptions in some seasons, particularly recently. But his frailties were always part of what made him easy to root for. Favre never pretended to be perfect. Unlike a lot of quarterbacks in this era of West Coast offenses, he was never afraid to fail. He didn't play for passer ratings. Favre fired it in there, no matter how many shades of purple his head coach turned along the way. He made coaches and fans scream, "No, no, no, no … YES!"
Quite a few quarterbacks have put up incredible numbers and/or won championships. Favre did that, too, but he became an icon for the other things. He's up there with Unitas, Montana and Elway.
-- Mike Sando
Pasquarelli: No. 5 sounds about right
It's always hard to quantify quarterbacks because of the different eras in which they played, and the way the game has evolved. Could a quarterback such as Otto Graham or Sid Luckman have been successful in the modern era? It's one of those great bar-room debates. But in any discussion about the Mount Rushmore of NFL quarterbacks, Brett Favre certainly belongs in the debate.
I didn't always start my list with Johnny Unitas, but I do now, because, to me, he invented the position in the modern era of the game. And you've got to include Joe Montana, who I ranked No. 1 just three years ago. After that, as is almost always the case in assessing quarterbacks, the argument becomes subjective.
Favre clearly is in the top 10, probably on the fringe of the top five; in fact, I had him No. 5 in that 2004 ranking.Wherever he ranks, of this I'm certain: The folks in Canton can start working on the bust right now.
-- Len Pasquarelli