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Special: Brett Favre vs Aaron Rodgers

I understand that this is “The Basketball Blog” and that I’m supposed to write about the NBA.  Allow me to deviate from that path for a moment and discuss my favorite NFL team, the Green Bay Packers, and the comments made by Greg Jennings about Rodgers and Favre.

I understand having an allegiance to your current QB, I get that.  The comments were likely coerced by the media.  I understand all the “what have you done for me lately” Packer fans that sing the praises of Aaron Rodgers and whine about Brett becoming a Viking and “betraying Green Bay.”  I get all that, and trust me, I understand. [1]

But to say that Aaron Rodgers at this time is better than Favre? I mean are you kidding me?  I think part of the conundrum is that at this time we remember Brett Favre as Brett Favre circa 2007-2010: The aging gun-slinger, game manager, picking his spots, and getting picked off in two NFC Championship Games and costing his team a shot at a Superbowl. [2]  Fans forget how amazing Favre was.  I recently received the “Green Bay Packers’ Greatest Games” on DVD, which is pretty much “Brett Favre’s Greatest Games,” and watched the Superbowl victory from Favre and also, his Monday Night Football performance after his dad’s death.  All I could say was, “Wow.”  Especially the Monday Night performance.  Go here and watch these highlights from it.  I have NEVER seen a quarterback play with as much passion, with as much determination as Brett Favre ever did.  Look at his accuracy in those highlights.  He was ON FIRE.  And the crazy thing was, it wasn’t that crazy to see him playing like this.  We had grown somewhat accustomed to it as Packer fans and this was just icing on the cake.  Even the die-hard Raider fans gave him an ovation.  That’s respect!  A close friend of mine is a Raiders’ fan and every time we talk about Brett Favre (whom he loves and thinks is one of the best) he talks about that game and he said, “You can’t be angry about it, because he was just that good.”

Favre had tons of memorable games

How many of those games did Favre have?  A dozen? More?  He was just remembered by how great he is.  How many does Aaron Rodgers have?  I honestly can’t think of even one in his young career.  He has been consistent, like a machine, but is that really all on him?  Again, the team he inherited was built and ready to contend.   The year before he started they were 13-3 and in the NFC Championship.  His first year they went 6-10. They had to wait for him to catch up.  I can’t help but think of this great season by Rodgers and then think of how it ended.  The last week of the season, he sits out and Matt Flynn goes nuts on the Lions, throwing 480 yards, 6 TDs and completing 70% of his passes.  Wait, what?! His backup did that?  Can you imagine if Favre decided to sit out a game in the 90s to “rest” and then Doug Pederson came in and did exactly the same things he did?  We wouldn’t look at Favre the same.  And quite frankly, after that game I was a little dubious about Aaron Rodgers.

Then the playoffs came.  The (now despised) New York Giants came to Lambeau for the first game since…wait, 2008 when the Giants beat us in Favre’s last Packers game.  The Packers, now rested for two whole weeks, come out looking sloppy and unable to stop anyone or anything on the Giants roster.  It was pathetic.  Receivers dropping passes, the defense blowing assignments, and Rodgers doing what he could to keep them in the game.  He rushed for 66 yards, which was impressive, but he was also sacked four times.  He also fumbled once and lost the fumble.[3]  He threw a late, meaningless pick.  A pretty subpar game from Aaron Rodgers.  I was texting my buddy, another Packer fan throughout the game, and kept warning him that the entire game was strangely reminiscent of the 2008 NFC Championship against the Giants.  For some reason, the Packers just couldn’t pull it together and for some reason, I didn’t have much hope that Rodgers could will them to win.

That brings us back to our original question: Who is better: Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers?   I think it’s fair to

Rodgers is great, but is he better than Favre?

examine the numbers, but how can you examine the numbers for a guy who played 20 years in the NFL and set every passing record there is?  What I did, was take an average of Favre’s three consecutive MVP years (arguably his best years) and compared them to the last three years of Aaron Rodgers’ career (his rise to prominence):

Favre: 329 completions, 542 attempts, 60.7% completion percentage, 4,059 yds, 37 TDs, 14 INTs, 6 fumbles, 96.0 QB rating, 168 yds rushing, 2 TDs rushing

Rodgers: 335 completions, 506 attempts, 66.2% completion percentage, 4,333 yds, 34 TDs, 7 INTs, 4 fumbles, 109.0 QB rating, 309 yds rushing, 4 TDs rushing

Somewhat surprisingly, the numbers are actually very similar.  I think it’s fair to say that Brett Favre in his prime would’ve put up similar numbers to Aaron Rodgers right now, given the discrepancies in the two eras in which the two men play.  In Favre’s prime, you could defend receivers, cripple QBs, and give standing ovations for WRs being carted off the field.  In Rodgers’ current prime, we’re more worried about player safety and players not developing debilitating brain injuries after their playing days are over.  It’s a safer and less violent NFL that Rodgers is quarterbacking in.  Just this season alone, three quarterbacks cracked 5,000 yards.   Again, Matt freakin’ Flynn through for almost 500 yards and 6 TDs in the last game of the season!

Look, I love Aaron Rodgers and I am thankful he’s our QB for the future, but in my opinion, saying that Rodgers is better than Favre, at any stage in his career is just asinine.  Favre was one of the greatest QBs of all-time and in-time Rodgers, given some longevity, may reach such a valued status.  But you could ask me, still today, who I’d rather have in the fourth quarter and my answer hasn’t changed.  It’s still Brett Favre. [4]

1. Look, I’m a Chicago Bulls fan (if you couldn’t tell by the blood red background and the prominence of three Chicago Bulls in the banner at the top) and look what happened in 1999. Jerry Krause told Phil Jackson, Michael Jordan, and Scottie Pippen, arguably the greatest coach, player, and top fifteen player of all-time, that organizations and not players, win championships. This led to the Bulls launching a 1998-1999 squad featuring Ron Harper, Toni Kukoc, Luc Longley, and the immortal Randy Brown as the featured talent. I remember, vaguely, someone looking like Michael Jordan in a Wizards jersey stuffing Ron Mercer with two hands on a fast break. I understand when our beloved heroes move on.

But I do not understand the Green Bay Packers’ fanbase insistence on hating Brett Favre. Hate him for what? For Thompson asking him shortly after a crippling loss in the NFC Championship game, “Hey, Brett. Um, I don’t know if you’ve thought about it or not, but are you retiring or not?” And Favre said he was. Is that surprising? I’ve always wanted to quit after a crippling loss and I don’t play sports for a living! Then, he came back and they told their quarterback, whom brought the franchise back to relevance mind you, and started EVERY SINGLE GAME since his debut in 1992 that he would have to compete against a then-unproven Aaron Rodgers and again, they just made the NFC Championship the year before and would likely repeat. Then after insulting their legend they didn’t even have the decency to trade him to a destination he wanted to play at. We hear a lot of times how players insult the teams they play for (see: James, Lebron) and betray them, but what about organizations that screw their stars, the guys that again, start every game for sixteen freaking years? I digress….

2. I think these are bogus. Yes, he threw them, but the circumstances around them were not in his control. In 2008 when he threw the one against the Giants, it was similar to this year’s game against the Giants. Guys simply froze up and Favre had to do more than what he had all year, but no one else was with him. Don’t forget he tied the game on a TD pass and Ryan Grant, who was a 1,000 yard rusher that year, simply wasn’t there. Against New Orleans, they HAD THE GAME WON and someone committed a false start moving them outside field goal range. Watching the play, all Favre had to do was run for a first down, but the Saints cheapshotted him earlier in the game and eventually (in my opinion) ended his career with that grotesque ankle injury and he couldn’t run for it. He should’ve made the correct pass yes, but in the heat of the moment he was trying to make the best play he could and it turned out awful. I think those two passes should be forgivable, but people love to hold them against him.

3. I don’t know why this always gets forgotten, but Aaron Rodgers, other than his playoff performance last year, fumbled and it was returned for a TD against the Cardinals in the playoffs two years ago and he lost another crucial fumble against the Giants this year. If we are going to talk about Favre’s INTs, it’s only fair that we mention Rodgers and his fumbles.

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4. But as a Green Bay Packer fan, I think we should continue to support Rodgers, but don’t forget to honor the Hall-of-Famer that came before him. Realize, that he gave most of his career to being a Packer and celebrate the years that he spent entertaining us. He deserves it.

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Derrick Rose

I’m going to be honest, this post has sat in my draft for a couple of weeks ever since the Bulls played the Clippers on December 30th.   I felt I needed to write something about Derrick Rose, but I wasn’t sure what to say.  He’s been my favorite NBA player  since Scottie Pippen left the league and he’s playing for my favorite team.  I love watching him play, I love his demeanor, I love his talent.  He’s the first jersey of an NBA player that I’ve bought since Michael Jordan (no, not his Wizards one. A Bulls one in 1997).

After watching Derrick’s performance against the self-proclaimed “Lob City” that night, I said to myself, “Man.  Am I crazy or is he the absolute best player in the NBA right now?”  I remember watching Derrick his rookie season and how he exploded against Boston in Game 1 of the playoffs. I remember thinking to myself, “We have an All-Star on our hands.  A potential superstar!”  I remember watching him try and lead the obviously overmatched Bulls against Lebron and the Cavalier’s his second season and falling short.  I remember feeling like a proud father when he was playing alongside some of the NBA’s finest on Team USA last summer.

Derrick Rose already played for Team USA in 2010 and he's likely to represent them in the 2012 Olympics in London

I remember watching his ascension last season and reading John Hollinger’s ridiculous arguments that Dwight Howard was the MVP when virtually everyone could clearly see it was Derrick Rose.  I remember watching his 44 point torching of Atlanta in the playoffs and thinking to myself, “I have not seen anything like this since MJ was a Bull.”  I remember being bothered by his injuries in the postseason and watching him jack up threes against Miami like he was Steve Kerr and practically trying to will him from my couch to drive to the basket.  I remember his dejected look as the Bulls got bounced from the playoffs and thought to myself, “If the rumors are true and he’s as competitive as everyone says he is, he’s going to be awesome next year.”

This season has been a continuation from last season.  Derrick is maturing as an NBA player and you can see it.  I’ve been fortunate enough to watch almost every Bulls game this season (except for opening day.  Me, being a caveman, tried to record it on a VCR that happened to get unplugged.  As a die-hard NBA fan who was dying to see my Bulls play, I could’ve killed my dog that night. I digress….) and the way he approaches the game has changed.  He’s more aggressive defensively all game long.  Offensively, he dominates the first and fourth quarters and takes what the defense gives him in quarters two and three.  He is doing a better job of getting Boozer going during those stretches when he backs off.  He is handling double teams better, he’s getting everyone involved throughout the game, and he’s doing a better job of getting to the line.  He has evolved from a high energy, efficient scorer to someone who dominates the game for 48 minutes.  He has become an NBA superstar.

D-Rose has matured as a player this season.

Well, he’s become an NBA superstar in all but one sense: The obvious fame and recognition that he’s been blessed with hasn’t given him any arrogance or any semblance of an ego whatsoever.  His demeanor is reminiscent of Tim Duncan’s: He’s calm, he’s competitive, and he shows how good he is by his play and not his mouth.  He’s the NBA’s marketing dream and it’s paying off.   Derrick is third in All-Star voting behind Dwight Howard (first) and Kobe Bryant (second).  That’s pretty good company.

Of course, his ascension will never be complete until he wins an NBA championship.  You can bet that he wants another shot at Lebron and the Miami Heat too.  He mentioned this offseason how he took all the blame for losing to Miami in the playoffs.  That’s what leaders, that’s what superstars do.  They take the blame as well as the glory and when they fail, they rise to the occasion.

We’ll see if D-Rose rises to the occasion this season and cements his place among the NBA’s elite.

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