Brett Favre's return to the NFL to play for the Vikings will likely be viewed as a success. It wasn't a "win the Super Bowl or bust" situation; Personally at the beginning of the season I figured it would be enough to get the Vikings a few extra wins, but I didn't see them being better than the Giants, Panthers, or Saints.
Well, I was right about one of those teams, wasn't I? (The Panthers) We'll see if I was right about the Saints this week.
Favre didn't need another playoff run to cement his legacy though. He's not Kurt Warner, he's Brett Favre. What Favre needs, and has needed since 1997, is another Super Bowl victory.
Favre currently is the NFL leader in almost every important career achievement at QB besides two important ones, most MVP's, and Super Bowl rings. Favre will need at least another ring to retire as "the greatest QB of all time." With two rings, his tremendous stats and starts-streak will his name over legends like Unitas, Elway, and Montana. It will also separate him from that pesky Manning kid who is already inching in on every major record of Brett's.
If Favre can beat Manning, that would be even bigger. Kind of like when Elway beat Favre in Super Bowl XXXII. Having a head-to-head win in a Super Bowl against a statistical nemesis does wonders for ones legacy.
It's arguable that Favre can even afford to get to the Super Bowl as lose this year and still cement his legacy. There's a strong chance that even with a second ring, people would still consider Elway, Montana, Unitas, and eventually Manning better than #4. A Super Bowl appearance at age 40 would guarantee Favre's name be in the debate at the very least.
But if Favre doesn't win this week, then his decade of "choke" will always be solidified. Losing to the Saints will join "4th and 26," "6 INT's in St. Louis," "Losing at Lambeau to Vick," "Randy Moss mooning the crowd," "collapsing down the stretch on Broadway," and "OT interception" as the defining moments of Brett Favre in the 00's. Despite getting to the conference championship at age 40, he'll be more remembered as the QB who got zero rings in six playoff appearances in the 00's. Only Donovan McNabb can herald those sort of numbers, and he at least went to a Super Bowl this decade.
Brett Favre can not afford to have an entire decade in the league without going to the Super Bowl and be considered the best QB of all time. Without another Super Bowl appearance it will be hard to even consider Favre top five all time, with greats such as the aforementioned Unitas, Montana, Elway in his way, along with the legacy of Otto Graham and the rising legend of Peyton Manning. Unfortunately for Brett Favre, with only one Super Bowl win, and only two appearances in the big game, Favre will be stuck somewhere in the same sentence as guys like Dan Marino (all numbers, no rings), Tom Brady (three rings, some numbers, system quarterback), Terry Bradshaw (four rings, no numbers), Bart Starr (plenty of titles, lives in the shadow of Unitas' legacy), and Sammy Baugh.
There's about 50,000 quarterbacks who give their right arm to hear their names called in the same sentence as those quarterbacks, but not Brett Favre. He didn't start all those games in a row, come back four times, and almost ruin his legacy in order to be considered all-time tier 2. No, Favre did it to cement himself as the greatest of all time. The Babe Ruth of football.
Brett has his opportunity to get there this Sunday. A win and he's in the top tier, a loss and he's second tier.
No matter what tier Brett ends up on, enjoy watching him play this week. Because as always, it may be his last game.