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Buffet: The men behind The Man
Yes, Tony Romo, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning would certainly get some serious consideration. But in the end, I'd be hard pressed choosing someone other than the ol' gunslinger from Gulfport, Miss. Sunday's performance against San Diego was downright magical. Favre willed his team to victory, as he's done 149 times before, and tied Dan Marino's career touchdown record with a game-winning, 57-yard strike to Greg Jennings in the final two minutes. It was just another chapter in a storybook season for No. 4. The slant pass has been working, the pump fake's never looked better and he's throwing the ball better than any quarterback in the entire league. And Green Bay is sitting on top of the NFC North at 3-0.
Over the past couple of years, there's been a simmering bit of Brett Favre-related nausea buzzing on the Internet. Revolting after years of idolization, there appeared to be a minor backlash of sorts against the future Hall of Fame quarterback. Writers and bloggers alike began hinting that Brett should hang 'em up; some calling him selfish. He waited until the middle of the spring in 2005 before deciding on whether to return for the 2006 campaign. He then chose Super Bowl week, of all times, to announce he'd return to the game this season. Though the majority of the mainstream media rejoiced over the news, there were some quiet whispers and rolling eyes questioning the decision.
Well, there are no questions now.
And at this point, it's hard not to just root for the guy. At 37, Favre's everyone's cool uncle who has the motorcycle and the list of one-liners. He's been around forever, knows all the tricks, and just loves the game. In an era where quarterbacks are handed the world before accomplishing anything (see: JaMarcus Russell, Matt Leinart) -- Favre's earned everything he's got. Every yard, every win, it's been all No. 4 in Green Bay. Seeing Favre under center, doing those wild pump fakes and celebrating in the end zone with a pat on the helmet after a score has become as much a Sunday tradition in this country as "The Simpsons" or "Meet the Press." He's been at the same job for a decade and a half, loves what he does, and has fun doing it. He's currently playing some of the best football of his career. If he stays healthy, there's no reason to believe he won't be back next year, doing the same thing.
Which leads to the 2007 Packers storyline nobody's really talking about: The guy wearing No. 12 on Green Bay's sideline.
Yes, for the third straight season, Aaron Rodgers, a former bona fide college star at Cal and a first-round pick of the Packers in 2005, stands on the side with a clipboard, patiently, but respectfully, waiting his turn. Rodgers had a terrific camp this summer, and by all accounts, is more than ready to be an NFL starting quarterback. Yet, while the other first-round quarterbacks in his draft class -- Alex Smith of San Francisco and Jason Campbell of Washington -- are now entrenched as the starting quarterbacks of both the present and future of their respective franchises, Rodgers waits his turn to get a shot. And waits. And then waits some more.
Tom Petty once said that the waiting is the hardest part.
Rodgers likely knows about that all too well.
Of course, he's not the first to endure such a fate. In fact, Rodgers is just one card-carrying member of a rather wide-ranging club. When a guy starts 241 consecutive games, there's bound to be a group of players who've backed him up. In Favre's case, the list is a virtual "Who's Who" of NFL starting quarterbacks from the past decade and a half. There are Super Bowl QBs, wily veterans and longtime journeymen. Some were college legends, others relative unknowns. A few went on to have prosperous careers elsewhere; others never quite got their chance.
There's a recurring skit on "Saturday Night Live" about the "Five Timers Club". Nineteen people have hosted the program at least five times, and the number's become kind of a benchmark. Five-timers include names like Alec Baldwin, Christopher Walken, Steve Martin, John Goodman and Danny DeVito. When Tom Hanks referenced the club in a 1990 monologue, he held up a shiny card, noting "The fifth time you do the show is the most special time of all, because you get this ... a membership card in the Five-Timers Club. Come with me ... I'm gonna give you a chance to look in on one of the most exclusive clubs in the world."
The "Favre Backup Club" could quite very well be the NFL equivalent to the "Five Timers Club". Though names like T.J. Rubley and Rick Mirer likely won't bring about any memories of Bart Starr, there's something to be said for this elite group of men. If they do not have cards proving their membership, they probably should. I want to suggest a yearly gathering for all of Favre's former backups. They could all gather in Racine on a random Saturday, eat some of the world's finest cheeses, and then watch "There's Something About Mary" on loop. Can't you just see Steve Bono chuckling over a few brews, howling "Man, that hair gel scene just never gets old!"?
Card membership and fictional yearly reunions held in Wisconsin suburbs aside, let's check out the top 12 members of this very exclusive club:
And that's just the start of it. We didn't even get to Bob Gagliano and Henry Burris!
The fact of the matter is this: Rodgers is not the first quarterback to spend his Sundays on the Packers sideline watching Favre take snaps. Among those 12 alone, there are multiple Pro Bowls, playoff wins, and Super Bowl rings. Rodgers is still only 23-years-old, and if anything, his time learning from ol' No. 4 is for his own good.
Even if he is forced to wait a bit.
After all, what more could you ask for? He's learning the ropes from the league's current MVP.