By Cold, Hard Football Facts contributor Brendan Hughes
If the NFL were an old Disney yarn, Brett Favre would be Old Yeller – the loyal dog who, as a young pup with a lot of a giddy-up, saved his buddy Travis from one misadventure after another. Old Yeller was, in his early days, the best dog on the frontier, and he and Travis grew to love each other.
But even Travis, a 12-year-old boy in a children's movie, had enough sense to know when Old Yeller had outlived his usefulness. The tear-jerker (not that we cried) ends with Travis putting a bullet between rabid Old Yeller's eyes.
It's time for Green Bay management to heed the lesson of Old Yeller and put Favre out of his indecisive misery. Cut him today and reclaim the franchise from the feeble mind, wayward arm and rabid jaws of a slobbering old quarterback.
Favre was the biggest dog in the NFL 10 years ago. Today, he's an aging mongrel who's infected with the quarterbacking equivalent of rabies: the INT bug.
As the Cold, Hard Football Facts were the first to detail last season, Favre was almost singularly responsible for Green Bay's 4-12 record in 2005.
The Chief Cheesehead threw 29 interceptions in 2005, 12 more than the No. 2 men on the list (Drew Bledsoe, Aaron Brooks and Eli Manning). No active quarterback has thrown more INTs in a single season (Bledsoe came closest with 27 INTs in 1994). The last time a QB threw more INTs than Favre did last year was in 1988, when Vinny Testaverde tossed 35 INTs, which stands second on the all-time single-season list (George Blanda, 42, in 1962).
If Favre disgraces us with his presence next year, it's possible that he'll take the all-time interceptions mark into the Hall of Fame. He's just 22 INTs from the record.
All-time interception leaders:
  • George Blanda, 277
  • John Hadl, 268
  • Fran Tarkenton, 266
  • Vinny Testaverde, 261
  • Norm Snead, 257
  • Brett Favre, 255
If, by some miracle, Favre were to return and lead Green Bay to the playoffs, he could also challenge the all-time postseason interception record:
All-time postseason interception leaders:
  • Jim Kelly, 28
  • Brett Favre, 26
  • Terry Bradshaw, 26
  • Dan Marino, 24
The Cold, Hard Football Facts proved last season that interceptions are the single biggest difference between playoff wins and losses, more decisive than TD passes. Quarterbacks who throw INTs lose games. Favre throws INTs. You do the math. Hey, there's a reason why Green Bay has won just two playoff games since 1997.
Favre has had several disastrous playoff performances and is the the only quarterback in the past 50 years to throw 6 INTs in a single playoff game (2001 vs. St. Louis). He shares this single-game postseason INT record with Frank Filchock, N.Y. Giants, 1946; Bobby Layne, Detroit, 1954; and Norm Van Brocklin, L.A. Rams, 1955.
Favre loyalists point out that he's just 24 TD passes shy of trying Dan Marino's record (420). That's true. But if 2005 was any indication, Favre is more likely to break the INT record than the TD record in 2006.
  • Favre is 24 passes shy of the TD record but threw just 20 TDs last year.
  • Favre is 22 passes shy of the INT record and threw 29 INTs last year.
And Favre's not just rising up the INT chart, he's shifting into a higher gear. At the height of his career a decade ago – his three MVP seasons came in 1995, 1996, 1997 – Favre averaged more than 40 attempts for each INT. Those numbers have generally declined since then. Last season, he threw 1 INT every 20.9 attempts.
His ability to find the end zone has generally declined, too. At the height of his career a decade ago, Favre averaged fewer than 18 attempts for every TD pass. Last season, he threw 1 TD every 30.3 attempts.
O.K., so Favre today is inefficient – so were plenty of other great quarterbacks. But none held their team hostage, demanded to be involved with personnel decisions, laughed at team ultimatums, joked about the impotence of management or boldly claimed that they alone held the authority to decide when and how they left the game.
"What will they do, cut me?" said Favre last month to a reporter from a Mississippi newspaper, mocking Green Bay management and fans in the process.
Unfortunately, Green Bay fans and management are enabling Favre to hold the franchise hostage. Fans seem content to have him back – just one-third said he should retire in a recent poll in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Management, meanwhile, simply does not have the stones to do the right thing: cut this mangy mutt. Not only would Green Bay rid itself of its most destructive onfield performer, it would save nearly $5 million against the cap next year and more in the future. You can shore up plenty of holes on both sides of the ball with $5 million. Instead, Green Bay's big offseason move was to fire coach Mike Sherman.
The national media, meanwhile, continue to be filled with Favre apologists. A clueless Bill Syken of Sports recently wrote:
"No one should be pushing Favre out the door. The reasons are: one, he only lives once, and two, if he feels like playing and he's able to do it, he should do it ... There's no going back for these years once they're gone. The next life comes soon enough."
Yes, Favre "only lives once." But the same goes for the 52 other guys on the team who – on average – have but a four-year career in which to make a sizable paycheck and win a Super Bowl. Favre has held these careers and livelihoods hostage through his historically inept play and, now, through his indecision. Green Bay management should show a little loyalty to everyone else in the organization. The big dog Favre has already had his day in the sun.
Let's be clear: Favre is not on the downhill of his career. He's at the bottom of Has-Been Valley. History shows that no quarterback has ever been spared the bullet. Joe Montana and Johnny Unitas ended up in strange uniforms when their teams had no more use for them. And here's the real hypocrisy: A couple bad years were enough for Green Bay fans to push out Bart Starr – who is the greatest postseason passer (104.8 rating) in NFL history and owns four more championship rings than Favre.
Favre was never as consistently great as those quarterbacks, and yet fans, media and, more importantly, Green Bay management, continue to pamper and coddle him like a newborn pooch. The organization seems to fear life without Favre, as if an aging, mistake-prone player whose best years are a decade behind him and who can barely play fetch is somehow irreplaceable.
Favre has already proven that he can't make this decision on his own. But neither could Old Yeller. At least little Travis had the common sense to make the decision for him.