When Brett Favre retired from the NFL, he held all the passing records, even the bad ones. He was a three-time MVP and won a Super Bowl. And yet, he is rarely considered the best quarterback – or even among the best quarterbacks – to have ever played the game.
Why is that? Is it because he was too erratic and just as likely to throw a game-ending interception as he was to throw a game-winning touchdown?
“I don’t think I have a problem with that so much,” former Packers safety LeRoy Butler said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “But if you look at Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana, even Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning – the multiple-championship winners, that’s what they talk about in the barbershop. How many championships does he have? And now I have to fold up into my little fetal position and wait until they get back to the all-time leader in games. He’s never missed a game. That kind of stuff, that helps my argument. What do you want? A guy that’s in every single game, who’s never missed a game, or a guy that’s on some great teams and won multiple championships? Again, they want the championships.”
Butler, 48, spent his entire NFL career in Green Bay, where he played from 1990 to 2001. He was a four-time Pro Bowler and won a Super Bowl with Favre.
“I used to tell people all the time, every time I looked to my left, if I saw Reggie White getting dressed, I knew we had a chance to win,” Butler said. “If I looked to my right and saw No. 4 getting dressed, I knew we were going to win. A lot of guys can’t play with people like that. As a defender – because I was there in ’92 when he first got there from Atlanta – and he didn’t know what to expect. In practice, he throws an interception and he’s kicking dirt and he’s looking down. I went over to him and I said, ‘Brett, you got to understand something. That’s part of the game. Don’t you change the way you play. If you throw an interception, don’t worry about it. It’s our job as a defense to go and get it back. Just play, and we’re okay with it.’”
Green Bay has certainly been spoiled when it comes to quarterbacks, going from Favre to Aaron Rodgers. Yet, while both have multiple MVPs and a Super Bowl ring, they couldn’t be more different.
“For the last 25 or so years, if you’re a Packers fan, you’ve only had two quarterbacks,” Butler said. “We just talked about Brett – how much people revere him, they want to be like him, and he let you into his world. He wears the flannel shirts to the black-tie events. If he combs his hair, it’s a plus. Aaron is a little bit more guarded. So to Packers fans, with Aaron, it’s about just on the field. On the field, he’s been remarkable. Off the field, and even his brother, I think, kind of pulled the curtain back about the relationship with his family, Aaron just wants to keep it professional and keep it moving. ‘I’m a great quarterback, I didn’t have the year I wanted to have, but for the most part, since I’ve been under center, we’ve been relevant.’ So for the first three years, I gave him a pass because he didn’t play that much. He’s really a 29-year-old quarterback instead of 32.
“That’s my Florida State math,” Butler said, laughing. “I hope that’s correct.”
If it’s not, Brandon Tierney joked, we’ll still keep you eligible.
“But my thing is, Aaron is really feeling some of the Brett Favre pressure (because) Brett Favre is going into the Hall of Fame (and reminding fans) of what kind of quarterback he was off the field,” Butler said. “People, they’re thinking Aaron was going to be like Brett, but they’re totally different. Aaron has an A-list Hollywood girlfriend; Brett has a wife who’s going to induct him into the Hall of Fame who’s been with him since he was 16 years old. That’s Wisconsin. People (here) don’t really get into all that Hollywood (stuff). We don’t even have TMZ in Wisconsin. We don’t allow that. And I think that’s a good thing.”