Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Brett Favre Mirrors Y.A. Tittle

Watching Brett Farve lead the 1-3 Minnesota Vikings to another loss, as he tossed 20 incompletions in 34 attempts and added to his NFL records of most interceptions and fumbles coughed up, one couldn't help but see Y.A. Tittle.

Farve has defied all the odds since the Atlanta Falcons drafted him in the second round way back in 1991. He moved on to the Green Bay Packers the next year, leading them to two Super Bowls and winning one over 16 seasons.

He has set too many records to count almost. Yes he played in an era where playing quarterback is nowhere nearly as difficult nor physically taxing as it once was, but he has done it better than anyone in his era so far.

Men like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are nipping on the heels of several of his records, but they both have a ways to go. A long ways in many instances.

It wasn't just the fact Farve won with a gun slinging mentality that earned him millions of fans, it was how he won in the face of mortality after family death and an ill mate. His 2009 season amazed many.

He made his 11th Pro Bowl at the age of 40, and statistically had the best year of his Hall of Fame career. The three-time NFL MVP seemed ageless, and drew respect of even those perturbed by his waffling of retiring and un-retiring with a diva mentality.

ESPN also brought a lot of that ire on him. It is no secret Favre is close with many on the network, but their on-air fellatio of their deity grew sickening as it has run on a 24-hour loop since 2007.

As he was flopping around in the first half on their loss Monday to the New York Jets, broadcast by ESPN, the announcers seemed contractually obligated to express adoration of Farve every 30 seconds.

At one point, it seemed each member of the broadcast booth wished he had sexually harassed him instead of three other women. Who knows what they are doing with the purported pictures of Favre's genitals.

Even after Farve lazily coughed up three fumbles via poor fundamentals, losing two, the announcers sickeningly sought excuses for him rather than be objective broadcast journalists.

The second half brought him success, as he almost got Minnesota back in the game courtesy of two touchdown passes. One was a lollipop pass to recently acquired Randy Moss that brought back memories of the time Tittle invented the alley-oop pass to R.C. Owens in the 1950's.

Yelberton Abraham Tittle was the first round draft pick of the Detroit Lions in 1948, the sixth overall selection. He opted to join the Baltimore Colts of the All-American Football Conference instead, and the team won just nine games in his three years there in a league dominated by the Cleveland Browns.

Tittle has led the league in passing attempts, completions, yards gained per completion and attempt, interception percentage, as well as interceptions, at least once in his time with the Colts, who were woefully undermanned.

He found himself with the San Francisco 49ers in 1950 after the Colts folded. He spent three years as a backup to Frankie Albert, a Pro Bowler who was the Chicago Bears first round pick in 1942, but had joined the Niners in 1946 after serving in World War Two.

Albert retired after a sub par 1952 season where Tittle started five times. Tittle's first year as started in 1953 saw the Niners lead the league by averaging a whopping 31 points per game. San Francisco finished second in their division during a time only division winners go to the postseason.

Though Tittle had weapons like Billy Wilson, Gordon Soltau, R.C. Owens, and the "Million Dollar Backfield" that consisted of Hall of Famers Joe "Jet" Perry, Hugh McElhenny, and John Henry Johnson, the Niners could never win it all.

A team that many consider the greatest ever to never win a title, they named Albert the head coach in 1956, and drafted quarterback John Brodie with the third overall pick in 1957.

That year saw the Niners make their first NFL postseason, but they lost to the eventual champion Detroit Lions in the fourth quarter 31-27.

Tittle's next three years saw him mostly injured, though he made the Pro Bowl in 1959, as Brodie became ready to take control of the team. San Francisco then traded the 35-year old Tittle to the New York Giants for Lou Cordileone, their first round draft choice in 1960, just before the 1961 season.

Tittle defied expert opinion by defying his age in an era where it was much more difficult to play quarterback in the NFL. He went to three straight Pro Bowls as the Giants lost five times total over the three seasons.

After leading the league in touchdown passes in 1962, he did it again the next year, as well as completion percentage, touchdown percentage, and yards gained per completion at 37-years old.

Then Father Time came calling and cashed in his chips in 1964. The Giants great teams had aged and were gone, so this team was full of youth and little talent. The few older players that remained were a shell of what they once were.

New York finished last in defense and second to last in offense. Tittle took a tremendous beating, winning just once in his nine starts. A famous picture was taken of him that year realizing it was all over for him and football.

Though Tittle never won a championship, despite leading the Giants to three of them, the seven-time Pro Bowler, who won the NFL MVP trophy twice, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1971.

He still holds the record for seven touchdown passes in a game, and was the first of just eight quarterback in NFL history to have 30-touchdown passes in consecutive seasons. Farve is one of the other eight.

Tittle's 36 touchdown passes in 1963 was an NFL record until Hall of Famer Dan Marino broke it in 1984 under newer rules that made it easier to play quarterback in the NFL.

It still remains tied for ninth most ever, and the 37-year old Tittle is easily the oldest on the list. A 30-year old Tom Brady set the record in 2007 under even newer rules that have made it much, much easier to be an NFL quarterback.

Farve's 2010 season seems to be resembling Tittle's 1964 year somewhat. The Vikings are losing like the Giants did that year, and Farve has tossed seven interceptions in just four games. He threw that same amount in the entire 2007 season, a career low mark.

The one difference is surrounding talent. Farve has Pro Bowlers like Adrian Peterson, Randy Moss, Percy Harvin, Bryant McKinnie, and Steve Hutchinson helping him on offense. Tittle only had Hall of Famer Rosey Brown as a Pro Bowler, along with tight end Aaron Thomas make his only Pro Bowl in 1964.

Minnesota was, and perhaps still is, expected to be a team with Super Bowl ability this year, unlike the fact few expected much from the 1964 Giants. The season has a long way to go for the Vikings, but their start has to have everyone cheering for the organization concerned.

The hope is that Farve stops playing like he is 41 and washed up, rediscovering the fountain youth that led the Vikings to the NFC Championship last year. Hope that Father Time has not yet cashed in those eventual chips, that we all one day will see, yet again.

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