You're Wrong About Brett Favre's 2009 Season

If you think 2009 was Brett Favre’s greatest season as a professional football player, you quite simply do not know what you’re talking about.

Brett Favre's back-to-back-to-back NFL MVP seasons in the mid-90's compare favorably to his 2009 season with Minnesota.

Brett Favre's back-to-back-to-back NFL MVP seasons in the mid-90's compare favorably to his 2009 season with Minnesota.

Here’s why.

2009 was an undeniably great season for Brett Favre. It was probably his best season after 2000. It was probably his best season from 1998 to the end of his career, but not his best season in the NFL. Not even close.

2009 was a very good season. 1995, 1996, and 1997 were among the best seasons any football player had ever played. They were revolutionary, transformative seasons, and even among the stats of today, they would stack up very well.

Let’s look at some of the numbers.

In 2009, Favre went 363 of 531 passing, a completion total of 68.4%, the best mark of his career. He threw for 4,202 yards, 33 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. It was a very, very good season, among the league’s best that year.

He was second in passing touchdown to Drew Brees. He was second to Brees in passer rating as well. He came in ninth in overall passing yards. In interception percentage, a great efficiency stat, Favre tied for the league lead with Aaron Rodgers at 1.3%.

But let’s take a look at where his numbers that season rank among the all-time greats. Through 2009, Favre’s passer rating mark of 107.2 was good for 14th best all-time. Today, that number has been surpassed again and again and again. Favre’s 2009 season now ranks 25th all-time. Aaron Rodgers has posted three seasons better than that.

I don’t know if that shows specifically that Rodgers’ 2011, 2012, and 2014 seasons were that much better than Favre’s, but it does show that the game has changed. I would argue that Favre’s 2009 season wasn’t so much a result of him playing especially well, though he did. But it’s evidence of how much the league had changed since Favre’s heyday in the mid-90’s and 2009.

Let’s look, then, at Favre’s MVP campaigns and see how they stack up compared to 2009 and all-time.

1995 was probably Favre’s greatest MVP campaign, though 1996 was great as well. That year, he completed 359 passes for 4,413 yards and 38 touchdowns. Sure, he had 13 interceptions. Sure, he only completed 63% of his passes. But at the time, that completion percentage was sixth in the league. His passing yardage was the best in the NFL. His overall passer rating was second in the NFL behind, oddly enough, Jim Harbaugh.

Among the all-time leaders through 1995, Favre’s 4,413 yards was twelfth in NFL history. His season in 2009 was good for just 26th of all-time at the time it happened, and it how now been surpassed many times since.

His 38 touchdowns in 1995 were, at the time, the third best total ever. Today, it’s still the 18th best total ever. Those 33 touchdowns in 2009? Very good, but pretty pedestrian in the era. Even in 1995, 33 touchdowns would only have been good for a tie for seventh best ever.

As good as Favre was in 2009, it’s absurd to say it’s his greatest season ever. Just his 1995 season alone was better compared to how he stacked up against his contemporaries and all-time.

1995, 1996, and 1997 were revolutionary seasons for NFL quarterbacks. No one had really put up numbers like that regularly, and nobody did it for a long time afterwards, either.

Just for one final comparison, if Favre’s 1995 season had been transported through time to 2009, he would still have led the league in touchdown passes. He was markedly better in many other categories, touchdown percentage for one, than an older, wiser Favre, and he did it without an all-time great running back behind him in Adrian Peterson.

People forget that in 2009, Peterson led the league in rushing touchdowns with 18. He was also fifth in rushing yards. Favre never had anything close to that during the Packers’ run in the 90’s. Dorsey Levens and Edgar Bennett were fine, but it was the Brett Favre show.

He carried those teams, and to say what he did then was less impressive than what he did in 2009 just shows an ignorance to the past and what he did at the time.

This article is an adapted transcription of this week’s episode of Blue 58, a Packers podcast from The Power Sweep. Subscribe on iTunes and Google Play today.

AnalysisJon Meerdink