Well, the Annual Brett Favre Season Ending Injury Story has made it to the press, and this season it's the ankle. Last year it was the shoulder, the year before the thumb, the year before that the...something.
Brett Favre's ankle the day after the NFC Championship Game. Allegedly.
And no, this is not a press bashing article, I promise. It is reasonable to discuss whether or not a guy that is 41 years old can make it through a 16 game schedule. But it is also reasonable to put Favre in a different category than just about any other athlete when it comes to stuff like this.
So let's look at both sides of the argument, shall we? After the jump. Just don't land funny, or you'll hurt your ankle.
Brett Favre has had a remarkable career, and it will be fun to watch him end his career with the Vikings...in six years and 11 retirements from now. No one really saw his 2009 season coming, because he was coming off of shoulder surgery. He started out strong with the Jets in 2008, then hurt his shoulder (well, bicep muscle, actually) and went into a tailspin. Everybody figured he was done--he was 38, had a significant shouder injury, and had lost his famous fastball.
Uh, not so much.
We know what happened last season, as his shoulder was fine throughout the season, and he put up caeeer numbers in what was supposed to be a Joe Namath with the Rams or John Unitas with the Chargers replay. Today, it's the ankle, and Favre questions whether or not he can make it through the season. Uh-huh.
In 1999, Favre suffered what he has called the worst injury of his career, a sprained thumb that just wouldn't heal. It affected him all season, as his completion percentage dropped below 60%, and the Packers stumbled to an 8-8 record. Some might say that could be just as much the fault of Ray Rhodes, but that's for another discussion.
In 2003, Favre broke his thumb...on his throwing hand...and played through it. At the time, I thought the Packers were done. They were 3-4, and heading to Minnesota. All he did was throw 3 TD's (1 pick) as the Packers beat the Vikes 30-27. He played with the broken thumb the rest of the season, and the Packers ended up going 10-6 and winning the division. At the time, it was frustrating watching him accomplish what he did with a broken thumb.
In 2004, Fave suffered a concussion in a loss against the New York Giants. Concussions are treated a lot differently than they were just five years ago, and if that happens now, he would most assuredly have to sit a week or two.
Last year, it was the shoulder. Which turned out to be fine.
This season, like we mentioned earlier, it's the ankle. Let me be clear: Any player, Favre included, is one play away from a career ending injury, but Favre' resiliency is truly unique. He has overcome several injuries which would have felled other quarterbacks or players. But what helps Favre with his ankle are a couple of things. Before I tell you what I think they are, look at this revealing quote to Peter King of SI.com (emphasis mine):
"I don't know. I have no idea, really," he said. "My ankle just seems to get easier to sprain. I know everyone thinks the New Orleans game [the NFC Championship Game] killed me, but it was bad before then. Now we'll see if I can make it. My mind's telling me one thing, but my body's telling me something else.''
There are two schools of Favre and his injuries. The skeptic argues Favre takes the injury, maybe overplays the severity it, and then muses whether or not he'll be able to make it through a season. The believer argues that Favre has an almost otherworldly constitution, and his tolerance for pain allows him, his desire to compete, and his inner drive compel to work through injuries that would sideline almost everybody else.
Just for the record, I think he plays all 16 games and has another great year. He hasn't missed a game in 19 years, although a lot of folks have been saying he would miss games for about 16 years now. I'm just not buying it.
And how will the year end? Hopefully, with Favre, Wilf, and all the Vikings hoisting the Lombardi trophy on the dais in Jerryworld. But at the end of the day, no one really knows for sure.
But I do know that no one, and I mean no one, is better at the Rope-a-Dope than Favre when it comes to injury.
Bring on the 2010 season.