While we are in between the NFL off season and the start of the preseason, football happenings are in short supply. Well, at least the on-field happenings are. With some added time to reflect, I’m reminded of the fortune that has befallen the Green Bay Packers. Which fortune, you ask? I’d argue that it’s the most important one for a football team to be successful: the quarterback position.
2013 marks nearly 21 years since Brett Favre made his first career start, the first of just over 250 consecutive starts for the Packers. Favre spent 16 seasons in Green Bay and played at a high level during each and every one. It’s fair to say, save for the 1999 and 2005 teams, those Packers teams were, at the very least, good.
Quarterbacks like Favre come along only once in a great while, if you look at the general averages among all 32 NFL teams and their histories. To have a signal caller of that caliber is something to cherish and I have made mention of that before.
Then came Aaron Rodgers. Expected to possibly go #1 overall in the 2005 draft, we all know the story. Rodgers fell to the Packers towards the end of the first round and spent his first three seasons behind Favre, learning the in’s and out’s of being an NFL quarterback. The way that Rodgers fell wasn’t something that the Packers or Ted Thompson planned on. No amount of convincing will change my mind on that thought. There was an element of luck associated with that day and it is now one that not many of the Packers faithful will forget.
When the team decided to move on from Favre in 2008, Rodgers stepped in and statistically, had a good season. The team went 6-10 that year and many of those losses were by fewer than five points and came down to the last few plays. In 2009, Rodgers led the team to a winning record and a playoff appearance. The Packers have been to the postseason every year since. What started out as a stroke of luck turned out to also be good.
The Packers have won two Super Bowls over the past 20 years, with each Favre and Rodgers claiming one. It is often said that any team can be good, but it takes a little bit of luck to get over that hump and win a championship. To be one out of 32 teams that comes out on top.
I started to look up how many quarterbacks the Bears, Vikings and Lions have gone through in the last 21 seasons but then I stopped. It’s well over 20. The Lions and Vikings have also gone through their fair share. And how many Super Bowl wins did that that get them? Zero. In fact, the Vikings and Lions haven’t even made an appearance in a Super Bowl during that span. The Bears went to one in 2007 and lost to the Peyton Manning-led Indianapolis Colts. Those Colts were yet another example of a team that struck gold with their quarterback.
The Bears won the division that season and played well, but it stands to reason that the lack of a top-tier quarterback was a reason that they came up short. Rex Grossman obviously played well enough for those Bears to be successful, but he never did turn out to be any sort of top-notch passer.
Jersey Al just published a thought about some of the comments that Rodgers made during his recent interview with ESPN Milwaukee’s Jason Wilde. Rodgers stated that, if he is still playing well, he would like to outplay his current contract and remain a Packer. If he does, Green Bay could become the benefactor of nearly 30 continuous years of some of the best quarterbacking that the NFL has ever seen.
The closest example that I can give, in recent NFL history, would be Joe Montana and Steve Young in San Francisco. Their combined run spanned two decades. Favre and Rodgers have already achieved that milestone and Rodgers still has some good years ahead. They both accomplished what they did in different ways but have two things in common: they’re both good and both had a little luck, too.
Injuries can always change things (and let’s hope they don’t) but I thought it worth another mention as to just how lucky the Green Bay Packers have been when it comes to their quarterback position. Does that win them a championship year after year? No. But then again, no team wins every year. In order to win, you have to get into the playoffs. For the most part, the Packers have been one of the NFL’s best in remaining relevant for over two decades.
Good, lucky or both, cherish this era in Packers history. We may never see another stroke of good fortune like this in Green Bay, or the NFL, again.
Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on AllGreenBayPackers.comFollow Jason Perone: