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Favre going where few QBs have gone before
EDEN PRAIRIE, MINN. (AP) - The aches and pains simply never go away for Brett Favre anymore.
Nineteen NFL seasons have taken their toll, and when he gets out of bed in the morning he feels every one of the hits he’s taken. His ankle barks at him as soon as his foot hits the floor, his knees creak as he stands up and his back groans as he stretches to get loosened up for another day as a 40-year-old quarterback.
“There’s nothing on me 100 percent,” Favre said. “There wasn’t anything on me 100 percent last year or the year before. The surgeries, I think, have made me a little better, but I’ve played 309 straight games, I can’t complain.”
He can’t quit, either.
As he prepares to enter his 20th season in the league, Favre is going where few quarterbacks have gone before him. And he’s looking to lead the Minnesota Vikings to a place even fewer QBs have taken this tortured franchise _ to the Super Bowl.
According to STATS LLC, 17 quarterbacks in NFL history have started a season in which they turned 40 by Nov. 1. The vast majority of those players spent the waning days of their careers watching from the sidelines. George Blanda played until he was 48 as a kicker and backup quarterback who did complete 119 passes after turning 40.
Favre is the only 40-year-old quarterback to win a playoff game and one of only three to start more than six games in his 40s. He joins Warren Moon and Vinny Testaverde, who each made 25 starts in their 40s.
How does he do it? And what makes him want to leave a cushy life on his 465-acre spread in Hattiesburg, Miss., where he has more money than he could spend in two lifetimes, to endure another season of punishment?
“I look at him and he’s a competitor,” former quarterback Len Dawson told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “He loves the game. He loves the competition. He probably gets bored. What’s he going to do when he’s down on that farm in Mississippi? Run around on that tractor? That would get old real quick.”
If anyone can speak to the mentality of a 40-year-old quarterback, it’s Dawson. The Hall of Famer and Super Bowl winner is one of the select group to play the position at that age, when he started five games for the Kansas City Chiefs in his final season in 1975.
The Chiefs were rebuilding then, which made that final year painful in more ways than one for Dawson. He recalled taking a hit so hard in a game against Baltimore that he knew he couldn’t go on much longer.
Still, he managed to play in 12 games during that transition season, completing 66 percent of his passes for 1,095 yards, five touchdowns and a solid 90 quarterback rating.
“At age 40, you’re not as quick and as agile as you are in your late 20s, but you can rely on your ability to think because you’ve been through it and know what it takes,” Dawson said.
Favre leans on smarts, instincts and gut feelings today more than he ever has, but that right arm of his still has plenty of juice.
“My arm felt like it was 21 last year,” Favre said. “Amazing.”
By David Keene
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