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Saturday, October 3, 2009
FavreWatch: Rodgers breaking free

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com


Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert


Among the themes of Favre-Packers I has been the apparent lack of communication between Green Bay’s former and current quarterbacks since their transition last summer. During a conference call with Wisconsin reporters, Brett Favre was asked why he never reached out to Aaron Rodgers to relieve any tension stemming from Favre’s drama-filled departure from Green Bay.
AP Photo/Mike Roemer
Brett Favre's "unretirements" have probably helped Packers fans get more strongly behind Aaron Rodgers.

Favre paused for several seconds and finally said: “For what?”

He continued: “I mean, I think Aaron not only has done well. I think he will have a great career. I said that from day one. I mean, the guy’s talented. That’s why they drafted him. But no one’s called me. I talk to Donald [Driver] every once in a while, and Al [Harris] and some of the older guys. But I don’t know what to tell you.”

Rodgers, typically relaxed and easy-going with reporters, got terse this week when asked about the apparent radio silence.

“I think that is between Brett and I,” Rodgers said. “And it doesn’t really have any relevance to the game.”

If I’m Rodgers, I wouldn’t be upset. In fact, I would be doing everything I could to separate myself from the long shadow of a future Hall of Famer. Historically speaking, that hasn’t been an easy task.

Take a look at the chart below. It chronicles the transitions following the nine Hall of Fame quarterbacks who retired after 1980. I’m making the assumption Favre eventually will join them in the Hall of Fame. (He would have to retire first, of course. But please, no retirement jokes today. This is serious business.)
Following in Hall of Fame footsteps
Hall of Famer Team Transition year Replacement* Years lasted
Terry Bradshaw Pittsburgh 1983 Cliff Stoudt 1
Dan Fouts San Diego 1988 Mark Malone 1
Warren Moon Houston 1994 Billy Joe Tolliver 1
Joe Montana San Francisco 1993 Steve Young 6
Jim Kelly Buffalo 1996 Todd Collins 1
John Elway Denver 1999 Brian Griese 4
Dan Marino Miami 2000 Jay Fiedler 4
Steve Young San Francisco 1999 Jeff Garcia 5
Troy Aikman Dallas 2001 Quincy Carter 3
*Passing leader

Half of the replacements on this list didn’t make it past their first year. Judging the rest is subjective, but you could argue that only two of these transitions were a success. Both occurred in San Francisco, where Steve Young replaced Joe Montana in 1993 and Jeff Garcia replaced Young in 1999.

Taking over for a Hall of Fame quarterback is difficult both psychologically and from a scheme perspective. There are the obvious pressures of living up to your predecessor’s performance levels and his popularity with fans. And often, the new quarterback has to fit into a scheme designed for someone else.

By extending his tenure into a second season, Rodgers has already paced himself beyond the midpoint of this field. After some initial difficulty, I think he’s won over most Packers fans. Smartly, he’s kept his mouth shut while Favre tarnished his own legacy.

And when he jogs onto the Metrodome field Monday night, Rodgers will have his chance to outshine the legend. That would be a far greater accomplishment than maintaining any friendship.