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10 moments that defined Brett Favre’s greatness

Four touchdowns after his father’s death. Super Bowl XXXI. The moments that defined Brett Favre’s greatness.

Five years ago, Brett Favre left the game of football as one of the most accomplished quarterbacks of all-time. He shattered records and won a championship, but perhaps most notably the legendary quarterback played with flair and a penchant for the dramatic that endeared him to generations of fans.

On Saturday, Favre will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Over his 20 years and nearly 300 starts in the NFL, Favre produced iconic moments that range from gutsy to simply ridiculous. As Favre is immortalized in Canton, we looked back at 10 moments that define Favre’s greatness.

Quiz: How well do you know Brett Favre’s career?

First of many game-winning passes


The legend of Brett Favre was officially born on Sept. 20, 1992. On this day, Favre had his first chance to leave his mark as a player, coming in for the injured Don Majkowski. All he did was led the Packers on a 92-yard game-winning drive, capped off by a 35-yard touchdown pass to Kitrick Taylor to beat the Bengals. 

Favre run keeps Packers’ playoff hopes alive


Favre led the Packers to the playoffs for the first time in 11 years in 1993, but his effort to get the team into the postseason in 1994 was even more memorable. Coming into Week 16 against the Falcons with a 7–7 record, Green Bay needed a win to keep playoff hopes alive. Trailing by three with 21 seconds left, Favre took matters into his own hands, pulling off an eight-yard run for the winning score.

• BEDARD: Covering Favre’s final years in the NFL

Leading Green Bay to 1994 NFL Wild Card win


Favre’s first appearance in the playoffs also turned out to be one of the iconic games of his career. Facing Barry Sanders and the Detroit Lions, Green Bay trailed 24–21 with just over a minute left. Favre took the snap, rolled to his left and then launched the ball across his body into the arms of Sterling Sharpe. The 40-yard touchdown ended up being the game-winning score.

The 99-yard touchdown pass


It’s the one record that he owns that will never be broken. Favre connected on a 99-yard touchdown pass to Robert Brooks in a 1995 victory over the Chicago Bears. Favre dropped back into his own end zone, froze the defense with a pump fake and then hit Brooks in stride.

Finally content in retirement, Favre preps for his next Lambeau moment

First of three straight MVPs


From 1995–1997, Favre was undoubtedly the face of the NFL. He led the league in passing touchdowns in all three seasons and took the Packers to the Super Bowl twice. Favre was named an MVP all three of those seasons, the first honor coming after he threw for 4,413 yards and 38 touchdowns in 1995. 

Packers win Super Bowl XXXI

Favre led Green Bay to its first Super Bowl win in 29 years with a 35–21 win over the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI. With the Packers trailing in the second quarter, Favre connected on an 81-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Freeman. Green Bay would never trail again en route to the win.

• SI Vault: Packers win Super Bowl XXXI

Playing for his father


The night that characterized Brett Favre more than any other was Dec. 22, 2003. A day after his father passed away, Favre took the field against the Raiders on Monday Night Football. He finished the games with one of the top performances of his career, throwing for 399 yards and four touchdowns in a 41–7 victory.

• SI Vault: Behind inspired play of Favre, Green Bay continues magical run

Breaking the all-time touchdown record


In 2007, nearly eight seasons after Dan Marino threw his last touchdown pass in the NFL, Favre took his place atop the record book, connecting with Greg Jennings for his 421st career touchdown pass, setting an NFL record. The Packers executed a perfectly run slant route, allowing Jennings to run into the Metrodome end zone untouched. Favre finished his career with 508 touchdowns, which Peyton Manning surpassed in 2014.

Breaking the all-time passing yards record


Just a few months after he broke Marino’s all-time touchdown record, Favre eclipsed his record for most career passing yards as well. The moment came early in the fourth quarter against the Rams in 2007 on a slant route to Greg Jennings. Favre finished his career with 71,838 passing yards.

• SI Vault: Brett Favre, 2007 Sportsman of the Year

Last-second touchdown lifts Vikings


• SI Vault: ‘Pretty awesome’—how Brett Favre describes his run with the Vikings

Favre had a number of big moments with the Vikings, including multiple victories over the Packers, but his wildest moment (other than that one interception) was a game-winning touchdown pass against the San Francisco 49ers in 2009. With Minnesota down by four, Favre scrambled in the pocket before launching the ball into the back of the end zone from nearly 40 yards out. Greg Lewis was on the other end of the pass, snagging the ball over a defender and managing to get both feet down.

Favre, who turned 40 in October 2009, miraculously led Minnesota to the second-best record in the NFC and a berth in the NFC Championship Game, where they fell in overtime to the eventual Super Bowl champion Saints.