Favre still a fan, hobby legend

Traditionally, pro football fans have never placed as much emphasis on records as stats-minded baseball fans have. As Brett Favre was closing in on Dan Marino’s 420 career touchdown passes this year – arguably the most coveted record in football – there was no public outcry about whether or not NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell or Marino would be there when it happened. That was much unlike all the hoopla this past summer about whether MLB commissioner Bud Selig or Hank Aaron would be in attendance while Barry Bonds was chasing the all-time home run record. But that should not diminish from what Favre has accomplished. After all, 421 touchdowns are a lot of jubilant celebrations.

Without excessive fanfare, Favre’s record-setting 421st career touchdown toss to receiver Greg Jennings on Sept. 30 came on the road against Green Bay’s arch-rival Minnesota. Other than a little horsing around with teammates and giving his wife Deanna a hug in the first row of the Metrodome seats behind the bench, it was right back to work for Favre, who didn’t even watch a pre-recorded message on the stadium board of Marino congratulating him. He was more intent on looking at printouts of various plays before taking the field again and leading the Packers to an eventual 23-16 victory.

The record-breaking football went on display just two days later at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Favre said he will loan it to the museum for a couple years. “I was hoping to put it on eBay,” Favre joked to members of the press. “I think we are going to let it sit in the Hall of Fame for a year or two. I’m sure after that, I’ll keep it.”

Favre’s NFL Records
Today, Favre owns many of the NFL records for a quarterback. As of mid-October, some of his most impressive individual career marks include:
Most Touchdown Passes, 423
Most Wins as a Starting Quarterback, 152
Most Consecutive Games Started as a Quarterback, 242
Most Pass Completions, 5,181
Most Passing Attempts, 8,470

Hobby Record Holder, Too
From a hobby standpoint, Favre is also the leader in number of cards issued. With more than 7,200 cards and counting since 1991, he holds the all-time record for NFL players in that capacity, too. His most valuable rookie card is his 1991 Stadium Club
No. 94, that pictures him as an Atlanta Falcon. It’s an uncorrected error card that misspells his last name phonetically (Farve).

Earlier this year, in anticipation of him breaking the 420 touchdown mark, Topps got in on the festivities by issuing individual cards commemorating each of Favre’s career touchdown passes in its 2007 NFL football set. According to Topps spokesman Clay Luraschi, the first 200 “Flight to 420″ cards are issued in the 2007 set with the remaining cards issued next year. “Each touchdown gets its own card,” said Luraschi. “There is also a 1-of-1 autographed version of each touchdown. We will continue with TD
No. 201 in 2008 Topps next year.”

The Upper Deck Online Store (store.upperdeck.com) is also in on the Favre-mania action. According to Upper Deck’s Terry Melia, the company is currently offering about 200 pieces of Favre-signed memorabilia (signed footballs, Packers jerseys, helmets and numbered jersey pieces). In any given regular-season game, if Favre throws a single touchdown pass, the Upper Deck Store applies a 15 percent discount on any of his available autographed memorabilia the next day. If he throws two or more touchdowns in any single game, they will award a 20 percent discount.
“Last year, we took 20 of his signed Packers home jerseys and had them embroidered with various statistical info,” Melia told Tuff Stuff. “We will likely take a portion of his remaining jerseys and have them embroidered to reflect the new, final tally for his TD mark. But we are not planning on going out and getting special inscriptions from Brett, nor are we thinking about gathering up new signatures.”

Photo File (www.photofile.com) has produced several items commemorating Favre’s record-breaking 421st career touchdown pass. Products include photographs, plaques and limited-edition matted photographs of Favre throwing the historic pass.

Favre’s Popularity
Last year, Favre once again topped the Harris Poll, in a survey of American sports fans, as the nation’s favorite football player and placed third among all sports figures, behind Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan. Packers merchandise has been in the top 10 of highest-selling NFL teams for the past decade, often being at the top or a close second. And the principal product, Favre’s No. 4 jersey, has consistently been in the top five or 10 top-selling jerseys in the NFL, which is a testament to his popularity since the team’s logo and colors haven’t changed.

Steve Pemper, operator of Ball Four Sports in West Allis, Wis. (www.ballfoursports.com), has had Favre as an autograph guest at several public and private signing sessions since 1994. Pemper says Favre’s popularity nationwide is remarkable and anything Packers-related and signed by Favre is always in hot demand. “It’s amazing, said Pemper. “We do the Sun-Times and SportsFest Shows in Chicago every year. Even people who are big Bears fans want Brett Favre memorabilia. The Bears and Packers have the longest rivalry in Pro Football, yet Bears fans admire him so much they want something relating to him.”

According to Pemper, Favre doesn’t do many public or private signing sessions these days. “He picks and chooses what he wants to do,” Pemper said. “The last time we had him (at a public signing) we also had Bart Starr. He wanted to do that together with Bart. Brett’s really a very humble guy. He’s amazed that so many people want his autograph. He marvels over that. He jokingly asks, ‘Doesn’t everybody have my autograph by now?’ ”

Right now, all the records in the world just don’t seem that important to Favre. He’s much more concerned about helping the Packers win games and having fun.

Tom Mortenson is the former editor of Sports Collectors Digest. You can e-mail him at tommortenson@hotmail.com

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