SI Vault
In Favor of Favre
Peter King
December 30, 1996
Packers star merits a second straight MVP award, Why so many coaches are getting axed, Best and worst of 1996
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
December 30, 1996

In Favor Of Favre

Packers star merits a second straight MVP award, Why so many coaches are getting axed, Best and worst of 1996

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue

A Passing Grade

Much was said this year about the dearth of talented young quarterbacks in the league, yet of the 14 starters who finished the season with a rating above the respectable 80.0 mark, half of them were under 30. Here are seven reasons why the future of quarterbacking doesn't seem so dim after all. (Rankings are through Sunday's games.)

Rank, Player, Team



1 Brett Favre, Packers



3 Brad Johnson, Vikings



7 John Friesz, Seahawks



8 Mark Brunell, Jaguars



9 Drew Bledsoe, Patriots



11 Ty Detmer, Eagles



12 Jeff Blake, Bengals



The vote for MVP in the NFL should be as close as any in recent history simply because there are too many deserving candidates. However, there's one thing I'm sure of: The sentimental pick, Broncos quarterback John Elway, isn't the Man. In fact, he's fourth on my ballot. Here are my top five:

1. Brett Favre, quarterback, Packers;
2. Jerome Bettis, running back, Steelers;
3. Terrell Davis, running back, Broncos;
4. Elway;
5. (tie) Lamar Lathon and Kevin Greene, linebackers, Panthers.

There will be no denigration of Elway in this column, because, at 36, he had one of the best seasons of his 14-year career. But three players, including fellow Bronco Davis, meant more to their teams in 1996 than Elway meant to Denver. Here's an example why: In Week 3, with the Broncos trailing the Buccaneers 23-20 and 11 minutes to play, Elway trotted out for another of his patented fourth-quarter comebacks. Denver won all right—as Davis rushed eight times for 39 yards on the 14-play drive, including a three-yard dash for the deciding score.

Only once in the 39-year history of the MVP award has there been a repeat winner—49ers quarterback Joe Montana, in 1989 and '90—but Favre should become the second. He led Green Bay to a 13-3 record (two more wins than in '95) and home field advantage throughout the playoffs, an important consideration given the January weather in Wisconsin and the fact that the Pack lost the NFC title game in Dallas last year. He passed for a team-record 39 touchdowns (one more than in '95), and Green Bay led the league in scoring (up from sixth last year). All this despite the fact that 12-year veteran left tackle Ken Ruettgers retired on Nov. 20 because of a bum knee after playing in only four games, leading receiver Robert Brooks suffered a season-ending knee injury on Oct. 14, wideout Antonio Freeman missed four games with a fractured left forearm, and tight end Mark Chmura was sidelined for three late-season games with a sprained arch.

"With everything I've been through and all the injuries we've had," says Favre, who also overcame a dependency on painkillers with an off-season stint in rehab, "winning the MVP this year would mean a lot more than winning it last year."

Other selections for 1996 awards:

Defensive Player of the Year. Chad Brown, linebacker, Steelers. After outside linebacker Greg Lloyd went down with a season-ending knee injury in Week 1, Brown moved from his inside position to Lloyd's spot and wound up with 13 sacks, second best in the AFC, despite sitting out Pittsburgh's finale with a banged-up ankle.

Rookie of the Year. Terry Glenn, wide receiver, Patriots. New England coach Bill Parcells wanted to take a defensive player with the seventh pick in last April's draft, but he was overruled by owner Bob Kraft. A nagging hamstring injury kept Glenn on the sideline for most of training camp, and after reporters continually nagged Parcells for updates on Glenn, he finally replied with the macho taunt, "She's doing better." Well, she made an NFL rookie-record 90 receptions for 1,132 yards and six touchdowns.

Coach of the Year. Dom Capers, Panthers. He has been running the zone blitz for three years, including his final season as defensive coordinator of the Steelers, and offensive minds still can't figure out how to attack it. Defense was the key to Carolina's replacing San Francisco as NFC West kingpin in only its second year of existence.

Executive of the Year. Mike Shanahan, Broncos. His only title is coach, but Shanahan makes all the personnel decisions in Denver. And he made the right calls—on and off the field—in steering the Broncos to the best record (13-3) in the AFC.

Continue Story
1 2 3 4