At 39 his skills may be waning, but Brett Favre's popularity has never been higher.
Favre's No 4 a massive hit with fans on NFL website
MINNESOTA // At 39 his skills may be waning, but Brett Favre's popularity has never been higher. Despite the negative publicity generated by his summer-long retirement saga, fans have flocked to watch him in action and buy merchandise with his name on it. From April 1-August 28, Favre's Minnesota No 4 jersey was the top seller on the NFL's website, a remarkable statistic considering he did not join the Vikings until August 19.
The Chicago Bears' new quarterback Jay Cutler ranked second and the yet-to-play Philadelphia Eagles passer Michael Vick was fourth. Troy Polamalu and Ben Roethlisberger of the Super Bowl champions Pittsburgh Steelers ranked third and fifth, respectively. But while Favre-mania seems to be sweeping the league, his popularity still came as a surprise to his most prominent teammate. "I think I'm more popular than Brett Favre," said the running back Adrian Peterson. "But he's got an advantage. I think what gets him over the top is the [Green Bay] Packer fans that live here also."
Favre spent 16 years with the Packers before playing last season with the New York Jets. Asked if he had one of his own jerseys, Favre joked: "I don't think you can get any. "They're real hard to find right now. I only say that because friends and family have asked if I can get one. The only ones I have are the ones I play in." On the field, Favre has brought stability and a record-setting resume to the most important position on Minnesota's offence.
Off the field, the wow factor of having Favre on the team has helped take some of the attention away from the other players such as Peterson. "Normally people come up to me and ask me to get this and get that," Peterson said. "Now it's not all on me, so that's cool." The Vikings are not among the top 10 selling teams on NFLShop.com, one sign of how popular Favre truly is. "It is normal for sales of a player's jersey to jump significantly when he changes teams. However, we're witnessing the Favre factor. Favre has sold more jerseys than anyone in NFL history," said the NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy.
"He was a perennial top 10 seller for the Packers, was No 1 last season with the [New York] Jets and is anticipated to be among the top sellers this season with the Vikings. Meanwhile, the New York Jets and their former coach Eric Mangini have been punished for failing to report an injury to Favre last season. The Jets were fined US$75,000 (Dh275,482) and Mangini, now with the Cleveland Browns, $25,000.