From the Rocky Mountain News (December 26, 2003)
There are times when the most practical thing for a quarterback to do is play it safe, but, fortunately for the Packers, Favre wasn’t a practical thinker 10 years ago and he isn’t now.
He’s a gunslinger, a born gambler who gets a buzz from knowing how far to push things, then pushing a little harder, as the Denver Broncos are apt to see Sunday at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.
“A slinger is a guy who makes throws other guys won’t even attempt,” former Broncos quarterback John Elway said several years ago. “At times, you make bad decisions. People wonder why you even made the throw. On the other hand, you make the big play the other guy can’t even try.”
An enduring part of NFL lore, gunslingers shoot holes in defenses, critics and often themselves, but they never bore fans. The job requires cool leadership, a great arm, a larger-than-life personality and inspirational improvisational skills.
It all started with “Slingin’ Sammy” Baugh of the Washington Redskins, who helped usher in the passing game in the 1930s and ’40s.
His successor was Bobby Layne, who partied as hard as he played in the ’50s for the Detroit Lions.
In the ’60s, a slew of gunners made their mark, including Johnny Unitas and Joe Namath.
Roger “The Dodger” Staubach came to the fore in the ’70s for the Dallas Cowboys, as did Oakland’s Kenny Stabler, followed in the ’80s and ’90s by San Francisco’s Joe Montana, Miami’s Dan Marino and Denver’s Elway, whose John Wayne swagger and guns-a-blazin’ bravado enriched a bold legacy.
But these are rocky times for gunslingers, although Atlanta’s Michael Vick could usher in a new era.