Favre gets better with age
I'm about to tuck into a large slice of humble pie. Back in September, I had genuine concerns about Brett Favre's second comeback in as many seasons and wrote about them here.
I did not believe Favre would be the final piece in the Minnesota Vikings' jigsaw. I had no doubt the future Hall of Famer could still throw a pretty pass and lead a team with some devastating strikes downfield. I just could not see a 40-year-old quarterback - who had admitted he got tired throwing to college kids over the summer - being in peak physical condition at the business end of the season.
I did not particularly like the way the former Green Bay star engineered his release from the New York Jets before conveniently signing with the Vikings once most of the preseason training was out of the way, but that was not my primary concern. I just felt a guy who had physically broken down at the back end of the previous season was not going to be in the right kind of form to lead a Super Bowl run in January.
To say I was a little bit off the mark would be an understatement.
Watch Favre throw four touchdowns against the Cowboys (available to UK users only)
Favre was outstanding for most of the regular season, throwing for 4,202 yards, 33 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. Statistically, he enjoyed the best season of his 19-year career and he never came close to hitting a physical or mental wall.
And Favre added to his legend on Sunday as he ripped the Dallas Cowboys apart during a 34-3 win that moved the Vikings to within one game of Super Bowl 44 in Miami. Some of his throws were simply sublime and showed he has lost none of his passing skills.
Favre completed 15 of 24 passes for 234 yards and set a new playoff personal best with four touchdown strikes. He is now preparing for a shootout with Drew Brees as the Vikings take on the New Orleans Saints in Sunday's Super Bowl semi-final, the National Football Conference Championship Game.
Before I go on, I want to explain that I do not write the headlines for this blog so I am not totally to blame for "Brett Favre set to struggle in Minnesota" but, of course, I wrote the words that prompted the headline in the first place.
When Favre first announced his return to the NFL, I thought it was bad for the league. I was fed up with the comebacks, I did not like the idea of a veteran waiting until training camp was over before inking a deal with a team and I did not want one of the game's greats to tarnish his legacy with another average season.
Favre looked a shadow of his former self during the second half of the 2008 season with the Jets and I genuinely had fears about how he would hold up physically.
I was wrong. Big time.
Brett Favre playing at the height of his skills and with so much emotion and energy is still a joy to watch. He is like a kid in the playground - the game is still very much the fun part for him.
I interviewed Favre in 2005 and he admitted that he would play the games for nothing. He felt he was paid for the work he put in during the week leading up to each game. The action at the weekends? That was the fun part and he insisted he would do that for free.
And you can see that is his approach on Sundays. He genuinely loves the game and squeezes every ounce of enjoyment out of each 60 minutes he is on the field.
He is running around like a man half his age, slapping his team-mates on the backside and then racing away giggling during the pre-game warm-ups and tackling his receivers to the ground after he has thrown yet another touchdown strike to them. It may be childish but it makes for fascinating viewing.
You have to admire that kind of passion and it is clear the NFL is a brighter, more exciting place with Favre featuring heavily in the action each and every weekend. When he does finally retire and stay retired, Favre will be sorely missed.
Favre has been helped by playing indoors in Minnesota at the back end of the season and has also benefited from having some key targets at his disposal. This used to be an attack focused on the running skills of Adrian Peterson. But the 2009 Vikings are very much about Favre and receivers Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin, Bernard Berrian and Visanthe Shiancoe.
That is the power of Favre. In just one season, he has changed the entire focus of the Vikings' attack and has them on the verge of the Super Bowl. And Peterson will have no problems with a reduced role if it results in championship glory.
There is still some work to be done before Favre's fairytale return to the NFL culminates in a title game appearance in Florida early next month because the Saints are the top seed in the conference and present a formidable challenge.
But regardless of how this weekend's Super Bowl semi-final plays out, Favre has proven his doubters wrong and reminded me that I should forget about all the negative headlines and storylines surrounding his return and simply enjoy genuine NFL greatness while I have the chance.
Who knows how long Favre will be around? His glittering career could end in New Orleans on Sunday, it could end with him lifting the Vince Lombardi Trophy in Miami or he could come back for more in 2010.
I'm done with the speculation and concerns. I'm just going to enjoy watching every minute the old man is on the field. After all, we may never see his like in the NFL again.
Listen to Both NFL championships games this Sunday on BBC 5 live sports extra from 2000 GMT. (Available on the web to UK users only). Watch extended highlights of the NFL play-offs on BBC 2 on Monday 25 January at 2320 GMT; short clips on Monday on the BBC Sport website (UK only).