Detroit Lions quarterback Joey Harrington was asked last week if Green Bay's long reign atop the NFC North might be nearing an end.
"You never look at it that way when No. 4 is around," Harrington said.
Brett Favre wears No. 4 for the Packers.
He is the Packers the way Bart Starr was the Packers. In fact, when Favre ran onto the field for Sunday's game at Detroit, he passed Starr for most appearances in the franchise's history.
And when he ran back off the field, with a 38-10 win over the Lions in his hip pocket, the message was once again sent that pro football fans should never write off No. 4.
True, the Packers were 1-4 before beating the Lions.
True, Favre had thrown six interceptions, the highest number among the league's top-20 ranked quarterbacks.
True, he had his fair share of the Packers' rather astounding nine lost fumbles in five games.
True, things had gotten so bad at Lambeau Field that when the Pack fell to 0-3 at home with a lopsided loss on Monday night of last week, the most loyal fans in America broke into a repeated chorus of boos.
But Favre, who was knocked out of that game with a concussion, has thick skin. His climb to the top as one of the NFL's premier quarterbacks was not always smooth. He's been up and he's been down and about the only sure thing is that he rarely remains in the latter position.
"Underestimating [Favre] is always the wrong thing to do," said Lions defensive end James Hall.
"Any time a great pro or a team gets backed into a corner, 99 per cent of the time they come out fighting," said Detroit coach Steve Mariucci. "Brett Favre can make any play at any time. He is ready, willing and able. I told our guys to be ready for his best performance."
The Lions might not have seen Favre's best performance, but it was plenty good. He completed 25 of 38 passes for 257 yards and two touchdowns. He didn't throw an interception, didn't lose a fumble and wasn't sacked. His passer rating of 102.6 against Detroit was nearly 20 points higher than his season rating entering the game.
"The bottom line is we executed," Favre said. "It's not that we ran a lot of different plays. Most of the time, we kind of dinked and dunked them. Our objective was to not turn the ball over, limit penalties and give our defense a chance."
The Packers were penalized three times for 15 yards, and the defense limited Detroit to 125 net yards. However, it was Green Bay's highly efficient offense, with 434 yards, that was the real difference in burying the Lions.
So, once again, as he has done so many times over the past 12-plus seasons, Favre lifted the Packers onto his shoulders and carried them to a must win.
"We're 2-4 and we're still in a big hole, but this definitely was a big win," said Favre, who has never experienced a losing season in Green Bay.
The league's only three-time MVP, Favre has started 195 consecutive games - 214, including playoffs - a streak that is 79 games longer than that compiled by any other quarterback in NFL history.
He has played the week following a shoulder separation, bruised thighs and hips, sprained ankles and thumbs, foot sprains and ligament damage to a knee. Facing the Lions a week after suffering a concussion was, for Favre, child's play.
Yes, he seems indestructible. But at age 35 Favre may not always feel that way. He has his Super Bowl, he has his MVP trophies, and he has his name at or near the top of the list for just about every significant NFL passing record.
He also has absorbed a dozen years worth of bone-jarring hits, and may soon conclude that enough is enough.
"I love to compete so it will be a tough transition, but yeah, I've thought about it some,"
Favre said when asked about life without football. "I'm at a comfort level that I've never been at. Whatever happens at the end of this season or next year or whenever, whether it's my decision or if [the Packers] want to go a different route, I can rest easy."
At least there's no question where he'll be resting.
"He's a Hall-of-Fame quarterback," Lions cornerback Dre' Bly said after Sunday's game. "Once again, I tip my hat to him."
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