Quarterback Brett Favre is a three time NFL Most Valuable Player in only his sixth season as a starter
Most Valuable Player.
The very words ignite debate among football fans on how to determine a player's value to his team.
The player with the best statistics. The player the rest of the team most often looks to for leadership. The player the team can least afford to lose. The player whose mere presence makes his team better.
It could go on.
Attach the words 'National Football League' to the phrase 'MVP' and the debate grows hotter.
One must now find a player whose importance to his team is the greatest among all the teams.
So how does one define the term NFL MVP?
How about two words?
In only his sixth season as a starter, Favre has been named the league's 'Most Valuable Player' an incredible third straight time.
He was already in excellent company with other two-time winners Jim Brown, Johnny Unitas, Joe Montana and Steve Young. Now he takes snaps in undiscovered country.
For Favre, being the MVP a third straight time was not necessarily a goal, but continuing to perform at such a level was a must.
"It's satisfying to prove to people, that after you've accomplished everything, that you can come back and do it again," Favre said of his motivation to stay on top. "Sometimes when people accomplish just about everything they set out to, they take a back seat and kind of relax. To me, it's more of a challenge to do it again."
Do it again he has.
How does one appreciate the wonder of this quarterback named Brett Favre?
Let one count the ways.
Perhaps it's the statistics.
In 1997, Favre continued his spectacular, if not regular, production with 35 touchdowns, leading the league for the third straight year. His Packers went 13-3 and won the NFC's Central Division for the third year in a row. In addition to leading the league in touchdown passes, he paced the conference in completions and passing yards and notched the NFC's third-best passer rating.
Favre also surpassed a number of Packers' career passing records en route, including touchdowns, attempts, completions and 300-yard games.
During his three-year MVP run, Favre has thrown for 112 touchdowns and 12,179 passing yards while leading the Packers to a 37-11 record, three Central Division titles and a Super Bowl championship.
His statistics alone are telling.
Of course, one may argue that statistics can be manipulated to accentuate the positive, so another route may be taken.
Talk about his toughness.
Favre extended his consecutive-starts streak to 93 games, the longest active streak by any quarterback by nearly three full seasons. He's played through numerous injuries, always showing up on game day, leading his team on the field.
Talk about his leadership.
Since taking over at quarterback for the Green Bay Packers during the 1992 season, Favre has been evolving in the role of team leader. Each year, players have looked to him more often.
"He's taken more responsibility every year," says tight end Mark Chmura, who joined the Packers with Favre in 1992. "He's the leader of the offense and a leader of the team. He's the guy we look to when we need a big play at the end."
Favre has also observed his own evolution.
"It's more of a progression, a maturing thing," he says. "The older you get and the more you play - the better you play - the more your players look up to you. It's more of leading by example than by being vocal. I go out and work hard every day - weight room, watching film. Then on the field, I play as hard as I can. It's productive. I think that's the best way to be a leader."
Favre's leadership was never more valuable to the Packers than this past season, as the team faced weekly obstacles on its road back to the Super Bowl.
Among several obstacles the Packers met every week were injuries, their own complacency and the best effort each opponent had to offer in playing the defending Super Bowl champions.
The Packers' quarterback did not brush off the pitfalls of repeating.
"We had to overcome, early in the year, the struggle our team had with trying to get up for every game," he said. "The last game you played before entering the season was the Super Bowl. It's hard to get back up and play every game and treat it like that - every week's a Super Bowl. That's what we've done in the past - treat it like it's your last game. That was probably the most difficult part."
After starting the season 3-2, Favre and his teammates conquered their struggles and finished the season with a 10-1 run. During a season-ending, five-game winning streak, he was especially sharp, throwing 12 touchdowns and only three interceptions.
Two playoff victories later, he has the Packers on the brink of another title.
Though many of his accomplishments are measurable, intangible qualities such as his hard play and 'never-say-die' attitude are sometimes the most appreciated.
"It's amazing," says Chmura. "The plays he makes as a player that other quarterbacks can't. That's why he's the MVP of the league. You almost shake your head in disbelief that he can get it done, but he does it time and time again."
Favre knows his style can sometimes backfire, but he won't change his approach.
"That's the way I play," he says. "I never give up - guys are tackling me and I'm fighting. I'll throw it from anywhere. For the most part it's worked. Every once in a while, everyone kind of goes, 'That's awful.' Even I do that. But I'll just keep doing it."
Whether it's putting up incredible numbers, keeping his teammates on course or simply leading the Packers to more victories, Favre clearly is having fun.
"The day that it's not fun anymore - when it's more of a job - is the day I retire," he says. "I'm having too much fun doing it right now."
Right now, the NFL's first-ever-three-time MVP has his team in its second straight Super Bowl.
What could be more fun?