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Packers Notebook - Favre In MVP Hunt


Although they clinched their division title weeks ago, the Packers have more than enough motivation to give their best effort against the New York Jets this weekend.

A win would clinch at least a first round bye. And if the New York Giants are kind enough to defeat the Philadelphia Eagles this Saturday, a Green Bay victory would also clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

But Sunday's game is significant in yet another way.

Like a late campaign stop on the eve of a presidential election, New York will be the site of Brett Favre's last chance to rally votes for an unprecedented fourth NFL Most Valuable Player award.

"That would be a great achievement," said Favre, who earned the honor three straight seasons from 1995-97.

"The third one was way more than I ever dreamed of. I would rather win a Super Bowl, but to be thought of as the best player in all of football, it's a great honor."

Statistically, Favre isn't the NFL's leading quarterback this season. That honor belongs to the Oakland Raiders' Rich Gannon, who has completed an NFL-record 411 of his 604 attempts (68 percent) for 4,610 yards, 25 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions.

But few, if any, quarterbacks can boast of being more important to their team, or to have generated such success in the face of overwhelming adversity.

After all, how many quarterbacks watched a pair of offensive linemen go down for the season, a starting center move to left tackle, a pair of veterans worth 26-years of NFL experience combine for 20 starts, with an undrafted rookie stepping in for two more?

How many quarterbacks kept the offense moving in instances where a pair of rookies played running back or a linebacker played fullback?

How many quarterbacks started the year with an almost entirely new receiving corps and the burden of Super Bowl hopes?

How many quarterbacks had a leg folded sideways like a lawn chair midseason, but didn't miss a start despite a torn knee ligament?

How many quarterbacks experienced all that and yet have their team headed into the final weekend of the season at 12-3?

Only one. Only Favre.

As extraordinary as he's been however, ask him if he should win the award and he might tell you no.

"I remember the first time I won it, I heard that I'd won it, and I went home thinking, there's no way -- there's no way I'm the best player in this league," Favre said. "And I said that after the second one and I said that after the third one, and I still feel that way ...

"If I was fortunate enough to win it again, we all know that it wasn't because of me, it was because of a lot of people.

"For me, it's a great feeling to be mentioned every year for at least a brief time as a potential MVP candidate, because it means I'm doing something well. As opposed to, 'I remember he used to win MVPs and we used to mention his name, but now he's just a has-been.'"

Sharper Status

Safety Darren Sharper hasn't practiced since leaving last weekend's game with a torn medial collateral ligament, but is still considered 'questionable' for Sunday, meaning there's a 50 percent chance that he will play.

"Obviously not practicing today doesn't help much, but we'll work him out tomorrow, see where he is," GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman said Friday.

"I'll use the same philosophy that I've used all year long, I'm not going to put anybody out there that's not going to be able to help us in future games. So if they tell me that if he plays now he can't play in the next game, I wouldn't use him.

"Now if we come to the last game of the season, the Super Bowl or NFC Championship game or another playoff game, maybe it's a different decision. But right now, I will err on the side of caution."

New York quarterback Chad Pennington said that the Jets would plan for Sharper to be in the lineup.

"If he doesn't play, I don't think that changes our gameplan or our thoughts because we have a bunch of other guys to worry about, too," Pennington said. "At the same time, with Sharper in there, he's a team leader, he's very aggressive, does a great job of reading quarterbacks and making decisions.

"No doubt, he's a playmaker."

No Words Necessary

Technically, it's not a playoff game. But with the Jets fighting for a playoff berth and the Packers fighting for a bye and possibly home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, it might as well be.

Friday, Packers GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman said no words were necessary to convey to his team the importance of the weekend ahead.

"They know what's going on, you don't have to paint the picture," he said. "I have to paint the pictures during the season, but at this point of the year it's pretty obvious so we don't have to talk too much about it because if they haven't figured it out there's something wrong with them."

Quarterback Brett Favre said anyone that didn't treat Sunday like a playoff game would be making a mistake. That's the kind of effort he expects all season long.

"The intensity level won't be any different than it has been for any other game because I can't raise it any higher," Favre said. "You have to treat every game like it's the last."

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