Over the course of a historic 20-season NFL career, Brett Favre had the pleasure of playing alongside some of the most talented pass catchers that the league has ever seen. At the same time, he has passed to a laundry list of cast-offs and scrubs. The reality of life in the NFL is that despite every player having the level of talent necessary to play professionally, there are still massive skill disparities on display within any NFL locker room.
Just as Favre routinely outshined his backups on the playing field, many of the receivers that Favre was throwing to were subject to being outshined by their teammates. These seemingly small differences in ability can make the difference between a touchdown and an incomplete pass on any given play. In a league where the margin of time between a successful play and a disastrous one are incredibly small, even perceived advantages can make a difference.
Brett Favre personified this belief in ability throughout his storied career. His bravado and belief in his own abilities made him America’s favorite quarterback and earned him a Super Bowl ring. Those same traits pushed his receivers above their capabilities and in some cases elevated their play to extraordinary levels. However, Favre routinely found himself surrounded by players not capable or willing to rise to those levels. This article will honor the best and the worst to ever catch a pass from the Gunslinger.
23 Best: Bubba Franks
Bubba Franks left the University of Miami early to live his NFL dream and had the ideal start to a career, being drafted by the Green Bay Packers with the 14th overall pick in 2000. Franks and Favre initially struggled to develop a connection during his rookie season. However, the following year, Franks and Favre were able to develop a connection in the redzone, maximizing Franks’ considerable size and leaping ability. It proved to be productive for them both, hooking up for nine touchdowns. This continued for as long as he managed to stay healthy, with Franks earning three Pro Bowl appearances. However, injuries and a lack of production dropped him down the depth chart before he sought greener pastures with the Jets. When he was healthy though, Franks was a solid TE for #4.
22 Worst: David Clowney
Brett Favre’s short and tenuous stint with the New York Jets, saw the crafty veteran quarterback struggle to find a connection with any of the five tight ends brought in that season. By virtue of being a rookie and the least productive of these tight ends, David Clowney has to be considered one of the worst that Favre ever worked with during his career. The duo connected on only a single completion, a 26 yard gain against the Buffalo Bills. Clowney’s NFL journey would take him from New York to Carolina and Buffalo. Clowney ultimately made his way to the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL before a head and neck injury ended his playing career. He has continued to work in football and is the wide receiver’s coach for ASA College: Miami.
21 Best: Bill Schroeder
Born in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Bill Schroeder grew up a Packers fan, but took a rather untraditional route to Green Bay stardom. After an outstanding track career at University of Wisconsin - La Crosse, Schroeder was shocked to be drafted in the 6th round of the 1994 NFL draft. However, he was unable to make it off the practice squad with both the Packers and Patriots. His football dream took him to the NFL Europe’s Rhine Fire, where he stood out enough to earn an invite back to the Packers. After playing for a season as a return specialist, he climbed the receiver depth chart. From 1997-2001, Schroeder amassed seasons of 1,051, 999, and 918 receiving yards and 20 total TDs. He signed a one day contract and retired as a Packer in 2008.
20 Worst: Randy Moss
In 2010, Favre and Moss were both certainly in the twilight stages of their respective careers, so the return to Minnesota was not meant to be a long term engagement. After a dip in Moss’ production early in the season with the Patriots, he was shipped to Minnesota in exchange for a third round pick and compensation. Moss clashed with the coaching philosophies of Brad Childress and had a limited role in the offense managing only 13 receptions on 25 targets from Favre. The pair did manage a couple of touchdowns, but it was a disastrous season for the Vikings. Moss was waived amid rumors he advocated for Childress to be fired by Vikings owner Zygi Wilf. Childress was eventually fired on November 2nd. The next day Randy Moss was claimed by the Tennessee Titans.
19 Best: Javon Walker
Drafted in the first round out of Florida State, 20th overall, Javon Walker carried a burden of expectation with him into the NFL. He followed it up with a disappointing rookie campaign, but managed to bounce back with a solid sophomore season with 700 yards. 2004 saw him explode for 1,382 yards and quickly becoming Brett Favre’s favorite receiver, earning his only Pro Bowl appearance. However, there were contract disputes between Walker and the Packers. Walker wanted out of his rookie deal and expected a big payday from the team, but the deal never came. Walker ultimately suffered a knee injury during the first game of the 2005 season and was traded for a second round pick to the Denver Broncos the following Spring. While they didn't spend a long time together, when they were on the field together, they were productive.
18 Worst: Ruvell Martin
Another NFL Europe receiver that crossed paths with Brett Favre was Amsterdam Admirals alum, Ruvell Martin. Martin was undrafted, but signed by the San Diego Chargers, then waived twice during training camp until the Packers signed him to the practice squad in 2005. Martin didn’t make his debut with the Pack until the following season. Martin put together a few noteworthy performances, such as Sunday Night at Soldier Field against the Bears. Filling in for Greg Jennings, Martin racked up 118 yards on seven receptions, but that would be the high watermark for his relationship with Favre. He would go on to bounce around between the Rams, Seahawks, and Bills before retiring as a player. Martin now works as a real estate broker that helps families find homes in the Charlotte, North Carolina area.
17 Best: Ahman Green
After an illustrious high school athletic career in football and track in Nebraska, Ahman Green followed it up with two National Championships in three seasons with the Cornhuskers. He struggled for playing time during his time with the Seahawks before being acquired by the Packers. He would go on to become the Packers leader in career rushing yards, thanks to six seasons of rushing for more than 1,000 yards. However, he had a knack for catching passes out of the backfield and was a reliable safety valve for several of the most productive years of each of their careers. Injuries and fumbles led to Green seeking free agency money with the Houston Texans, but he was never able to match the production of his years alongside Favre.
16 Worst: Sanjay Beach
Born on an Air Force Base in the Philippines, Sanjay Beach played his college ball at Colorado State. After a rookie season that only saw him feature in a single game for the New York Jets in 1989, Beach made his way to the 49ers in 1991. However, his time in San Francisco was unproductive with only four receptions. The next season, he was signed by the Green Bay Packers, who had a young quarterback named Brett Favre starting under center. As you undoubtedly know, Brett Favre completed his first NFL pass to himself, but his first to another player went to Sanjay Beach, which is really the only noteworthy thing he did in his only season in Green Bay, where he started 11 games. Sanjay is one of only two players of Indian descent to play in the NFL. He ultimately returned to Colorado State to complete his Master’s degree and now works as a financial advisor for Merrill Lynch.
15 Best: Robert Brooks
After a sensational career at the University of South Carolina, Robert Brooks entered the league as a dynamic playmaker. Originally deployed as a kick returner, Brooks rose to prominence in the wake of Sterling Sharpe’s injury and he did it in spectacular fashion. On Monday Night Football against the Chicago Bears, Brooks burned the defense and caught a Brett Favre bomb before outrunning the entire defense for a 99-yard touchdown. He suffered an ACL tear early in the 1996 season and ended up missing the Super Bowl, but did rebound with a spectacular 1997 season, where he had over 1,000 yards. The most lasting contribution of Brooks’ career would undeniably be popularizing the Lambeau Leap, which is now the favored celebration for many Packers greats, including Favre.
14 Worst: Russell Copeland
After three solid years playing at Memphis, Russell Copeland was taken in the 4th round of the 1993 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills. Originally deployed as a return specialist, he took steps to develop during his rookie and sophomore season, but never managed to reach 300 yards receiving for the season. That changed during his 3rd NFL season when he hauled in 42 receptions for 646 yards, which caught the attention of the Green Bay Packers who acquired him a year later. However, in their limited time together, Favre and Copeland were never able to develop a rapport. Copeland was targeted only three times for a meager two receptions racking up 11 yards before being shipped off to Philadelphia. After leaving the NFL, Copeland spent time with the Memphis Maniax and the Toronto Argonauts.
12 Best: Donald Driver
Donald Driver was one of the top beneficiaries from Brett Favre during the early stages of his career with the Green Bay Packers. Coming into the league as a highly regarded collegiate athlete in football and track & field, Driver still didn’t get the recognition he sought coming from D-2 Alcorn State University. Favre and Driver shared a special connection that stretched all the way back to Driver’s rookie training camp when Favre told him, “You keep catching like that, there’s gonna be many more.” He made a living doing the dirty work and going over the middle for his quarterback. The duo combined for five seasons with over 1,000 yards receiving, allowing Driver to emerge from Division 2 obscurity to Packers legend.
11 Worst: Hank Baskett
Hank Baskett entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent out of the University of New Mexico with the Minnesota Vikings. He emerged on the scene following a trade to the Philadelphia Eagles and quickly became a fan favorite thanks to his knack for the big play. Baskett was never the most consistent performer, but from 2006-2008 he served as a reliable second or third option for Donovan McNabb. In 2010, Baskett reunited with the Vikings and had the privilege of catching a single pass from Brett Favre for an 18-yard gain after playing the majority of the season on special teams. Baskett’s true stardom would come from reality television alongside his wife Kendra Wilkinson, a former Playboy model, who he appears on reality shows with.
10 Best: Sterling Sharpe
Already a veteran when the Packers acquired a certain young quarterback from the Atlanta Falcons, Sterling Sharpe had a lasting influence. Brett Favre would not have been the sensation that he went on to become without the help of Sterling Sharpe early in his NFL career. During his first season in Green Bay, Favre made Sharpe his favorite target to the tune of 108 receptions and 1,461 receiving yards, breaking the single-season record held by Art Monk. Sadly, Sharpe’s five-time All-Pro career was cut short with a neck injury during the 1994 season or there is no telling how high Sharpe may have climbed on the receiving record books. He never earned a Super Bowl ring as a player, but his brother Shannon made up for it by giving him his first of three.
9 Worst: Rod Gardner
Drafted with the 15th overall pick out of Clemson by the Washington Professional Football Team, Rod Gardner was supposed to be the prototype wide receiver. Measuring up at 6’2’’, 213 pounds, Gardner boasted a 4.48 40-yard dash time and was expected to be the next big thing at his position. After an impressive rookie campaign, he became a vital part of the Washington offense the following season, earning over 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns. His time in Washington was brought to an end after four seasons when he was traded for a 6th round pick to the Panthers. He joined the Packers late in the 2005 season and played the last two games alongside Favre, catching two passes in each game. He would retire following a stint with Kansas City and remains regarded as one of the biggest wide receiver busts in NFL draft history.
8 Best: Antonio Freeman
In the early stages of Brett Favre’s career, Antonio Freeman was his preferred target, racking up more catches in 1996-99 than any other Packers receiver. After only two years in the league, Freeman had a Super Bowl ring that he earned with an 81-yard TD throw from the great Gunslinger himself. In 1998, he led the entire league in receiving yardage and earned himself his only Pro Bowl appearance. The greatest moment of Freeman’s career would have to be his amazing catch and run on Monday Night Football, which brought the famous Al Michaels exclamation, “He did what!?” Freeman made the most of his career, earning his way to the Packers Hall of Fame off of over 7,000 career receiving yards. He also managed to win a Super Bowl with the Packers, helping them to the Lombardi Trophy in 1996 with a solid postseason.