In the late 1980’s the Falcons became a home for journeyman quarterbacks. David Archer, Turk Schonert, Scott Campbell and Chris Miller, among other names, were brought in and tried at the quarterback position. All failed. That’s what led to Jerry Glanville being named as head coach in 1990. That also led to vice president of player personnel Ken Herock to select as the 33rd overall pick in the 1991 NFL Draft, a projected first round quarterback who had slipped into the second round. He was quarterback Brett Favre out of Southern Mississippi.
The Falcons had never won more than five games in the three seasons with Miller as the starter but they were a team that was beginning to build. Andre Rison had been named a first team All-Pro and Pro Bowler in 1990. Receivers Michael Haynes was already on the roster and Mike Pritchard along with running back Eric Pegram had been drafted along with Favre.
Favre should have been welcomed by head coach Jerry Glanville with open arms. Mel Kiper had this to say in his scouting report on Favre before the 1991 draft, “I really believe strongly that he has the natural ability and overall attitude to make the successful transition to the NFL. Would be ideal for a club looking to develop a starting quarterback of the future, thus allowing him the time necessary to settle in at the pro level.” The problem, Glanville never wanted him.
Instead, Glanville turned another new arrival, Billy Joe Tolliver, to be the backup to Miller. With his demotion to third string, Favre lost his motivation and after the season was traded to the Green Bay Packers, who were struggling behind a failing Don Majkowski.
Because of Glanville’s hard-headedness the Falcons missed out on what could have been the team’s golden age. Tolliver, Bobby Hebert and Jeff George would not have existed in an alternate timeline. Neither would have Chris Chandler, who took the Falcons to one Super Bowl but was mediocre otherwise.
Would the same skill position players have been on the Falcons if Favre had stayed? Maybe not, but it’s the quarterback who turns skill position players into stars. Wide receiver Sterling Sharpe hadn’t been to a Pro Bowl in the two seasons before Favre arrived in Green Bay. In 1992 and 1993 he went to the Pro Bowl along with being named first team All-Pro both seasons. Favre took a lot of players to the Pro Bowl with him in his 16 seasons in Green Bay. The Packers also went to the playoffs 11 times in Favre’s time there, played in four NFC Championship Games and went to two Super Bowls.
So, what did the Falcons gain by having Glanville as head coach when Favre was in Atlanta? Very cool black jerseys and matching helmets. What did they lose? A quarterback with a once in a generation arm who kept the Packers relevant for his entire 16-year run in Green Bay and who ended up inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.