Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

05 Mar 2008

FO on ESPN: Favre's Longevity, Durability Set Him Apart

Was Brett Favre the greatest quarterback in modern NFL history? As I detail in this week's ESPN.com column, the answer depends on how much weight you put on peak performance vs. career value. Using the metrics from the "best quarterback seasons ever" article in PFP 2005, Favre doesn't have a single season in the top 50. Yet, how many quarterbacks gave their teams 15 years of above-average play (and one of slightly below-average play) at football's most important position -- without missing a game? Favre led the league in DPAR twice (1995 and 1996) and was only in the top five three other times (1997, 2001, 2007) but only once had a DVOA below 0% (1999). And yes, I said 1995. I was going to hold the 1995 stuff for July or August, but Favre's retirement might inspire me to put together the commentary and unveil it sooner.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 05 Mar 2008

45 comments, Last at 13 Mar 2008, 1:00pm by Charlie


by Spike (not verified) :: Wed, 03/05/2008 - 2:32pm

my haiku too short
to show Favre value, only
seventeen sylla

by justanothersteve (not verified) :: Wed, 03/05/2008 - 2:41pm

Brett Favre, Doug Williams
Two QBs who demonstrate
Some stats don't mean squat

by ammek (not verified) :: Wed, 03/05/2008 - 2:57pm

Appetite completely whetted for the 1995 stats...

I have no interest in all-time greatest ever of all-time arguments so I'll skip that. Just a remark that none of Favre, Elway or Marino played with a hall of fame quality receiver for any significant period. Only Elway had an RB of note, and that was in his last four seasons; and of the three Favre definitely played behind the weakest offensive lines.

I'm not sure that Brett will emerge above-average for 1993, if and when the stats for that year get compiled. It was his worst season, though he finished it with an Elishaesque flourish: that bomb to Sterling Sharpe in the playoffs at Detroit.

Nonetheless, that makes for 14 above-average years, plus a couple of average ones, and a career DPAR that is going to be hard to top, unless Peyton Manning is an android - which he may well be.

No-one keeps stats for "exciting play", unfortunately.

by ammek (not verified) :: Wed, 03/05/2008 - 3:03pm

Oh and is there statistical evidence for the claim that Favre ran offenses reliant on the downfield throw? I always conceived of Holmgren's offense as Orthodox West Coast Plus A Few Bombs. Favre regularly led the league in passes to RBs (viz 2001) and TEs, when he had some.

Favre's completion percentage also was consistently above the league average - it just wasn't insane like Manning's and Young's.

by starzero (not verified) :: Wed, 03/05/2008 - 3:07pm

manning is a robot. that doesn't mean he can't break. favre played with injury, and lasted as long as he did because of passion, not machine-like consistency. though some may think manning the better qb, i'd rather watch favre any way. and i'm a colts fan.

by andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 03/05/2008 - 3:28pm

longevity, I dunno. Jim Marshall started 282 consecutive games and he's not in the Hall of Fame and the things are going probably never will be...

With Favre I don't think its any one thing, but a combination of things that gets him up where he ranks, and the longevity is just part of it.

by Independent George (not verified) :: Wed, 03/05/2008 - 3:32pm

I think that for the NFL, there's no such thing as greatest-of-all-time. We're really talking about greatest-of-modern-era, which, in turn, is often (though not always) defined as the post-merger era.

With some adjustments, you can compare Favre with Bradshaw or Unitas; I've yet to see a convincing way to compare him with, say, Luckman. The games were just too different.

by jeesh! (not verified) :: Wed, 03/05/2008 - 3:38pm

I just can't believe he retired because he was "mentally " tired. For God Sakes man ! He played ball !

by Marxist (not verified) :: Wed, 03/05/2008 - 4:28pm

9: If you think the work of being an NFL player isn't extremely hard, physically and mentally, you're not watching the same game I'm watching.

Favre will definitely be remembered for durability and playing at a high level over time, rather than spectacularly good quality of play, although there were a couple of seasons where he was the league's best QB. I was always impressed by his self-confidence, both as a positive and negative trait. He had no fear of his own mistakes, which led him to make many spectacular plays, and some bad ones as well. Trent Dilfer once commented that Favre led the league in dropped interceptions, because he threw the ball with so much force and confidence. That's anecdotal, but it sounds about right. Unfortunately, as a 49ers fan I got little enjoyment out of Favre's best seasons, since the sight of him would instantly make me want to vomit. And I mean that in the best way possible.

by TomHat (not verified) :: Wed, 03/05/2008 - 5:11pm


come on guys, spouting out sentimental comments where his actions on the field were given some sort of greater or better motive than others, or even worse, a statement about how he outperformed...his performance... is just annoying.

by Harris (not verified) :: Wed, 03/05/2008 - 5:44pm

Joining TomHat on the anti-sentimental side of the room, let's not forget that Farve had a fair amount of chemical help playing a lot of those games. It's whole lot easier playing with injury when you're doped to the gills. Props to the dude for overcoming his addiction and staying a great player and all, but let's not hurt ourselves polishing his man-apples.

by Daniel (not verified) :: Wed, 03/05/2008 - 5:51pm

Re 10: If the sentimental crap is bugging you, don't watch it. I don't. It's sad, I used to watch ESPN religiously, now I can hardly sit through more than 10 minutes without wanting to claw out my eyes and puncture my eardrums. Favre was very popular with the media, so it is no surprise thet they are falling over themselves to bestow upon him the greatest accolades. Favre has earned much of the praise, he's a great player. I'm glad he spared us the 'Brett Favre Farewell Tour' by announcing his retirement before the season started.

by andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 03/05/2008 - 6:02pm

#8 - Its not the playing ball. They play ball for a few hours for at most a couple dozen sundays.

They have to prepare year-round for those sundays. That's what he probably wanted a break from. All that work so he could be successful then.

by Mr. Hat (not verified) :: Wed, 03/05/2008 - 6:07pm

Re #4
PFR blog did something a while back where they tried to create a metric a while back to measure "exciting plays." Unfortunately, I don't have it bookmarked here, and can't find it in 15 seconds of websearch, but if you take a look around there it shouldn't be too hard to find.

by Feagles - King of Punts (not verified) :: Wed, 03/05/2008 - 6:20pm

Anyone have an over/under on "passion for the game," "will to win," or "riverboat gambler" comments the article gets?

I've tried to draw some sort of analogy to people's feelings about Favre, and one that keeps coming to mind is Derek Jeter. In an article praising almost every part of his game, people get upset when Jeter's fielding is criticized. In articles about Favre where 99% of the content is complimentary, people get riled up about the 1% that is negative.

Great player, and it was fun to watch him while it lasted (even if I am a Giants fan).

by Tally (not verified) :: Wed, 03/05/2008 - 7:36pm

re 15:
Brady would be the more appropriate Jeter comparison, but I see your point. People only use stats which support their preconceptions, and when the stats don't, they denigrate the stats and appeal to intangibles.

by bravehoptoad (not verified) :: Wed, 03/05/2008 - 8:33pm

What stands out about Favre to me was the strength of his arm...haven't seen its like since Elway. I haven't seen anyone in the league with an arm like that.

Someone also pointed out to me that--while he's a nice guy--he's also pretty stupid. I listened in vain for a reason to think he wasn't.

by TomHat (not verified) :: Wed, 03/05/2008 - 8:41pm

I personally think that *if* someone is "clutch" or has a "will to win", then that means they are a bad player. If you have a will to win, that means that you will play better under pressure or clutch situations. Due to my assumption that people are unable to do some sort of incredible hulk superpower thing, if a player has been proven to play much better during clutch or extremely important situations, I believe it means that its not because they get *better* when the game is on the line, it means they were *slacking off* during all the other parts of the game.

Note, I dont think this of Favre, just comes to mind whenever I hear clutch getting thrown around the room...

by Mr. Hat (not verified) :: Wed, 03/05/2008 - 9:54pm

Re #18
Kinda OT, but this thread has been boring...
What if when people really say "clutch", they really just mean "doesn't choke"? If a player performs at X level in the regular season against playoff-caliber teams, and most players perform at 90% of their X level in the playoffs because of the added pressure, but there are some players who still perform at 100% of X level, how should we treat that?

by Daniel (not verified) :: Wed, 03/05/2008 - 9:59pm

Does that mean Adam Vinatieri slacks off during the whole game and only brings it during clutch situations? Maybe a player isn't slacking but, in fact they are setting up the other team. When playing a close game it is reasonable to assume that coaches and players reserve certain strategies for the right moment/situation.

by Lo Pan (not verified) :: Wed, 03/05/2008 - 10:04pm

All i know is that he usually made games interesting till the fouth quarter. Would he throw it away with crazy stuff or pull it out against the odds.

Plus for him it was never about the money.

by Reinahrd (not verified) :: Wed, 03/05/2008 - 10:30pm

I don't understand what's wrong with liking Brett Favre, NFL is entertainment and he was a very entertaining player for a variety or reasons... we marveled at his toughness, he can gun the ball around, he is a unique qb, etc

by D (not verified) :: Wed, 03/05/2008 - 10:50pm

Any chance you can release an update of the chart that appeared in PFP '06 ("Is Steve McNair a Hall of Famer?) that includes the last two years of Farve's career?

by BDC (not verified) :: Wed, 03/05/2008 - 11:38pm


Yea, when he missed those two easy field goals in the SB against Carolina, he was just setting them up for the clutch kick later on right?

by RickD (not verified) :: Thu, 03/06/2008 - 2:19am

Are people arguing that Favre was "clutch"?

Look, Favre was great, but on his last oppurtunity to be "clutch", in overtime against the Giants in the NFC championship game, he threw a miserable interception.

re: 18
I dare you to tell David Ortiz that all his game-winning and postseason HRs imply that he's "slacking" the rest of the time. What is implied by "clutch" is that a player is able to bring an extra level of focus when it's needed. Arguing that said player should be so focused all the time ignores the reality of human nature, namely that nobody can maintain their highest level of focus all the time.

It's like seeing a sprinter run 100 meters in 10 seconds and asking why they cannot keep it up for a marathon.

by BDC (not verified) :: Thu, 03/06/2008 - 12:51pm

25: That is what is implied, but it is wrong. You mention Ortiz and his homers. It isn't that he is slacking the rest of the time, it just means he continues to do in post season what he was already doing in the regular season. He doesn't "get better" because the game is on the line, which is what "clutch" believers claim when they say a player is "clutch".

For the record. Regular season: 36 Home runs per 162 games played.

Post Season: 34 Home runs per 162 games played.

by sippican (not verified) :: Thu, 03/06/2008 - 2:59pm

I'm a Pats fan.

But like many New Englanders of a certain vintage, you had to have another team to root for first, as the NFL is older than the Pats. Many New Englanders are still Giants fans, for instance.

There were a lot of people who were Packers fans in the sixties from all over. When I was just a kid I read Green Bay Diary by Gerry Kramer (Brought to you by Personna!) over and over again. It was Vince Lombardi. He was the face of that team. He was the face of football. His name is on the goddamn trophy.

Brett Favre is the only other person whose name is synonymous with that team. That's the rarest of things in sports. He is...er...was the face of that franchise for a good long time.

Bill Russell. Gordie Howe. Babe Ruth. Bobby Orr. Those sorts of people. The face of the franchise.

Peyton Manning is throwing the ball all over the place for years and gets his face on TV every ten seconds and it's still Johnny Unitas I think of when you mention that horseshoe. Doesn't even matter what town they're in.

Favre was the rarest of things. Say something pleasant or nothing at all.

by TomHat (not verified) :: Thu, 03/06/2008 - 3:04pm

yeah, 25, the fact that you think David Ortiz is clutch shows that clutch is something made up in the mind, nothing else. Ortiz hit lots of game winning home runs because Ortiz hits lots of home runs, and has been put in the situation to make them look clutch on a more regular basis. Only two players in the history of baseball have had a statistically noticable difference between their clutch performance and their non clutch performance (dont remember who, but not ortiz).

secondly, in refernece to your statement about Favre, the fact that your entire opinion about how clutch he is hinges upon a single drive is proof enough that people's opinion about clutch is formed due to extremely small sample size, especially because at the end of the day, its the most recent game that is the only thing on anyone's mind.

as for the 100 m dash in 10 seconds, well thats a terrible analogy, because playing football for a game or a drive is not like sprinting the 100 m dash, and you get a week off in between each game. But lets use 100 m dash reference. Lets say a guy has 30 races a year, and then at the end of the year is the olympics, which is one race. His clutchness would be based upon that one race, when in reality, him racing better or worse during that one race was not because he tried harder, but was because he hit a higher deviation (or lower under "choke" philosophy). all 30 of those races are extremely important to him, it isnt like he just rolls out of bed, grabs a slurpee and heads over to the racetrack. And if he does, then he isnt cluch, he just slacks off the rest of the time.

re 19: Ive thought about that, but the thing is that if the case is that they simply dont play worse, I think that would apply for most people. I mean, I certainly believe that people choke, but I think that 95% of people in major sports do not choke. I mean, if you are playing football in front of 100,000 fans, you are already playing at a high enough level that if you are one to choke under pressure you would already be choking. Therefore for you to be a choker you would have to be comfortable playing at a professional level with 100,000 people judging your every move, but you just cant handle that little extra pressure that the playoffs brings.

by Daniel (not verified) :: Thu, 03/06/2008 - 3:38pm

I wouldn't call Favre clutch, but he was definitely 'money.' He earned his paycheck week in and week out and was worth the price of admission.

by TomHat (not verified) :: Thu, 03/06/2008 - 8:20pm

Oh yeah, I bet that Favre not missing a game is more valuable than it is in baseball, because if your QB gets injured, a lot of the time it basically means you have massively reduced your chances of winning a game, because most backup QBs are below "replacement level" by a significant margin simply because they are not as familiar with the players and the plays. I mean, Favre would look even better if you took the other QBs and gave them the DPAR/DVOA of the backups during the games that they missed.

by TomHat (not verified) :: Thu, 03/06/2008 - 8:24pm

edit: I would say "the generic play of a backup" since you dont want to blame the QB for that particular backup QB's gameplay, but the problem is it kind of depends, because if you look at teams like chicago, it isnt like they were playing backups so much as that they didnt really have a full on starter. I mean, depending upon when in the season the injury is, and how long the injury is, the average value of the backup will change (like if you only miss 1 game, the backup most likely will suck more during that 1 game than he will in subsequent games because he will get more practice time with the team. Also, if you miss a whole season its equvilant to replacement level because they backup got the whole season worth of practice)

by Craig (not verified) :: Fri, 03/07/2008 - 1:09am

Re: 27, great point. I too grew up at the end of the Lombardi era. They set the standard, the only NFL 3-peat, and 5 championships in 7 years. You only need to say their first names: Vince, Bart, and Brett. Greatness personified with their excellence, commitment, and class. They are the faces of the NFL’s most unique and storied franchise. It was Brett who brought us back to that special place. It was a great time. Thanks Brett!

P.S. This must be what it feels like when your NFL franchise leaves town?(Colts, Rams, Ravens/Browns, Cards, Raiders, etc, etc)

by Tom D (not verified) :: Fri, 03/07/2008 - 6:44pm

Re 32:

"the NFL’s most unique and storied franchise."

Going overboard with the homerism much?

by sippican (not verified) :: Fri, 03/07/2008 - 10:53pm

OK, Tom D, why don't you prove Craig wrong about his assessment of the Packers, and make a list of all the NFL teams that are publicly owned with a board of directors who serve without salary. Then you can make a list of any franchise in any sport in America with that management structure. Then you can make a big long list of American Legion Posts that owned NFL franchises. Then you could make a list of all the teams that have been playing in the same stadium since 1957. Then you could make a list of all the teams that have won twelve league championships. Then you could make a list of all the teams that have won three league championships in a row. Then you can make a list of all the teams that have won three league championships in a row twice. Or five in seven years. How many coaches have their name on the championship trophy? You suppose they did that because Vince did a bang-up job in Washington for a year?

Personally, being a Pats fan, I wouldn't have minded so much if Eli Manning hoisted the Weeb Eubank or the Wayne Fontes trophy over his head this year. It's the Lombardi one you want to get your hands on, after all.

You could look up "unique" in the dictionary while you're at it. Or just mapquest Lambeau Field.

by Craig (not verified) :: Sat, 03/08/2008 - 1:08am

re:33 & 34. Thanks sippican - well said once again. Yes, I am a Packer fan, but I do not think I was overstating, merely stating the facts. The Green Bay Packers have a very deep and rich tradition. Packer’s history is deeply woven into the fabric of professional football. There are great players and coaches, and then there are legendary players and coaches. When I think of these legendary figures I think of them as (the face of) the team. These legendary players and coaches somehow transcend the team and often the sport- they are the team personified – the face of “it. Favre and Starr fit in this category for the Packers. Butkus and Payton for the Bears. Landry and Staubach for the Cowboys. Lombardi for all of professional football. Unfortunately for the fans, in today’s free agency market, great players and coaches come and go and their ability to be the face of the franchise diminishes. But when it does happen, it’s truly special. Packer fans feel like in some way we are losing the Packers with Brett retiring.

by bigcheese (not verified) :: Sat, 03/08/2008 - 5:43am

Craig, Sippican:

Thumbs up!

A player's retirement, especially an inarguably great player's retirement, after an inarguably long and successful career, is an opportunity for people to show some class, even if they didn't particularly like the player.

Sadly, lots of people here lack class.

For example, I look forward to the day Peyton Manning retires, so I can finally say some nice things about him.

by Charlie (not verified) :: Sat, 03/08/2008 - 2:36pm

It depends what you mean by "most unique and storied". Green Bay's public-ownership and small-town status are clearly unique, as Sippican says, not just in the NFL but in all American sports.

But is it a fact that they're the "most storied" NFL franchise? It's such a vague term. GB have the most titles (albeit only one in the last 40 years), but other teams have been in existence longer, won more Superbowls, won more games, and have more players in the Hall of Fame. It depends what you mean by "storied": I think "one of the most storied" or "arguably the most storied" would be more accurate.

But perhaps this is just massive pedantry on my part.

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Mon, 03/10/2008 - 7:39pm

Re #37: I don't think it's pedantry. I thought exactly the same thing when I read that comment.

Is Green Bay storied? Beyond a shadow of a doubt. Is it the most storied franchise in the NFL? Here's where we hit that shadow of a doubt. Sure, they've been in the same stadium for a long time, but Washington has the consecutive sellouts record and the attendence records. Sure, they're publically owned, but the Raiders are the only team to be owned by a former coach. Yes, they have a lot of championships, but the Bears have more wins and tons of franchises have more SB victories. Are there lots of things that make Green Bay unique? Sure, but there are also lots of things that make any other franchise unique. The phrase "most unique" is an oxymoron. Unique means "one of a kind", and nothing can possibly be any more one of a kind than anything else. It'd be like calling a team the "most undefeated". It's a simple yes/no proposition- either you are, or you aren't, with no varying degrees on which to apply superlatives.

Besides, everyone knows that Denver's the most unique franchise. They have a consecutive sellouts streak that extends back to before they had their first winning season. They also registered the AFL's first win, as well as the AFL's first win against the NFL, and don't even get me started on their original socks.

by sippican (not verified) :: Mon, 03/10/2008 - 10:57pm

Well, don't feel bad about being a pedant. It would only be pedantry if you had any idea what you were talking about.

The word "and" is a correlative and coordinating conjunction. It turns the separate words "unique" and "storied" into what is called a compound element, which in English means that it is treated as a single thing that can be modified by an adjective. The word "most" is used as a modifier of the compound element "unique and storied," and is not only grammatically correct, but I believe is factually accurate. It is against the rules of the NFL for another team to exist in the form of the Packers. No other team ever has. No other team ever will. Any coach can own an NFL team. They just don't happen to right now, although part-ownership seems to be discussed frequently now for the most desirable candidates. And George Halas and Paul Brown owned the teams they coached.

Now about those Denver socks...

by kibbles (not verified) :: Tue, 03/11/2008 - 4:25am

I ask again, how can a franchise be the most unique? New England is the only NFL franchise whose name represents a region rather than a city or state (or two states, in Carolina's case). Tampa Bay is the only NFL franchise that represents a body of water. Both of these franchises are unique in the NFL... but which is more unique? Which team was more undefeated, the 1972 Dolphins or the 1976 University of Indiana basketball team? Who was more victorious, the 2006 Florida Gators or the 2007 LSU Tigers? Which is more false, a claim that the sky is green or a claim that the grass is blue? All of these are simple yes/no propositions and therefore cannot be modified by a superlative. Say what you want about "unique and storied" being a compound element, that wording clearly applies "most" (a superlative) to "unique" (a word that cannot be modified by a superlative). You want to call them the most storied unique franchise, fine, although again that depends on your definition of "storied". You want to say they have a unique ownership structure, that's fine too, but I fail to see how an ownership structure makes a franchise more unique than, say, representing a body of water or owning the consecutive sellouts record. You want to call their 5 championships in 7 years "unique", be my guest, although you have to modify it to "5 NFL championships in 7 years" because of Cleveland's run, and suddenly you're parsing hairs a little fine. Pittsburgh's 4 Superbowls in 6 years is just as unique. As is New England's 4 SB appearances in 6 years in a 30+ team era. As are a bunch of other events in the history of a bunch of other franchises, all of which are equally unique despite more traditional ownership structures.

Hell, you want to talk about unique franchises, how about the Atlanta Falcons? Never in their history have they had back-to-back winning seasons. I think we'll see another "threepeat" long before we see another team go 40+ years without back-to-back winning seasons.

by Charlie (not verified) :: Tue, 03/11/2008 - 12:55pm

I would assume that "unique and storied", while becoming a single term, could only be modified by an adjective if both terms could already be modified by that adjective individually. Since "unique" is not susceptible to a superlative, the phrase "most unique and storied" must be grammatically incorrect. I happily admit to not being an expert on grammar, however: feel free to point me to a guide that says otherwise.

But the grammar, and the mistaken suggestion that something can be more or less unique is a red herring. Why should it be beyond discussion ("a fact", as you have twice claimed) that GB are 'the most storied franchise in the NFL'? What do you understand by the vague term 'most storied'? Why are you so reluctant to qualify it with 'arguably'?

by Craig (not verified) :: Wed, 03/12/2008 - 2:10pm

Kibbles - thought I would point out some issues with your comments.

For starters, The Patriots started out as the Boston Patriots, changing to NE in 1971. Tampa Bay, the only team named after body of water (you may want to refer to a map of Wisconsin and Lake Michigan).

Anyway, it’s hard to fathom that the Johnny-come-lately teams you mention, which can into Pro football existence in 1960, or as recently as 1993. So much for contradicting “Storied” – as in a rich in history and tradition. Try to find another teams that is the same franchise, same name (for example The Chicago Staleys became the “Bears in 1921, in same city, since 1919

Sellout and season tickets: The sell-out Redskins streak started in 1967. The Packers have sold out every game in Green Bay since 1959 – 247 in a row. Also every preseason game and postseason game during that stretch would inflate the streak to 336.

The waiting list for tickets was 74,659 ( start of the 2007 season). An average of 70 people give up their tickets every year, which means you'll have your tickets by the 3074 season if you are last on the list.

Just the facts.

Charlie and Kibbles: By the way, the Official NFL History site regarding the Packers begins:” The incredible saga of the Green Bay Packers”.

“Unique”, have you finished making you list re: 34

by Charlie (not verified) :: Wed, 03/12/2008 - 3:47pm

So it's a fact that the Packers are clearly "more storied" than the Bears, who have existed longer, who have won more games, who have more players in the Hall of Fame; than the Cowboys, who have been to twice as many Superbowls; than the many, many teams who have won more titles since the merger. Is it still also a fact that they are "the most unique", even though such a thing is impossible?

No-one has said the Packers do not have a storied history; it is the suggestion that they are - without question - the most storied NFL franchise that grates, and that the suggestion that one might temper the claim with "arguably" is dismissed.

by Craig (not verified) :: Thu, 03/13/2008 - 10:27am

Charlie, you should try making your case with a one to one team comparison to support your argument. Cherry picking stats from multiple teams just further support the uniqueness when compared on a one-to-one basis. Obviously the NFL has a much broader and deeper history than any one team. Have you finished your list (Re: 34)?

by Charlie (not verified) :: Thu, 03/13/2008 - 1:00pm

Ok, for the third time: Chicago have existed longer, have won more games, have a higher winning percentage, and have more players in the Hall of Fame than Green Bay. Is it therefore "a fact" that Green Bay are more storied than the Bears?

I accept - everyone accepts - the fact that GB is unique insofar as they are publicly owned, survive in a small town and that they have won more NFL titles than any other team. They are not "the most unique" because it's a term that doesn't make any sense.

They are a very storied franchise, no question. Perhaps they are the most storied franchise in the NFL - I just think it's a matter of debate.

If you want to say they have the most titles, no-one can argue. If you want to say they are the only publicly-owned NFL team, no-one can argue. If you want to say they are the most storied, I think you have to concede it's not a fact, but a matter of debate.

If you don't see that then we must have different ideas about the meaning of the word "fact".