In the most anticipated NFL game of 2009, Brett Favre returned to Lambeau Field wearing the purple helmet of the Minnesota Vikings -- and proceeded to carve up his old teammates. To a chorus of boos each time he left the sideline, Favre completed 17 of 28 passes for 244 yards and four touchdowns as the Vikings beat the Packers, 38-26. Favre's replacement in Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers, threw for only 38 yards in the first half, and he was sacked six times. "Packer fans cheer for the Packers first," Favre said. "I know that. But I hope that everyone in the stadium watching tonight said, 'I sure hate those jokers on the other side, but he does play the way he's always played.' "
Beth A. Keiser/Associated Press
Mike Ditka compiled a 112-68 record in 11 years as head coach of the the Chicago Bears, leading the team to a dominating victory in Super Bowl XX over the New England Patriots. When he returned to Chicago as head coach of the New Orleans Saints on October 5, 1997, Ditka was cheered before, during and after the game. And he brought his bravado with him. "I believe we have more talent [than his Chicago teams]," he said. "We don't have a Walter Payton, but we have more talent, especially on the defensive side." For one Sunday night, Ditka may have been right about his Saints. Behind QB Heath Shuler, the Saints edged the Bears at Soldier Field, 20-17, moving to 2-4 in a season they would eventually finish 6-10. Ditka would not replicate his Chicago success in New Orleans.
Winslow Townson/Associated Press
Days before his return to New England as a member of the Buffalo Bills in December of 2002, Drew Bledsoe recalled playing in Foxborough. "When I was there," he said, "you never know if they're saying, 'Drew' or they're booing ... So they might not even be cheering for me, they might be booing, you never know." For nine seasons, whether fans were booing or cheering his name, Bledsoe had been the face of the Patriots, and the fans rewarded Bledsoe with a standing ovation before the game. Not quite as moved was Bledsoe's former backup, Tom Brady, who led the Patriots to a 27-17 victory over the Bills. Bledsoe went 32-for-51 passing for 328 yards and two touchdowns and four interceptions.
National Football League
When Marcus Allen returned to Los Angeles in November 1993 to face the Oakland Raiders as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs, his agenda was clear: stick it to Al Davis. After 11 years wearing the silver-and-black the future Hall of Fame running back and former Super Bowl MVP had been sent packing the previous offseason, and the Raiders' managing general partner's longtime disdain for Allen was well-known. There was irony in Allen joining the Raiders' division rival. In 17 carries at the LA Coliseum, Allen rushed for 85 yards and 1 TD, as he and QB Dave Krieg led the Chiefs to a 31-20 victory over the Raiders. One of Marcus Allen's better days was surely one of Al Davis' worst.
Matt York/Associated Press
Sunday, October 5th, 2003, was just another day on the NFL schedule. For Emmitt Smith and Dallas Cowboys, it was more than just a football Sunday. As a member of the Arizona Cardinals, the NFL's all-time leading rusher would be lining up against the Cowboys for the first time, after winning three Super Bowls with the franchise in 13 years. Smith was beloved in Dallas and the fans reminded him of their feelings. Unfortunately for Smith and his teammates, that cheering would be the day's only highlight. Smith sprained his left shoulder and left the game in the second quarter, as the Cowboys beat the Cardinals 24-7. Smith carried the ball eight times, gaining -1 yards. It was the worst outing of his career.
Tom Gannam/Associated Press / AP
Kurt Warner had been a two-time NFL MVP in 5 seasons with the Rams, leading the team to two Super Bowl appearances and a victory in Super Bowl XXXIV. When he fell out of favor with head coach Mike Martz and was released in 2004, he made one-year pit stop with the Giants before signing with the Arizona Cardinals. On November 20th, 2005, Warner gave the fans in St. Louis a glimpse of the Greatest Show On Turf, but he did so in a Cardinals uniform. As Martz watched on the sidelines, Warner went 27-for-39, for 285 yards, 3 TDs and 0 INTs. Both Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald had 100-yard receiving days, and each caught a touchdown pass. "It's a continuation of the Kurt Warner story," said Cardinals coach, Dennis Green after the Cardinals 38-28 victory. "He's got a lot of football left in him."
John Amis/Associated Press / FR69715 AP
Michael Vick's 2011 return to Atlanta, as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles, was filled with excitement and controversy, but ultimately ended with a thud… on Vick's helmet. In the lead-up to the game, the nation revisited Vick's crimes while marveling at his enduring skills. The QB's performance during the game was a microcosm of his career, both before and since. Amid cascades of boos, Vick threw 2 TD passes, but also threw an INT and coughed up two fumbles. In the third quarter, with the Eagles leading 24-21, Vick inadvertently collided with teammate, G Todd Herremans, and suffered a concussion. Eagles backup QB Mike Kafka would finish the game, a 35-31 Falcons victory.
John Bazemore/Associated Press
Deion Sanders always had a flair for the dramatic. So it should come as no surprise that, when Sanders returned to Atlanta in 1994 after five years with the Falcons, he transformed his visit with the 49ers into a celebration of his considerable skills in the areas of verbal communication and football. In the third quarter of a game that San Francisco was dominating, Sanders and former teammate Andre Rison found themselves in a war of words. This created the perfect moment for Sanders to intercept a Jeff George pass and run 93 yards for a touchdown. The 49ers won the game, 42-3. The interception was the longest of Sanders' career.
Ed Andrieski/Associated Press / AP
When the Broncos hired former Raiders head coach, Mike Shanahan, before the 1995 season, Al Davis wasn't happy. The Raiders managing general partner was still in a financial dispute with Shanahan, whom he had fired as head coach 4 games into the 1989 season. In Shanahan's first matchup against the Raiders in Denver, he exacted some measure of revenge with a 27-0 victory on a Monday night. During the rematch Week 17 at Oakland, Shanahan's Broncos won 31-28, as a 37-yard-field goal from Jason Elam provided the margin of victory. Before Shanahan, the Broncos had won only 2 of their previous 15 matchups with the Raiders. Over the next 28 games against Oakland with Shanahan, the Broncos won 21 of 28 games against Davis and his team.
Charles Krupa/Associated Press
Curtis Martin enjoyed three 1,000-yard seasons as a Patriot before joining the New York the Jets, guided by Martin's former coach in New England, Bill Parcells. Parcells offered the running back a lucrative contract with a "poison pill" that made it virtually impossible for the Patriots to match the Jets offer. When Martin returned to Foxborough as a member of the Jets on Oct. 19, 1998, he was greeted by boos and a sign that read, "Pull a hamstring." Although Parcells was viewed as more of the antagonist than Martin, it was the running back who antagonized the Patriots to the tune of 107 rushing yards on 28 carries. Vinnie Testaverde's late touchdown pass to Dedric Ward was the finishing touch on a 24-14 Jets victory. Martin would gain at least 1,000 yards rushing in his first seven seasons with the Jets, en route to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
More Photo Essays:
- Week 15 Fantasy waiver wire
- Mind-blowing stats for Week 14 of the 2013 season
- Hall of Fame cases for. . .
- Week 14 Fantasy waiver wire
- Mind-blowing stats for Week 13 of the 2013 season
- Mind-blowing stats for Thanksgiving
- Week 13 Fantasy waiver wire
- Mind-blowing stats for Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady
- Mind-blowing stats for Week 12 of the 2013 season