Favre's ex-teammates: We were better

Updated: October 28, 2009, 3:13 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Earlier this season, Brett Favre said this of the 2009 Minnesota Vikings: "Physically, and from a talent level, this is the best team I've ever been on."

Favre's teammates from the 1996 Green Bay Packers team -- which won the Super Bowl -- would beg to differ.

As Favre prepares to return to Lambeau Field for the first time as the quarterback of the rival Vikings, members of the 1996 Packers told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that as good as the Vikings are, they don't stack up to a team that featured a dominant Reggie White on defense and Favre as the league MVP at quarterback.

Favre did say later that he wasn't trying to slight the '96 Packers. Still, while his ex-Packers teammates acknowledge the Vikings' strengths, they believe their team was better.

"To say that the team he's on now, after seven games, is better than the '96 team -- that's just preposterous. Not only did we have the No. 1 defense in 1996, but we had No. 1 special teams," former safety LeRoy Butler told the Journal Sentinel. "I bleed green and gold so much. I don't want somebody to beat my team."

Mark Chmura, a tight end on the '96 team, said he went through the rosters position by position and could not find an advantage for the Vikings. "And it all starts with Brett -- Brett's not as good as he was," he said, according to the report.

"I mean, you're talking about the No. 1 defense in the league at that time, maybe one of the best defenses ever to play the game," Chmura added, according to the report. "Don't get me wrong. Favre is still a good quarterback, but he was unbelievable in the day. When we played back then, teams feared us. I don't know if teams fear the Minnesota Vikings today. We knew no one could beat us at home, absolutely nobody."

And former Packers left tackle Ken Ruettgers said the '96 Packers were so good that he knew as early as spring workouts that he was playing on a team with the potential to be special, according to the report.

"No doubt there was great talent on that 1996 team," Ruettgers said, according to the report. "In the spring, during workouts, I came home and told my wife: 'This team is going to the Super Bowl.' It's just that feeling you get when you're around guys who are all putting their own egos on the backburner and coming together for what's best for the team. We had some teams that were talented in the past, but there was no team where it was like, 'Wow, we're going this year.' "

The 1996 Packers went 13-3 in the regular season and beat the New England Patriots 35-21 in Super Bowl XXXI, earning the team's third Super Bowl title.