Or at least, he can't be the bad Brett, the quarterback who improvises under pressure and throws the ball to ...
Oh, let's say Darren Sharper. Because the last thing the Vikings want against the Saints in the NFC championship game is to get behind. That will rev up the crowd even more than it will be revved up entering the game, and subject Minnesota to the kind of din that helped it at home in the 34-3 rout of Dallas last week.
So yes, the most experienced player in the NFL's championship games is, in a lot of ways, the player most likely to take his team out of the game early. That's just who he is. We know what we'll get -- more or less -- from Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and even Mark Sanchez.
Here are the top 12 key players in Sunday's championship games:
1. Brett Favre, QB, Vikings: We know Brett is emotional. How much more emotional will he be playing for a trip to the Super Bowl less than 100 miles from his hometown against the team he rooted for as a kid? A team whose fans during Favre's early childhood originated the "bag over the face'' trick. You know. The "Aints."
They don't wear those bags anymore. And Brett can't be too emotional too early, when a quick turnover or two can get the Saints off to a lead and force the Vikings to play catch up, which often can mean more turnovers.
Brett needs eight completions, 228 passing yards and three touchdown passes for NFL career playoff records. He also has already thrown 28 playoff interceptions, including the one two years ago in overtime against the Giants that set up their game-winning field goal at Lambeau Field and kept Favre from the Super Bowl. He also has a six-interception game in the playoffs (at St. Louis) and threw four picks at Lambeau against his current team in 2005.
So be careful.
3. Reggie Bush, RB/KR, Saints: No. 2 overall in the 2006 draft (compare that to Greene). If he does what he did last week -- five carries for 84 yards and a touchdown and an 83-yard punt return for a score -- the Saints will be hard to beat. Remember that Reggie has saved his best for the playoffs -- seven catches for 132 yards, including an 88-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown in the 2007 NFC title game against the Bears. In any case, expect a lot of shots of the Kardashians.
4. Dwight Freeney, DE, Colts: Freeney is known as a pass rusher. But he's also effective at disrupting the run, especially under the more aggressive defense installed by Larry Coyer, the Colts' new defensive coordinator. He'll be matched against D'Brickashaw Ferguson, who has improved markedly and may be quick enough to stop him. But if he needs double-teaming, it frees up Robert Mathis. And if the Colts get to Sanchez, they strip the ball first.
5. Antoine Winfield, CB, Vikings: Named to the Pro Bowl as an alternate this week, despite starting only nine games because of injuries -- in case you missed it, Vikings fans stuffed ballot boxes. And he still sits a lot and lets Bennie Sapp play. Not this week. The Vikings will need both Winfield and Sapp -- playing at high levels -- against Brees and New Orleans' multi-receiver sets. You can't stop the Saints, you can only hope ... Oh, shut up. In any case, if they do contain the Saints, Winfield may not have to play in the Pro Bowl, from which Super Bowl participants will be excused.
6. Sedrick Ellis, DT, Saints: The guy who has to push in the middle of the Saints defense. If he clogs things, he will hold down Adrian Peterson, Although to be fair, the Vikings ran away from Dallas with Peterson rushing for just 63 yards on 26 carries. But the run will be more important to Minnesota on the road, because a multidimensional attack shuts up the crowd a bit and can lead to less chaos with snap counts.
7. Lito Sheppard, CB, Jets: You can expect Darrelle Revis to limit Reggie Wayne, if not shut him down. Sheppard is on the downside of his career, but he has the experience that Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon don't. Still, he gets beaten a lot.
8. Donald Brown, RB, Colts: The Colts are last in the league in rushing. And while Joseph Addai starts and gets the tough yardage, Brown seems to have a burst in him. He had a 45-yard run this year and a 72-yard catch-and-run. He's not Edgerrin James, but a burst or two would be a boon to the Indy offense.
9. Roman Harper, S, Saints: Favre always looks for tight ends near the goal line -- from Mark Chmura on. Now it's Visanthe Shiancoe. That's the strong safety's responsibility and the Saints' strong safety is Harper. That doesn't mean there won't be multiple coverages. But you don't want a linebacker on Shiancoe, especially in scoring territory.
10. Gary Brackett, MLB, Colts: Someone called him "a short Ray Lewis'' last week. Not quite. But he's the brains of the Indy defense and he's always in the right place. The Jets have to account for him if they want to run -- he's only 5-foot-8, but he's a disrupter.
11. Bart Scott, ILB, Jets: Came from Baltimore with Rex Ryan and knows Ryan's defense better than anyone else. One of the stand-up pass rushers in a unit designed to create confusion on third downs and make it difficult for offenses to understand who's coming and who's not. Manning is likely to find Scott as he reads his defensive keys.
12. Bryant McKinnie, LT, Vikings. He protects Favre's blindside. It would be nice if he could keep Will Smith from rushing Favre because, as noted at the start, Favre throws picks when rushed. If there are none, the Vikings have a good shot.