Brett Favre: The cheesehead's favourite son [GALLO/GETTY]

Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre has been named as the Sports Illustrated 2007 Sportsman of the Year.

The 38-year-old became the fourth professional football player to win the award, bestowed since 1954 to an athlete symbolising in character and performance the ideals of sportsmanship.

Favre has started 249 consecutive games, the longest streak by an NFL quarterback, and this season broke Dan Marino's career records for touchdown passes in leading the Packers to a 10-2 record and a commanding lead in the NFC North division.

Besides his exploits on the gridiron, the magazine cited Favre's philanthropic credentials.

In 1996, Favre established a foundation that has donated more than $4 million to charities in Wisconsin and his home state of Mississippi, including $1 million to Mississippi counties damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Previous NFL players honoured by the magazine were Terry Bradshaw (in 1979 with Willie Stargell), Joe Montana (1990) and Tom Brady (2005).

Source: Agencies