I am not a “Cheese Head”. I grew up in Central Iowa where college football reigns supreme, and college football fans on Sunday watch the Bears, Chiefs, Packers and Vikings. I liked the Packers, but I also liked the other three teams I referenced. Although I respected and appreciated how Brett Favre played the game, I would not have described myself as necessarily a “fan” of his.
I met my wife in 2003. She was both a big time Packer and Brett Favre fan, and maybe not even in that order? Her family has had Packer season tickets for years and I started attending Packer games on a regular basis that year. Consequently, I developed a greater allegiance to both the Packers and Brett Favre. I felt as though I was privileged to have the opportunity to personally witness a true Packer and NFL legend such as Favre lead the Packers, and I especially enjoyed the playoff runs of the ’03, ’04 and ’07 seasons.
I felt the pain of the playoff losses that ended those seasons and the opportunity for Brett Favre to earn another Super Bowl ring. I will particularly always remember yelling “No!” when Favre hurled what would turn out to be his final pass as a Packer in overtime of the NFC Championship. A few months later, I watched him tearfully say what I thought was goodbye to the sport he loved, in addition to the organization that I thought he loved, and I guess that I thought loved him.
Of course that was far from the end of the legend of Brett Favre. What ensued in the aftermath of March 2008 heightened tensions among both Packer and NFL fans alike. I was one of those fans who quickly turned against Favre for what I perceived to be his narcissistic shenanigans. Other Packer fans I knew remained loyal to Favre during the ’08 season when he played as a member of the New York Jets.
These fans believed the Packer organization had done the unthinkable in the aftermath of the NFC Championship in 2008 when the organization demanded that Favre make a decision about his future in short order. After all, Favre was a Packer legend and the rationale of many was that the organization should have afforded Favre the luxury of making the decision on his own time. Of course, this sentiment went out the window when Favre’s overtures with the Minnesota Vikings became more and more public. Just as the Packer organization had done the unthinkable by giving Favre a timetable to make his decision, Favre had done the unthinkable as a result of his willingness to play for a Packer archrival.
I recall listening to Steve Young on the Jim Rome Show back in the summer of 2008. Young was talking about what was then transpiring between Brett Favre and the Packer organization. Young explained that no matter on how good of terms a quarterback may be with his organization there is nothing that can prepare that quarterback for the feelings that will arise internally when that quarterback realizes that his organization is preparing for its future without him as quarterback. This is the cold hard fact of the business side of the NFL. Further, Favre’s situation was likely compounded by the fact that there is potentially no other general manager in the NFL who is colder when it comes to the business operations of the organization than Packer General Manager Ted Thompson.
On the other side of this issue was a fact that Fox NFL color analyst Troy Aikman brought up late in the 2009 Packer/Viking game in Green Bay. Aikman stated that he was not so sure that Favre wanted to stay in Green Bay given that Favre may have felt that his best chance to win another Super Bowl was as the quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings? Aikman said that he felt like this was a side of the Favre/Packer saga that was never really explored. I think Aikman was correct with this analysis.
Of course, like so many things in life, the truth of who was at fault probably lies in the middle. Further, now three years removed from this matter it has become clear to me that it was in the best interest of both the Green Bay Packers and Brett Favre for Favre to end his career with the Minnesota Vikings. The Packers won Super Bowl XLV, and had it not been for a penalty for having too many players in the huddle Brett Favre likely would have won Super Bowl XLIV. Both the Packers and Favre are probably better off today as a result of that painful split that occurred back in 2008.
Back in 2008 and 2009, I was as critical of Brett Favre as anybody. However, the time has now arrived for the Packer organization to recognize all of the wonderful things that Favre did for the organization, the City of Green Bay, the State of Wisconsin, and the NFL and its fans. Likewise, it is also time for Brett Favre to acknowledge that he would not be where he is today without the Green Bay Packers.
I was in Wisconsin for Easter weekend. I heard on the local news that weekend that Brett and Deanna Favre had reached out to a soldier and his family who were from Oshkosh, Wisconsin. I appreciated hearing this story. About a month later it was reported that the president of the Packer organization, Mark Murphy, stated that the organization will likely retire Favre’s jersey sometime in the next couple of years. Murphy’s statement seemed to leave the decision up to Brett Favre as to when this will occur. No.
I say that it is time for one of both of these parties to rise above all of this and do what is right for the Green Bay Packers, for Brett Favre, and for Packer and NFL fans alike. Let’s accomplish this sooner, rather than later. How about this coming season?