A Favre Cry
how leaving the Pack meant a Super Bowl spot, and joining the Viks meant a spot in the gutter
That is how many days we lived through the experience that was “Minnesota Vikings Quarterback Brett Favre.” This was a thoroughly inconceivable concept three years ago, a mere but exciting fantasy of Vikings fans two years ago, an amalgamation of emotions from his previous lovers and haters a little over a year ago, and an exhausted malaise today.
What do we make of the “Favre As A Viking” Era?
This era was a chapter that changed the dynamic of the Packers-Vikings rivalry. Plenty of personnel have played or worked for both teams, yet no player more connected to the fabric of one team’s history and culture ever played for the other team.
In the days of “Favre As A Jet,” I, die-hard Vikings fan that I am, was somewhat giddy over the idea that Brett Favre could somehow wear the purple-and-gold. I knew the Packers’ attempts to keep Favre from being traded to Minnesota, even after he was shipped to the Jets, meant such a scenario was unlikely, but what a thought! THE definitive Green Bay Packer of the past two decades, a man so beloved in this state that I watched my radio station co-workers go into a panic at the mere rumor of his retirement over the last decade ... playing for the VIKINGS? Too good to be true … until it was true.
A good sociological study of sports fandom could have been conducted in western Wisconsin over the last year-and-a-half. Packers fans who once idolized Brett Favre openly cheered his interceptions and failings ... while others still said “We love ya Brett!” Vikings fans that previously looked forward to his Metrodome difficulties now hoped that the climate-controlled building would enhance his abilities in his old age. We purple folk cringed at the idea of the ole’ gunslinger costing us games late and doing too much ... until he started winning games late by doing just that.
Then came the 2009 NFC Championship Game. No matter that the Vikings had five turnovers by multiple players, or that 12 men were on the field at a critical moment. With the Vikings driving for the winning field goal, Favre threw the ball to the wrong team.
Packers fans responded the next day by simply reminding us that he did the same thing to Green Bay. No guffawing, no teasing, just an observation that we Vikings fans had joined the Favre Club of Disappointment.
THE definitive Green Bay Packer of the past two decades, a man so beloved in this state that I watched my radio station co-workers go into a panic at the mere rumor of his retirement over the last decade ... playing for the VIKINGS? Too good to be true … until it was true.
My mother, a fellow die-hard Vikings fan, thought this unforgivable; Favre putting himself above the team in a shot for glory that horrendously backfired. She will always consider Favre more concerned with himself than the good of the Vikings ... and, no doubt, many Vikings fan now share this belief. The diva antics that were ignored in 2009 wore on Vikings fans in 2010, with his second late-preseason arrival and seeming disagreements with the coaching staff.
How will we remember “Favre As A Viking?” A feast in 2009, but famine in 2010. The Packer conqueror in 2009, the conquered in 2010. Ultimately, no change in the rivals’ success: the Vikings have still never won a championship, while the Packers total theirs in double-digits.
I had a feeling karma would turn on the Vikings when Favre first signed with Minnesota. Considering his motivations for going to the Vikings seemed based in spite, I wondered if he and the team would fall victim to schadenfreude (delight in another’s misfortune). As dramatic a run of playoff failures the Vikings have had, I could not believe their Super Bowl drought would end by signing a rival’s legend who exhibited less-than-noble intentions. Karma caught up to the Vikings. In the end, Favre delivered another Super Bowl win for the Packers, and another super-painful playoff loss for the Vikings. Now, the Packers have a bright future with Aaron Rodgers, while the Vikings lack a solid quarterback pick.
2016 will come, Favre’s name and number will appear on the Lambeau skybox façade, and he will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall Of Fame. Life in this particular NFL rivalry will return to normal, but we may never again match the energy and entertainment that was the 502 days of “Minnesota Viking Quarterback Brett Favre.”