considering all he did for the Pack, it’s time to end Favre’s exile
Over Super Bowl Weekend in early February, an unusual photo crossed the newswire: Aaron Rodgers with Brett Favre. The two had an apparently chilly relationship since Favre’s departure from the Green Bay Packers, yet there were the two onstage at the NFL Honors presenting the award for Comeback Player of the Year. The general media consensus was that this was Step One in the return of Favre to the Packers family, a return that might allow him to be inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame sooner than anticipated. To which I respond: Why would such rehabilitation be necessary?
Before you say, “Duh, because he played for the Vikings,” believe me, I remember the Favrian drama of 2008-10, and witnessed the cataclysmic decline in Favre’s popularity in Wisconsin. I understand why Packers fans turned against their all-time legend of a quarterback: They felt as though Favre turned his back on them. Yet the question of Favre’s ultimate enshrinement in the team’s Hall of Fame should never have been in doubt. How soon we forget what Brett Favre meant to the fans of the Green and Gold.
For that matter, how soon we forget Favre’s tenuous standing in his first three Packers seasons. I distinctly recall the conventional wisdom circa 1995 that Favre had about one season left to significantly reduce his turnovers and errors or else the team would probably have to look for other options at quarterback. But 1995 became the first of three-straight MVP-winning seasons for Favre and such concerns soon were reduced to the occasional eye roll at an ill-timed interception. His wild on-field ways were justified because he was the “ol’ gunslinger.”
The question of Favre’s ultimate enshrinement in the team’s Hall of Fame should never have been in doubt. How soon we forget what Brett Favre meant to the fans of the Green and Gold.
1995-2007: the glory years of Brett Favre. True, he did not lead the team to a Super Bowl title after the 1996 season, or an NFC Championship after 1997, but he kept the team competitive and oftentimes in the playoffs. He was enjoying the game on the field and seemed eminently relatable as a person, even in the wake of his painkiller addiction controversy in the 1990s. Favre embodied what we fans want in a pro football player, just like the Packers embody what we want in a pro football organization. As long as he helped his team more often than harmed them, he was accepted – loved, really.
Loved so much that the feeling by the mid-2000s was that news of a Brett Favre retirement would result in a declaration of DEFCON 1 in the local media. The world would stop when such an announcement came. We expected it in early 2006 – but then he kept playing. We braced for it in 2007 – and he returned. Alas, it came in 2008 – and then he wanted to come back. We wanted him back too, but the Packers didn’t, and thus he became a New York Jet, and we took out our anger on Aaron Rodgers for daring to fill the role of our state’s football icon. Then Rodgers played better, Favre found his way to the Packers’ arch-rival, and the love switched.
Karma took care of Favre’s dalliance with the Vikings, from the characteristic game-killing interception in the 2009 NFC Championship Game to a general decline in performance during his final season a year later.
The final record? Brett Favre is still responsible for a Packers’ Super Bowl victory, a 63-percent winning percentage with the Pack and a sizable share of the reason for the renaissance of Titletown, USA. As an added bonus, the seasons he did spend in Minnesota merely wrote the latest chapter of Vikings heartbreak and, Packers fans, is that not what you enjoy witnessing from the Vikes? You might think of Favre as an unwitting agent of destruction to your football enemy.
If Favre stuck with his post-2007 retirement, this column would never be needed, and he would be a step below Lombardi and Lambeau among the most-revered Packers. Therefore, considering all Brett Favre did for the Green Bay Packers, for his 16 seasons of excellence and excitement and awards and records and love of the game – in other words, for doing what we hope a football player would do – he deserves immediate induction into the Packers Hall of Fame.