I was angry.
By the time Brett Favre suited up in a Minnesota Vikings uniform for the first time, I had long since sold my green-and-gold #4 jersey on eBay.
When he announced his emotional retirement in the spring of 2008, I thought it was a perfect capper to his legendary career. He had just led the Green Bay Packers to the NFC Championship Game, and in that contest, you could see the old gunslinger was winding down. There wasn’t much left in the tank.
It was a great time for him to go out, having righted the ship after the down years of 2005 and 2006.
Now we could turn the franchise over to the promising, if unproven, youngster they had drafted three years prior, Aaron Rodgers.
It would be a smooth, seamless transition, and it did turn out to be the right move.
That’s when things just got messy. Very few things in life have a storybook ending; we have been beaten over the head with that knowledge year after year.
Let’s try this analogy.
By the early 1990s, the Packers were the former high school valedictorian (the 1960s glory years) who, by his 10-year reunion, had really fallen on hard times (two-plus decades wandering the NFL wilderness).
Favre came along and was like the gorgeous girlfriend and eventual wife who cleaned up our hero, changed his life and brought him back to his former glory and potential. Everything was great on the surface, and they were the picture-perfect couple.
However, the dutiful wife started dropping hints about wanting out of the relationship every year (the annual will-he-or-won’t-he retirement saga).
When this amazing woman left for what we thought was good (the retirement), the franchise moved on and wished her the best.
When Favre started making rumblings later that summer about wanting to come back, the Packers weren’t really interested anymore, so they set him up with the nice, safe accountant across town (the New York Jets trade).
However, Favre grew restless, and what he really wanted was to shake up with the guy’s best friend and next door neighbor (the move to the Minnesota Vikings). When Favre and those savages in purple came across the border and beat the Packers in Lambeau Field, it was the equivalent of the former wife bringing the new boyfriend to your cocktail and flaunting the new relationship.
Of course, for this analogy to work, you have to ignore the fact the Packers were flirting with a younger, cuter potential paramour (Rodgers).
The whole Vikings thing stung and seemed a little petty on Favre’s part.
I remember when Favre signed with the Vikings, I was in Las Vegas and sitting across the table was a Vikings fan.
I asked him if he was excited, and he said, “It’s nice to have a good quarterback, but it feels weird to root for him.”
I just warned him, “You watch; he will break your heart at the worst time possible.”
Fast forward to the NFC Championship game that year when Favre threw an ill-advised interception near the end of regulation. For Packer fans, the radio call of that play was like catnip and the best case of schaudenfreude ever. I can still listen to it on a loop.
With Favre being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this past weekend, I found that those “dark years” when he flirted with other teams were becoming just an aberration in my mind.
I found myself remembering all the gunslinger times, the success and the fact he resurrected a fan base that was absolutely downtrodden. For that, he has to go down as one of the most important people ever involved with the franchise.
Toward the end of his induction speech, Favre told the story of overhearing his father, his high school coach, telling some assistant coaches that if he knew his son, he would redeem himself. That tale brought a lot of tears to the eyes of many in attendance. Of course, the story of Favre having perhaps his best regular-season performance just days after his father died is etched in his legend.
He said he spent the rest of his career trying to redeem himself to his father.
It’s a tale a lot of males can relate to.
Brett, you more than redeemed yourself, despite being an imperfect, but great, player and human being.
Consider the hatchet buried.
Let’s move on and hope the “divorce” from Rodgers is a little more amicable, how ever many years that is from happening.