Why I Still Love Brett Favre

M. S.Correspondent IAugust 20, 2009

26 Jan 1997:  Quarterback Brett Favre of the Green Bay Packers celebrates with teammate tight end Jeff Thomason during Super Bowl XXXI against the New England Patriots at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The Packers won the game, 35-21. Mandatory
Mar. 6, 2008: The day that I thought changed my life. 
Yes, you’d only know it if you were a Green Bay Packers fan, but Brett Favre has meant that much to me and every other Cheesehead.  I’d go out on a limb and say no other player has meant more to an NFL franchise than Favre has. 
As I watched his press conference on NFL Network, I found myself choked up and literally fighting back tears.

He spoke of how he felt he had given as much as he could give to the Green Bay Packers and that there was nothing more to give.  Seeing him play my whole life, I knew first-hand the joy he gave me and rest of the Packers faithful. 

This was THE best quarterback to ever play the game hanging his cleats up for good.  Hanging up his smile.  Hanging up his touchdowns.  Everything was gone and it was time for me to move on with the Green Bay Packers without Brett Favre, something I had never known.

For the next two or so months, I dealt with the mystery that was life without No. 4 and decided that newly installed quarterback Aaron Rodgers could get the job done.  With a pin-point accurate arm and the credentials that almost made him the first overall pick in 2005, everything was in place.

Then one day, while watching Sportscenter, breaking news came out that Brett Favre had the itch to play football once again and was considering coming back for another year. 

YES!  My hero was back to take the Packers to the promised land and realized that the ol’ gunslinger still had something left in that cannon of his.  Not so fast.

As more and more reports came to light, it was discovered that general manager Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy had already told Aaron Rodgers he was the quarterback of the future and that, somehow, the Green Bay Packers had moved on from Brett Favre.

What?  So you are telling me that you are showing the door to the greatest thing that has ever happened to your franchise and almost led you to the Super Bowl last season?  That’s right.  The Packers, my pride and joy, did the unthinkable and told Brett Favre “no”.

They told him he could come in and back up Rodgers for the season but could not compete for the starting job whatsoever.  Someone once said that if a team has two candidates for starting quarterback, they really have none.  In what was more of a bluff than anything, the Packers gave Favre that option which he decided to take.

Favre never took the bait and did not show up to training camp, but did send his official reinstatement to the NFL which was granted a few days later.  After a lengthy talk with McCarthy in Green Bay, it was decided that Favre coming to training camp was not going to help anyone’s party.

A few days after that, my hero was holding up a New York Jets jersey and smiling, ready for a new start with a new team.  How could the Packers do this to my favorite player to ever step on the field to play the greatest game on earth? 

I was mad at the Packers for what seemed like the first time since the Ray Rhodes hiring, and knew it would take time to get over.

Nine wins and seven losses later, Favre had again hung the cleats up as he announced his retirement from the New York Jets. 

To make a long story short, there were rumors about him wanting to come to Minnesota early in the offseason and it seemed as though a different official from the Vikings was taking a plane to Mississippi every weekend.

Favre asked for his release from the Jets, had surgery on his shoulder, and began working out at the same high school he did the previous offseason.  When push came to shove and the Vikings’ head coach Brad Childress put a deadline on Favre, he decided he did not have enough in the tank to come back.  Favre was retired once again.

Three weeks after that, the saga another unbelievable turn as it was rumored Favre was set to sign a contract with the Vikings out of nowhere.  The same quarterback, who three weeks ago said he was done for good, was coming back for another season.

Man oh man, was it ever fun to look at message boards and forums that day!  I learned who Benedict Arnold was, saw a picture of Judas wearing a Favre jersey, and heard Favre called a lot of different names that I wouldn’t say to my worst enemy.

But as I read on and on about how mad everyone was at Favre, Ted Thompson, and the Packers organization, it hit me that this was no one’s fault.

Back in May of 2008, two months after Favre has his initial retirement press conference, Favre supposedly went to the Packers and told him that he once again had the itch to play football. 

The Packers told Favre that they would love to have him back and were ready to welcome him in with open arms.  A few days later, No. 4 told the Packers the feeling had passed and he would stay retired.

Somewhere in between that conversation and the day I saw the Sportscenter Breaking News, the Packers decided that Aaron Rodgers was their man. 

While he had not accomplished much other than two season-ending injuries in his career, the Packers felt he was good enough to become the franchise quarterback everyone had hoped he would be.

When Favre came calling once again, the Packers welcomed him in, but this time with a clause thrown in.  Sure, the Packers knew Favre would not come in as a back-up, but at least they made the offer. 

They didn’t kick Favre out, make him retire, or tell him he was no good.  They eventually gave him wishes of starting at quarterback by trading him to the Jets and everyone went their way.

It was no longer fair for the Packers to have to keep waiting on Favre going back and forth, and at some point they had to have something in place for training camp.  Making Rodgers their go-to guy gave him full confidence and gave the Packers a definite starter at the most important position on the field.

It has always been my thinking that no player or person is ever bigger than the franchise itself.  Yes, I believe Favre has meant more to the Packers than any other human being alive, but as close as he is to God in Green Bay, he still is not. 

The Packers were here before Favre and have survived after him, and that was something he was going to have to deal with.

A lot has been made about the real reason for Favre coming back.  Some believe he genuinely wants to return to try to add another Super Bowl ring to his storied resume, while others believe he is coming back to spite Ted Thompson and the Packers.

Whatever you believe the reason to be, Favre is not at fault for this either.  He isn’t Judas and he isn’t Benedict Arnold.  There are no daggers in the Green Bay Packers’ back with Favre’s fingerprints on it. 

As much as it hurts and as physically sick as it makes my stomach, Favre is not at fault in the situation and I support his playing for the Vikings.

Last week I wrote an article explaining why Michael Vick deserves a second chance in the NFL, despite his past mistakes and the negative feelings that people would show towards him.  If we are going to let a convicted felon back in the league, then there’s no reason Favre can’t play again.

Yes, it’s annoying and we wish that he would just make up his mind on whether or not to play, but who cares if he is indecisive?  The NFL is better with Brett Favre and there is no disputing that.  The first time Favre felt that now-notorious “itch”, he wanted to come back and play for the Packers.

The Packers made it clear that Favre could not come back and start for the Packers but told him there were other options for him.  He exercised that option and played for a team that wanted him in the New York Jets and went on his way. 

Yes, he reportedly did not respond to any of Aaron Rodgers’ calls and might have slipped in a few knocks on Ted Thompson in some interviews, but anything he did was going to be blown out of proportion based on the situation.

Now let’s talk about the whole situation with the Vikings.  When rumors popped up about him wanting to play again, I had no problem with it.  The “here we go again” sigh came into play and I knew that ESPN would be drooling all over the place to get information on one more Favre return, but alas he decided to stay retired.

Then he decided that he wanted to play once more.  The team that was willing to take him and he also wanted to play for happened to be the Minnesota Vikings.  He is good friends with Brad Childress and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.  Simply put, a guy wanted to play football and one team was willing to take him in.

If you want to believe that Favre is doing this to get back at the Packers, go ahead and believe that.  Be mad at Favre and do not cheer for him when he enters Lambeau Field on Nov. 4.  Forget the great memories that he left us for 17 years and the Super Bowl he brought us.

As for me, I wish Brett Favre the best.  I do not wish the Minnesota Vikings anything good and hope that the Packers embarrass both Favre and the Vikings both times they meet this season.  But it’s still Favre and he is still the same guy that I tried to replicate hundreds of times in my backyard.

If you want to be mad at someone, be mad at the Vikings.  The Minnesota faithful won’t want to hear this, but they handled the situation terribly and came out looking pretty bad.   

Childress told Favre that there was a strict deadline for him and there would be no going back on his situation.  Three weeks later, all credibility Childress had was out the window.

It’s quite obvious that Favre did not want to attend any part of training camp and was going to wait until it was over to make his return, but the fact that Childress lied to his players, the fans, and everyone else makes him look pretty bad.

Last season, it was much easier to cheer for Favre’s team and Favre himself.  The Jets had no affiliation with the Packers, and the better the Jets did during the year, the better the draft pick in return would be for Green Bay.  This time around, any move Favre makes will directly affect the Packers.

That being said, I am a Packers fan before I am a Brett Favre fan.  I trusted that Thompson and McCarthy had it right when they decided on Rodgers, and a year later they look right.  Argue what Favre has or doesn’t have left in the tank to play for the Vikings, but the Packers are better off with Rodgers.

I hope he enjoys playing football and shows it in his emotions because, regardless of helmet color or uniform, nothing makes me happier.  He is still my hero and favorite player to ever play the game and I am happy to see him back. 

Whether he misses the playoffs or gets the Vikings their first Super Bowl, nothing will replace what he did for the Packers and their fans.  We thank you Brett, and wish you the best of luck in the future.