The talk on ESPN today was the state of fans in Green Bay when Brett Favre is announced as the opposing starting quarterback this weekend. Will they boo him? Will they cheer him? What will the split be? 80/20?
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Sports Editor Gary Howard wrote a great piece imploring Packer fans to cheer for the man who has done so much for the NFL's proudest franchise.
Former Packer, and close friend of Favre, Leroy Butler insisted Packer fans ought to boo him mercilessly. He also wrote in the Journal Sentinel, "if you’re going to stand up wearing Packer clothing or a Packer uniform and cheer when Brett Favre comes out, you should bring a bag and put it over your head."
Expect to hear cheers and jeers Sunday when No. 4 takes the field for the first time.
I can't imagine Brad Childress is dumb enough to introduce his offense in starting line-ups to give Cheeseheads a specific opportunity to boo Favre. Then again, I just started a sentence with, "I can't imagine Brad Childress is dumb enough to X." Famous last words.
I know how I think Packer fans ought to react. Much like LeRoy Butler, I believe if you are a fan of the Packers you are a Packers fan first and a Favre fan second. Ultimately, Favre plays for a division rival and his departure from Green Bay was less than amicable no matter what you believe happened between Favre and Ted Thompson.
That means you boo, hiss, yell obscene things about his mother (unless you're in a family section), and you wave your Bredidict Favrold signs because No. 4 plays for Minnesota. That means he's going to bust his butt to beat the Packers.
It doesn't matter what you believe about how he left Green Bay. Whether he was kicked out the door, or whether he wanted out, none of that matters. He left.
He could have come back after retiring in New York, signed a one day contract in Green Bay, and officially retired as a Green Bay Packer. He will go into the Hall of Fame as a Packer, and that does deserve a certain amount of deference and respect.
So, maybe the obscene mom comments should be kept for Jared Allen or Bernard Berrian.
His three MVPs, Super Bowl trophy, gazillion passing yards, and almost two decades of Green and Gold memories don't matter when he takes the field wearing purple and yellow.
Howard points out that the feelings angry Packer fans have are simply "the passion that burns for the Green and Gold, not your true feelings about a player that some of you even named your sons after." And he's half right.
The animosity towards Favre is based on unbridled enthusiasm for their team, but only because Favre broke their collective hearts when he bolted for Minneapolis. Trading Green and Gold for Viking horns and purple effectively ruptured the relationship connecting fans to Favre.
It is not THAT Favre is coming back, it's who he's bringing with him that makes Packer fans potentially booing so justified.
And I'll prove it.
If you're a Packer fan and Brett Favre comes back last year in a Jets uniform do you boo him? Absolutely not. He'd have come out to raucous applause and signs about how Brett will always be a Packer and all sorts of other nonsense.
But not when he comes out with those annoying horns blowing and Jared Allen running around like a drunken maniac rocking the colors of your most hated rival.
Brett Favre wants to beat Green Bay more than anything else he could possibly do this season. How could you possibly cheer for a man who stated explicitly part of coming back was to show the Packers he could still play, specifically by beating them?
As a fan, that is treason.
Gary Howard is a tremendous writer, one of the most respected in the Midwest, and he has been a trailblazer for African-American journalists. But that doesn't mean he can't be wrong.
Brett Favre deserves to have his jersey retired in Green Bay to a standing ovation and tears. He ought to have unified support from fans when he gets his bronze bust in Canton as well as anytime he comes back to Lambeau in his famous Wrangler jeans.
Just as long as he doesn't have that Viking purple on too.
You can love Favre, but if you love football and you love the Packers, you have to boo him, at least until he retires for good.