"What Have You Done for Me Lately, Brett?"
For the first time in my life, I am embarrassed to be a Green Bay Packers fan. My shame has nothing to do with wins or losses; no, this chagrin stems from the behavior of my fellow Packer fans—supposedly the greatest fans on the planet.
I understand and respect "team loyalty," but the Packers fans who burned Brett Favre’s jerseys and relentlessly booed him the other night at Lambeau Field, need to take a long, hard look at themselves.
What did these “fans” really want? Would they have been happy with a career-ending injury to Brett? I wonder how they would have felt if Brett were carted off the field on a stretcher wearing a neck brace, unable to move any of his extremities. Would they have felt good about themselves, then?
Now, when a guy leaves over a contract dispute, it usually warrants some disapproval from the former team’s fans. What the Packers faithful need to keep in mind is that Brett Favre did not leave Green Bay as a hold out, demanding more money. Yes, Brett waffled over the years, but with numerous coaching changes, veteran players who were let go (particularly from his offensive line), and with a myriad of empty promises by TT to bring in some other veteran leadership, Brett felt alienated.
A few more veteran players would have provided skill, leadership, and great overall locker room chemistry. It would have taken much of the burden off of Brett’s back. When Brett led the Pack to a 13-3 season and the NFC Championship game, the Packers were the youngest team in the NFL. They also were among the league leaders in salary cap room. Just think what a few more veterans could have done for us.
I contend that most anyone would contemplate taking a job elsewhere (or retire if he/she has millions in the bank) under polarizing conditions. Green Bay was obviously "headed in a different direction" and a 38-year-old quarterback has no place with any NFL team's "youth movement.” Unfortunately for Brett, he is in the public eye, and he is constantly questioned by the media. His private thought processes are made audible to all.
The only thing that Brett wanted was to win and to win now in Green Bay! As a leader and as a great teammate, he couldn’t just blurt what was on his mind. He couldn’t publicly specify that the team needed a better defense, a better offensive line, or a better running game. It would completely detract from his leadership qualities if he pointed fingers, “calling out” his team’s weak spots. Personally, I can’t fault Brett for “waffling” under these conditions. Any one would ponder his/her future with an organization under similar circumstances.
Before my fellow Packers fans decide to malign Brett again, they should keep in mind that he never missed a game for us, he played through all kinds of injuries, illnesses, and family tragedies, which included his wife's breast cancer and his father's death. He allowed us to take these highly personal, gut-wrenching journeys with him, and because of it, we have learned more about life from him.
He has also set up charities within the community (which still exist), and he has done tremendous things with the "Make-a-Wish Foundation," in particular. He simply gave us everything that he had and now that management has moved in a different direction (which started long before his “waffling” and eventual retirement ever did), we seem to have turned on him far more than he has deserved.
The fans of Green Bay need to remember that without Brett's three MVP's and the Packer's Super Bowl runs in the late 90's, there would have been no 53 percent to 47 percent Brown County vote to renovate Lambeau Field. This more than likely means that the GREEN BAY Packers would no longer be the GREEN BAY Packers. Can you image what Green Bay’s economy would be like without the Pack, Lambeau Field, and the atrium?
Over the past year and a half, my emotions and feelings have been put through the wringer, too, but after seeing how Brett Favre has handled himself in the press (which has unfairly vilified him, by the way), and after seeing how my fellow Packers fans have behaved, I am steadfastly becoming more "Pro-Favre" than I am "Pro-Packers."
We subtly but surely forced him out. And when his year ended with the Jets, we never called him. Minnesota, on the other hand, called and called, and called again. We didn’t want him - they did. It was a perfect situation for Brett.
"Good for him," I say. And as far as his playing for Minnesota is concerned, the color of his uniform shouldn’t necessarily promote hatred. I prefer to root for my team and still respect the man wearing the enemy’s colors, assuming he deserves it. Brett Favre (although not perfect) has matured into an outstanding person; hatred should not be in the equation.
To conclude, what I saw and heard on TV the other night at Lambeau Field went way overboard. Sure, I expected some heckles and some hoots during the introductions, but I was ashamed by the overwhelming chorus of boos every time Favre stood over center. Yes, emotions were running high, but booing the guy who rebuilt your stadium and saved the franchise from 25-plus years of mediocrity is plain inexcusable!
Hopefully, we can right this ship someday when Brett finally does retire for good. But until then, the city of Green Bay needs to take a good look in the mirror and ask, "Who has betrayed whom?” Brett has taken a beating for his small part in this ugly split. He has every right to set the record straight, but he has moved on, refusing to rehash everything.
I would advise the Packers fans to take this high road, too. No matter what happens in Minnesota or elsewhere, Brett Favre deserves to be accepted by the franchise that he helped re-establish. Brett Favre simply deserves our respect, not our scorn!
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