These are the fans that brave sub-freezing conditions to keep Lambeau field’s mind-boggling consecutive sell-out streak at over 250 regular season games, a streak that started in 1960 and doesn’t include games that were played in Milwaukee before that.
These are the fans that have over 74,000 names on the waiting list in the hopes of one day securing season tickets.
The fans who were recently awarded tickets first put their name in the hat in the mid-1970s.
These are the fans that sold out all those games in spite of having only FIVE winning seasons between 1968 and 1991. But then came 1992.
This was the year that the Packer’s acquired Brett Favre from the Atlanta Falcons for a first-round pick. This was the year Favre replaced Don Majkowski (a.k.a. Aaron Rodgers, the can’t-miss kid) and promptly won the Packers their first game of the season, starting an INSANE streak of 271 consecutive starts for the club. He’s never missed a game.
He brought his fiery best to each one of those starts, even becoming addicted to painkillers just so he could trot out onto the field for the adoring Green Bay faithful.
Over the next 15 seasons, the Packers had 13 winning seasons (and one .500 season), or roughly three times as many as they had been privy to during nearly a quarter century of futility prior to Favre’s arrival.
For all the talk of Green Bay’s titles, only three have come in the Super Bowl era, and the first two were from times when the AFL and NFL were separate leagues.
You think Matt Millen’s drafting of Mike Williams was a fiasco? Try drafting Tony Mandarich when Barry Sanders, Deion Sanders, and Derrick Thomas were still on the board.
Favre brought respectability back to Green Bay at a time when the franchise was teetering on the brink. He brought the playoffs, the NFC championship, the Super Bowl title, the MVP, the Sports Illustrated covers, the reemergence of a sports tradition, and the notoriety of a forgotten, backwoods, small-market team.
Brett Favre brought Green Bay respect.
One would think that he deserves a little respect in return.
Apparently, not in Green Bay.
The pressure started building during the disastrous 2005 season when Green Bay went 4-12, and Favre suffered his worst season as a pro. Despite throwing for over 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns, Green Bay fans were quick to point out his league-worst 29 interceptions, and gave him little slack for losing half his offensive line, having no running game, and throwing to receivers who consistently ran the wrong routes.
No quarterback can play on an island, and Favre was definitely the only man worth a damn on that team. Add to this the turmoil of Hurricane Katrina and the leveling of his family’s Mississippi home, and it is no wonder that Favre had a down year.
Though you can pin many of those interceptions on him, you can’t pin the losses. That team was terrible, but the calls for newly drafted and unproven quarterback Aaron Rodgers became rallying cries as if everyone had forgotten sense, reason, or any semblance of loyalty.
The next year, the team got better, as young, inexperienced players started to step up and the offensive line improved, but the options were still limited. Favre again had a sub-par year, throwing 18 touchdowns, but a more reasonable 18 interceptions. The rumblings for Rodgers were becoming a roar.
Then, 2007 happened.
Acute free-agent moves and the maturation of a young core presented Favre with a legitimate team once again, and his numbers were insane. He posted one of the best quarterback ratings of his career and threw for over 4,000 yards, pitching 28 TDs versus only 15 interceptions.
One would think that this might validate the notion that Favre was still a great quarterback, and that given something to work with, he could still lead the team to the promise land.
Instead, many blamed his last fateful interception vs. the eventual Super Bowl winner, the Giants, as the sole reason why Green Bay had fallen short, ignoring the fact the it was Favre, more than anyone, who was responsible for getting them there.
At this point, Favre had stated that he still wanted to play for the Packers in 2008.
But the rumblings became the howl of spoiled children. Favre felt like he wasn’t wanted in Green Bay. Management hinted that they wanted to go in different directions.
NO ONE returned his phone calls.
Hurt and a bit hasty, Favre retired.
But now he’s hinting that he might want another shot. He’s a ballplayer, the best kind of ballplayer, and he wants to play ball. You would think he at least deserves the benefit of the doubt.
Don’t you remember, Green Bay fans, that players like Favre might only come around once in a generation, if at all? Don’t you remember, Green Bay fans, how dismal the losing can be?
Don’t you remember, Green Bay fans, that your town is all about community and family and loyalty? Or has it always just been about beer and brats with you people?
If Favre, the guy who has lifted you up on his back for the last 15 years, let you drink at the cup of glory, and allowed a denuded football nation a shot at legitimacy, wants to come back, then you should welcome him with open arms.
He’s better than Rodgers. Period. What point is there in building for the future when the best shot at the now is here? He’s been here. And he wants to stay.
If not, then I hope he goes to the Vikings because you don’t deserve him. And on THAT team, with a solid O-line and a running prodigy on his side, you might just see how good he really is. You might just appreciate this man who you once claimed to love.
As he wipes you up on opening day.