It was not always that way. From 1970 through 1994, the Packers won just one division title and made the playoffs twice, with a 1-2 record. Minnesota owned the NFC Central, winning 12 of the 24 division titles (there was no official champion in the strike-shortened 1982 season) and four conference championships.
Even though they never did win it all, none of their division opponents made them look bad.
The Chicago Bears had a run of five division titles in six years, but got just one championship and returned to their status as division also-ran. The Detroit Lions and Tampa Bay Buccaneers won only two division titles each and could not win more than one playoff game.
Meanwhile, the former alpha dog of the NFC Central had fallen from grace hard. From 1973-1992, the Packers had only one season with more than eight wins. Other teams would motivate their players by threatening to send them to the frozen tundra as though it were Siberia.
But during the last season of that run, things began to change. Ron Wolf had taken over the Packers front office, hired Mike Holmgren to coach the team, and traded for Brett Lorenzo Favre to be the future franchise quarterback.
He won three consecutive MVPs from 1995-1997, leading the Packers to three division titles, two conference championships and a Super Bowl title. When Minnesota could not win in the playoffs (4-8 from 1992-2000, with four home losses including their 15-1 season), the only solace they could get is beating the Packers (11-7 over that span).
When the NFL realigned and the division became the NFC North, the Packers rattled off four of the first six division titles. Favre's retirement at the end of 2007 was welcome news for Minnesota, and the Packers not wanting him back even greater news.
You can see why they wanted to go hard after the quarterback who was more symbolic of their secondary status over the past 13 years than any other single individual. It took them two seasons, but they finally got their man.
Except all it got them was one division title and two wins over their rivals. Plus a whole lot of headaches, starting with blowing a potential championship on a costly Favre interception. Minnesota lost coaches, players, organizational integrity, future success and may lose the franchise entirely.
If their new franchise quarterback can lead them to an upset win in Green Bay Monday night, they can at least go 3-3 against the Packers since bringing Favre in and save a little embarrassment. That is why this matchup will always be about Favre until Minnesota is a championship team.
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