The Messy Break-Up Between Brett Favre and Packer Nation Continues to Get Worse

Peter BukowskiSenior Analyst IJuly 19, 2012

The relationship between Favre and the fanbase that supported him through nearly two decades continues to be strained
The relationship between Favre and the fanbase that supported him through nearly two decades continues to be strainedA. Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Honest question: is Brett Favre retired?

No, really.

Think about it.

If you pulled up the Bleacher Report homepage tomorrow and there was a headline, "Favre signs with Team X," would you be surprised?

If the answer is no, then, at least in the case of the Mississippi gunslinger, he's not truly retired.

I've been hesitant to write any kind of perspective piece on Favre for this reason, but given the fact that he can't seem to stay out of the limelight for more than four or five minutes, now seems like a good time. 

The man who brought the moniker "Titletown U.S.A." back to Green Bay has done everything he can to besmirch his legacy as one of the greatest players for one of the greatest franchises in sports. 

He was at it again on the NFL Network tonight, and since no media type worth his salt will let a Favre interview go without asking about Aaron Rodgers, we're back with these questions.

From a fan's perspective, this is nauseating.

It's like my former fiancee broke off our engagement, I moved on and am in a wonderful new relationship, but every time I see her, she insists on talking about my new girlfriend in backhanded compliments and forced cliches.

Favre, who is the author of just about every great sports memory of my childhood, still holds some of Cheesehead Nation in a choke hold of guilt and nostalgia.

But I'm over it.

I just want to say, "Look Brett, I'm happy with Aaron now."

I'll forgive Brett Favre for what he's done, despite the fact that he's been the worst kind of Packer-trader ever since he forced his way out of the NFL's smallest market.

It's not a wound that closes easily for Packer Nation because of what he meant to the franchise and what he meant to every fan.

When #4 left, it was harder than Peyton leaving Indianapolis or LeBron James leaving Cleveland. It's not even an argument worth having trying to compare them.

Favre had connected with the Packer fans on a level no athlete has ever connected on, and part of it had to do with how great Green Bay fans are and perhaps more of it had to do with the the person Brett Favre was and still is.

The man literally reduced me to tears the spring when he announced he wasn't sure he had the passion anymore.

I don't mean 'Oh Leonardo is frozen and the lifeboats are coming' tears (Wait, did I just admit to crying watching Titanic?) No, I was sobbing and heaving because the man who taught me how to love the game, the player who made me proud to be a quarterback, the man who played with a unique mix of joy and guile was looking at me with tears in his eyes saying he didn't have the passion anymore.

I didn't fault him for wanting to come back and play. I got it.

No one in the history of sports loved to play anything more than Brett Favre loved to play football. I couldn't possibly begrudge him the opportunity to play. I didn't even fault him for wanting to stick it to Ted Thompson, whose stubbornness, it seemed at the time, forced Brett to want to come back with the Vikings.

If Favre was going to come back, he was going to come back guns blazing at the man who done him wrong, just like the cowboy he is.

Why the diatribe? Catharsis for one, context another.

Favre may be a good old boy, and he's still the guy who picks up receivers and carries them around the field. But he's also a man whose been spoiled by the spotlight.

His family is famously in love with the media. Plenty of people suggested it was their influence that weighed heavily on Favre's decision to come back in the first place. A Brett Favre apologist (I know far too many) might say that none of this is Brett's fault.

He just wanted to play, and he was manipulated by media hungry friends and family. The problem is, Bonita Favre didn't raise no dummy.

This is the work of Favre. It has all the marking of a Favre game plan: "Who cares if there is triple coverage, I'm throwin' it 'cause I can fit it in."

And much more like the older Favre, the passes he's been throwing since he left Green Bay have been off the mark.

He threw a proverbial pick-6 with Packers fans. Wanting to play was one thing. I told you, I forgave him for that. Wanting to play for the Dome Queens is quite another thing in Wisconsin.

Furthermore, wanting to play with the express purpose of demolishing your former team is ground for a hanging. Look it up, it's in Green Bay law.

My sister said the best thing about Brett's decision this offseason, "Brett has played enough games in December at Lambeau to know what all that blaze orange means; Packer fans are gun owners. He's gonna get shot!"

In fact, the more I think about it, the more sense it makes. Everything I loved about Brett Favre drove him to the position he was in. He loved Green Bay. I truly believe that.

He loved the fans and he loved playing at Lambeau. Those weren't crocodile tears at the press conference in 2008 spring; he was truly heartbroken to be hanging it up.

But when he decided to come back (the second time that spring) and the Packers basically said "Sorry, we've moved on," Favre was jilted.

He was more than jilted; he was heartbroken, like I'd been watching him admit defeat in retirement.

The passion and fire that made him a great quarterback was driving his actions. Even if it was the best decision for the Packers to trade Favre instead of bring him back. Brett never saw it that way, and how could we expect him to?

From a fans perspective, what Favre has done seems unforgivable. In Green Bay, more than anywhere else, they're the ones writing checks for the players.

He owed it to the fans to think with more clarity about their reaction to his decision. I can't justify his actions, but for me, there is no justification. But I understand it now. Surely the media attention was planned.

He likes it.

Who wouldn't? That isn't a free-pass on that either.

This was a player who if you told him, "I bet you can't throw the ball through a tire on a moving pick up truck going 50 from across the highway" would have said, "Watch me."

The man who overcame addiction to pain killers and alcohol, not to mention unspeakable and untimely loss in his family.

A man who played and often lived with reckless abandon, hoping for the best, was always both dazzling and maddeningly disappointing. That was who we saw since Brett showed up on Fox News airing his dirty laundry for the word to see.

If anyone should have seen this kind of reckless, brazen, self-aggrandizement coupled with the, "Aww shucks," of a southern boy, it was Packer fans.

At this point, we're used to it.

Minnesota fans got a taste of it in his miraculous season with them, ending on his infamous interception in the NFC Championship game.

No one has had their collective hearts broken by Brett Favre more than Packer fans. His continued antics and obvious refusal to move on—while, of course, insisting that he has—are Brett Favre, through and through.

I take some solace in knowing that this team is set up for a long run with Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy. It's a relationship I feel good about.

And Brett Favre, the man who made every Sunday the most incredible adventure I've ever had in sports, and who ripped my heart out more times than I'd care to mention, hasn't let it go.

The thing everyone always hopes in a relationship is that they move on before their ex.

In this case, we've moved on. And I'd be lying if I said it wasn't sweet to know that No. 4 hasn't.


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