Eventually, there will be a day when we barely remember that Brett Favre played for the Jets, with his time in New York summarized by little more than a few awkward pictures. His days as a Viking may fade a bit too, but they could linger a little longer since he was potentially one crippling, and so very Favre-ish interception away from going to the Super Bowl with Minnesota. There was also that bit in Minnesota about him struggling to go away, but that Favre was in Green Bay too.
This is the part where I wistfully talk about the passion of Packers fans, as if I somehow understand it. I don’t, and I don’t think you do either. Unless, of course, you’ve been to Lambeau Field, or have experienced Green Bay on a Sunday in the fall and winter. Once you’ve done that, you’ll understand why the wound left by Favre’s departure when he retired only to eventually play for the Packers’ rival still aches for some, and why as we learned yesterday efforts to ease that pain are progressing, but still moving slowly.
Mike Holmgren is getting inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame later this month, and Bob Harlan, the former Packers president, reached out to Favre through his agent Bus Cook, hoping the Packers legend would attend his former head coach’s ceremony. The goal of the invitation was a clear one: to begin a healing process that simply has to happen, and soon.
Unfortunately, it’s not happening on that July 21st night. Harlan told ESPN Milwaukee’s Jason Wilde that he doubts Favre will be present during the ceremony for Holmgren.
The time just isn’t quite right yet. It’s been four years since Favre left, and it’s still too soon.
Harlan told Wilde that there’s another more important goal behind his invitation too: for Favre to be honored by the Packers before he’s honored by the NFL. The clock is ticking, because Favre’s eligible to be enshrined in Canton in 2016, and he’ll almost surely be a first ballot hall of famer.
“He’s got to come back someday and have his number retired. He’s going to go into the Packers Hall of Fame; I think he should go into the Packers Hall of Fame before he goes into Canton,” Harlan said.
“I met with he and (his wife) Deanna the day they announced their retirement (in March 2008), and you could tell it was a very, very difficult day for him. I know he broke down and cried at his press conference, but in a short meeting I had with him before that conference – and basically all I wanted to do was thank him for all he did for this community and this organization – he was extremely tense and seemed very tired. And I thought Deanna, his wife, seemed the same way. And I think it was, he just could not face the reality that this was coming to an end. I felt badly about that since that day.
“I just have great respect for him, and somehow, some way, he’s got to come back here.”
Favre was a god-like figure in Green bay for 16 years, leading the Packers to a championship while throwing for 61,655 yards. The wound among the faithful cheeseheads who line up 1,200 deep to clean the snow from Lambeau Field in the bitter Wisconsin winter is a result of both Favre’s years in Minnesota, and his constant thirst for attention and toying with retirement.
I’ve tried unsuccessfully to refrain from writing poetically about Favre’s time in Green Bay and the ire he’s created now, because again, I’m not an expert on the matter. So I talked to someone who is.
Monty McMahon is the editor of Total Packers, and he thinks that for some the healing process is already well underway, while others still need time. We’ve only had one year of NFL football without Favre, and McMahon thinks a few more will need to pass before Green Bay is ready for a ceremony of any kind.
He’ll have to be forgiven and some people already have forgiven him or just chosen to overlook the last few years of his career. It’s still too soon in my opinion. The guy hasn’t really done anything to ingratiate himself to fans or the organization since retiring.
He needs to put forth a little more effort. The Hall of Fame is run independently of the Packers and they’re excited to try to bridge that gap, which is understandable. I’d say give it another year or two and all will be well.
The Packers have shown that they want Favre to return and be part of their legacy, and be remembered by their community. The next step, it seems, is for Favre to reciprocate those feelings.