Packers: Fairy-tale return for Brett Favre


It took a long time to get to this point. Brett Favre emerging from the tunnel at Lambeau Field in front of 67,000 screaming Green Bay Packers fans seemed like a fantasy less than a decade ago, after his acrimonious departure from the team following his aborted retirement in 2008.

But it’s been said that time heals all wounds and there are barely even scars visible now, seven years later, on the relationship between Favre, the Packers and Packer Nation. That was evident by the five-minute standing ovation given to Favre Saturday night as his jersey was retired and he was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame.

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Favre is the greatest Packer of them all, of this there is little doubt. Part of that is the legacy of the iron-man streak—once Favre seized the starting job from injured Don Majkowski in 1992, he started every game from then on until his trade to the New York Jets in the summer of 2008.

But the other part of that legacy is the one he shares with general manager Ron Wolf, the man who convinced the Packers’ Board of Directors that trading a first-round pick for the seldom-used rookie from the Atlanta Falcons would be a franchise-changing trade, and with Mike Holmgren, the coach who engineered the turnaround of the Packers in the 1990s.

It’s easy to forget just how bad the Packer franchise was perceived around the NFL in those dark days of the 1970s and 1980s.

But Favre helped change that.

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Saturday night was like a walk back into those glory days of the 1990s. Favre inspiring a crowd at Lambeau Field to chant “M-V-P,” Favre seizing the moment as he did so many times while wearing that No. 4 jersey that will be hung with those of legends Tony Canadeo, Don Hutson, Bart Starr, Ray Nitschke and Reggie White on Thanksgiving night.

During the lengthy standing ovation, Favre got choked up—something he said he didn’t expect to do leading up to induction night—and then told the fans:

“All I can say is wow. Wow. This is absolutely amazing. I don’t have the words to express the feeling coming out of that tunnel to this ovation. Thank you. Thank you so much. If there were any doubts before, there’s not any. I truly thank you. My youngest daughter Breleigh—the day the tickets went on sale, she came home from school and said 67,000 tickets were sold in an hour and a half. She said, ‘They must really like you.’”

Yeah, Brett, they do. We do. And you can bet Packer Nation will turn out in force next summer when Favre is inducted into a larger Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

It was a messy divorce in 2008. It was made more poignant when Favre returned in 2009 as a member of the Minnesota Vikings—the hated rivals to the west.

But Saturday night wasn’t about any of that. It was about remembering the wins—160 of them in the regular season and another 12, including Super Bowl XXXI, in the playoffs. It was about remembering the touchdowns, 442 of those.

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  • Hell, it was even about remembering the swashbuckling style that led to 286 interceptions—that all-out, balls-to-the-wall style that Favre exhibited throughout his career. He might win, he might lose, but by God it was going to be fun either way.

    I got my first up close looks at Favre early in his Packer tenure, as a reporter covering a divisional rival in Detroit. One of my colleagues there had covered Favre as a high-schooler in Mississippi and told me before I went to the Silverdome to see him for the first time that I was in for a treat.

    He got that right and it was a treat that kept on giving for the next couple of decades.

    It was a treat that came to a screaming crescendo on a hot Saturday night in July when the fans turned out en masse to remember Favre, the glory years and the fun.

    Love him or hate him, Brett Favre was a true original. And that, more than anything, is what made him so great.

    Next: Favre's 10 Most Memorable Games As A Packer

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