The time has come.
We have reached the point in time when wounds have healed and the Green Bay Packers should welcome the Ol’ Gunslinger back to Titletown.
There have been baby steps taken to begin this process. Rodgers and Favre appearing at the NFL awards show together. Rodgers indicating that he feels it’s time to welcome Brett back and retire the number 4. Favre recently admitting (for the first time) his culpability in the circus that was his attempt to force his way back to the Packers. Mark Murphy stating that he hoped Favre would one day go along on the Packers annual Tailgate Tour. And most recently, Brett’s glowing praise of Aaron Rodgers, and admitting that while his time in purple was great, it only made him appreciate how much better being a Packer was (okay, I paraphrased that, but I’m pretty sure that’s what Brett meant).
However, there seems to be some trepidation on both sides, Favre and the Packers, about the ceremony and about when would be the appropriate time to bring this all to a close. Some of this anxiousness stems from the worry that some fans may not be over the breakup and still harbor significant ill will toward Brett. The fear exists this ill will will (heh) lead fans who still have their long john’s in a bundle* to booing and other generally disrespectful behavior during the number retirement and recognition ceremony.
I’ve spent some time thinking about how to address these concerns and, yet, still move on with the ceremony quickly. I will even go so far as to say that it should happen this season, and it should happen this season on the afternoon of Sunday, November 24th. That is when the Green Bay Packers host the Minnesota Vikings.
Picture this scene:
The air is brisk with a gentle breeze, but the sun is shining without a cloud in the sky. Both teams finish up warmups…and the terrible music playing fades out. The players jog to their respective sidelines. This is the moment. This is when the legendary Brett Favre will be welcomed back to Green Bay and have his number retired along with Tony Canadeo, Don Hutson, Bart Starr, Ray Nitschke, and Reggie White. This is when the circus that started in 2008 will be concluded. The Big Top taken down. Wounds will be healed, and hands will be shaken. Backs will be slapped, and stories will be told.
The PA announcer lists some of the legendary quarterback's notable accomplishments and concludes his introduction: “…ladies and gentlemen, number 4, Brett Lorenzo Favre.” The Lambeau crowd roars, only a tiny smattering of boos from the grudge holders, but they are drowned out by the cheers and adulation. The man walks out from the tunnel…and the cheers quickly die. They are replaced with stunned silence. Jaws drop. Brett Favre has just walked onto Lambeau Field and is wearing a suit…and a Vikings’ cap. This wasn’t how it was supposed to happen. How could he do this again?
A small woman, gray haired and frail, wearing a green and gold scarf and matching mittens and hat, screams, in a voice that seems much louder than she should be able to muster, “BOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” The crowd joins and there is nothing to be heard but the boos of thousands of angry, and hurt, Packer fans. Favre continues walking and heads in the direction of the Vikings’ bench. When he is about halfway there, Jared Allen, Adrian Peterson, and, of course, Greg Jennings walk towards Favre to greet him, and presumably welcome him to eternal purple mediocrity. The camera zooms in on Favre, and the fans stare at the huge screens. A small girl sobs. Her dad says, "Jesus, he’s going to hug them and stay a Viking."
The group of Vikings are about 5 yards from Brett, and Greg Jennings extends his hand. Favre stops, and that ol’ “he’s just havin’ fun out there” smile creeps across his grizzled and gray face. The smile on Jennings’ face wavers. Favre slowly raises his right arm his pointer finger extended. The crowd once again goes silent. Favre begins laughing. He starts shaking his head and wagging his finger in the direction of the Vikings. He steps back, turns, and slowly takes in the entirety of Lambeau Field. He brings his hands up to his chest….
Lambeau Field erupts as Favre sprints around the field. His green number 4 jersey back where it belongs. A fitting way to end the circus.
He’s come back.
*If he still bothers you, you need to let it go. Really. It's done.