Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is never one to mince words and when he talks, people listen – such was the case this past week when he stated on his ESPN Radio show that it’s time former quarterback Brett Favre, the Packers organization and their fans should forgive and move on.
Last week, Rodgers and Favre appeared together on stage at the NFL Honors program to announce the comeback player of the year award and it was Rodgers who was involved in helping make it happen.
“As the face of the franchise now,” Rodgers said, “[it's] a role that I take very seriously. I have the responsibility and enjoy having the opportunity to represent my team. I think it’s important to realize that it is probably time to move forward.”
That’s something that four years ago seemed like decades off. Favre retired from the Packers after the 2007 season and the Packers wasted no time in handing the keys to the Cadillac to Rodgers. The Packers had moved on. Then Favre wanted to come back and the Packers told him to get lost. They traded him to the New York Jets where he played for one season, got hurt, and retired again … but only temporarily.
Favre announced another comeback … this time with the hated Minnesota Vikings. It was clear that Favre wanted to stick it to his old team and in 2009, that’s what he did. Not only did Favre lead the Vikings to a North Division title, but he led them to two wins over Rodgers and the Packers. Packers fans were incensed, but were overjoyed when Favre threw a game-deciding interception in the NFC Championship – a game where Favre was brutalized by the New Orleans Saints and their bounty-driven defense.
Many felt that had the Viking and Favre won that game they would have easily beaten the Indianapolis Colts in the Super Bowl. But we’ll never know.
What was even more satisfying for Packers fans was that the Packers and Rodgers got revenge in big ways in 2010. Not only did the Packers beat the Vikings and Favre twice that year, but the Packers went on to win Super Bowl XLV and Rodgers earned a place in the pantheon of Packers quarterbacks … helping fans to completely forget Favre.
Well, maybe not completely.
There are many (myself included) who still love Brett Favre – we just don’t appreciate what he did to the Packers at the end of his career.
Like Rodgers, I count myself among those who fee that the Packers and Favre must forget about the indiscretions and honor what Favre did for and meant to the franchise. He was a Packer and always will be a Packer. It’s time to recognize that, give Favre his day and Lambeau Field and retire his #4.
What many didn’t know about their appearance together on stage is that Favre and Rodgers spent a great deal of time talking about how they would present themselves and though there were portions that seemed “awkward,” that was the joke they were attempting to portray … and they did it well.
“That was the joke,” Rodgers said, who said the plan was for the pair to start hugging but then back away and say, “Too soon?” That didn’t work out quite that way – but it was a good plan.
“Brett is two years removed from the game. He’s going to obviously be in the Packers Hall of Fame. He’ll get his number retired, and he’ll be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the next few years. It’s important, I think, to make sure that he’s recognized for all the accomplishments that he’s achieved in our organization especially. He’s still very dear to many of our fans for the things that he’s done for the Packers on the field. You can never take that away.
“As the face of the franchise, I felt like it was important that I took a leadership role in that. Not that one was needed now, but I thought it was good timing to just let the fans know, let Brett know, let’s move forward. Let’s heal things up and let’s move forward.”
I think Rodgers is playing a great middle man here. He is the face of the franchise (sorry, Donald Driver), and his legacy will be one that carry on for decades … as will Favre’s … They join Bart Starr as Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks who have had a tremendous amount of success in helping the franchise continue to be the standard bearer for the entire league.
Having Brett Favre back into the Packers family will go a long way in helping the whole of Packers Nation heal.
It’s time. I only hope the Packers brass feel the same.