Brett Favre’s love affair with Vikings fans would appear to be over.
Few things brought more joy to Vikings fans than to see Favre wearing purple – to the horror of Packers fans. For the Green Bay faithful, it was a blow from which it was hard to recover. Given the Vikings’ dominance in 2009, it wasn’t a hard pill to swallow, it was a hard hub cap to swallow for Packers fans.
However, while Vikings fans relished in having the face of the Packers franchise leading them on a deep playoff run, it should have been known to most that Green Bay and No. 4 would kiss and make up eventually.
It has taken time. Both sides were bitter. Favre felt pushed aside for a younger model (Aaron Rodgers) – a decision nobody in Green Bay has regretted. The Packers wanted to make sure what happened with the Vikings wouldn’t take place – trading Favre out of the NFC to the New York Jets and putting a caveat in the trade that if New York traded Favre to the Vikings, the compensation would be two first-round picks. When the Jets made the foolhardy mistake of trading up in order to get USC QB Mark Sanchez, they gave Favre his release and opened the door for him to sign with the Vikings.
Considering that Favre last played in 2010, it seems apparent that the wounds were a little deeper than just a guy changing teams. The anger and the hurt went to the heart and core of all sides – Favre, the Packers front office and the fan base.
The reconciliation process seemed inevitable, but has been three years-and-counting in the making. There have been incremental steps. Packers boss man Ted Thompson has opened the door. Rodgers has officially signed off and said he welcomes Favre coming back to the Packers family. This week, Favre extended the olive branch that might get the story completed – with a happy ending.
In an interview this week with WGR-AM 550 Radio in Buffalo, Favre refused to take full responsibility for the current separation of legend and franchise, but made the admission, “I was at fault.” Whether he believes that may be another story entirely, but he got it out there – even if it wasn’t on a Wisconsin radio station. Who makes admissions on an upstate New York station? Brett, apparently.
When the whole story comes out, it will say that the Packers wanted to push Favre out. He had set just about every record there was to set and they wanted Rodgers to get his shot for the next decade or more. It was a business decision, much like Mafia killings are nothing personal, just business. When Favre held his tearful retirement press conference, his heart wasn’t in it. The Packers had offered to buy him off for $20 million to make golf tournament appearances and maybe a few autograph sessions and smiles and waves at halftime of prime time games. It’s a pretty good gig if you can get it.
But what the Packers didn’t take into account was the itch that Favre gets in July that had him coming back for another run at a Super Bowl. His love for football is as strong as any player who ever played the game. When he informed the Packers he was coming back, the fans were giddy. It wasn’t like the Beatles landing at Idlewild Airport, but it wasn’t far off. Thousands of Packers fans greeted him and his wife and it was clear that, after months of getting the rest of the Packers roster to put their faith in Rodgers, Favre was going to be a wrench in those plans. It couldn’t happen. It didn’t. He was sent packing to the Jets and the rest became history.
While Favre publicly denied that he came to the Vikings to “stick it” to the Packers, few believe that to be true. He was unceremoniously pushed aside, and when he didn’t take it the way the Packers wanted, he wanted revenge. The 2009 season is still an open wound for the Packers because Favre “stuck it” to them like few others ever have. Fans actually hated him. Signs in the stands comparing him to Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, spoke to the depth of some of that anger.
It would seem that the wounds have scabbed over and, much like stitch marks, have started to fade and look more like normal skin. Enough time has passed that both the Packers and Favre can say “I love you” and reconcile. It’s gone on long enough. It’s time to make the peace.
It would seem fitting that the Packers retire Favre’s No. 4 when the Packers play the Vikings Nov. 24 at Lambeau Field. It will be the Sunday before Thanksgiving, typically when The Wizard of Oz would make its annual network TV broadcast and remind generations that there was no place like home.
Whether things can progress quickly enough in the détente that the Packers and Favre continue toward complete reconciliation this year is still up in the air. It was a messy split between the two that only got worse when Favre came to Minnesota. Now enough time has passed for both to remember the good times along the way and not how things ended. Will Favre’s olive branch extension will be accepted by the Packers and he can take his rightful place among the Packers legends that echo through the hallowed ground of Lambeau?
Vikings fans won’t forget the joy of seeing Packers fans suffer, but we all knew this day would come eventually. It’s been three years. It’s been long enough.
Former Vikings head coach Mike Tice had a relatively brutal relationship with QB Jay Cutler last year, as Bears players discussed the problems during the Bears’ minicamp this week. Fans may remember the sight of Cutler simply walking from Tice during a prime time game against Dallas early in the season. While both Tice and Cutler tried to downplay the incident as being a “heat of the moment” thing, the players who survived the coaching change after the season said that backup QB Josh McCown served as a liaison between the two for most of the season, relaying Tice’s assessment to Cutler without the two speaking. Tice and Cutler have both continued their habit of putting the “fun” in dysfunctional.
The website ProFootballTalk.com is conducting one of the standard lengthy offseason series of stories that fill the dog days of the offseason before fans’ necks swell as part of the late-July rut that marks the opening of training camp. Currently on the website, the PFT gang is asking for fans to vote on the Mount Rushmore of the Chicago Bears, which may end up including Vikings assistant coach Mike Singletary. While 12 names are up for inclusion (11 if you discount Dan Hampton as we have because it seems appropriate he was listed as Dam Hampton), there are eight legitimate candidates – Dick Butkus, Mike Ditka, Red Grange, George Halas, Bronko Nagurski, Walter Payton, Gale Sayers and Singletary. The early betting line has Halas, Payton, Ditka and Butkus getting etched into the mountain.
On Monday, PFT will announce the Vikings Mount Rushmore of four. The choices are Cris Carter, Chris Doleman, Carl Eller, Bud Grant, Paul Krause, Jim Marshall, Randy Moss, Alan Page, Adrian Peterson, John Randle, Fran Tarkenton and Ron Yary. Looking at that list, a case can be made for just about everyone – nine of the 12 are Hall of Famers, Marshall should be and Moss and Peterson will be.
The league handed down a couple of suspensions Friday, putting Josh Gordon on the shelf for two games (which will make him available for Cleveland’s Week 3 meeting with the Vikings) and St. Louis running back Isaiah Pead for one game – both for violations of the league’s substance abuse policy. Gordon claims his positive test was the result of codeine in a strep throat medication, while Pead was arrested last July for marijuana possession. The case was going through the court system during the 2012 season so it will be instituted for Week 1 of the 2013 season. Given how little use Pead got with the Rams last year, he and the team would have been better off having the league hammer fall last year.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.