He enjoyed legendary status in Title Town, becoming the NFL’s all-time leading passer while winning three MVP awards and a Super Bowl. He was often cheered loudly at Lambeau Field, but this time he’ll be playing for the rival Minnesota Vikings, and likely won’t receive the same warm reception.
A mix of both cheers and boos is what Favre should expect as he takes the field for the first time as a visitor in Green Bay on Sunday as he tries to help the Vikings bounce back from their first loss and take a commanding lead in the NFC North.
A second-round pick by Atlanta in 1991, Favre was traded to Green Bay in 1992. He made his Packers debut later that year and eventually led the club to seven division titles, 11 playoff appearances and 13 winning seasons while starting 255 straight games. He set NFL records with 61,655 passing yards and 442 touchdowns and will one day be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
Favre contemplated retirement for most of this decade, finally doing so shortly after Green Bay’s 23-20 overtime loss to the New York Giants in the NFC championship game on Jan. 20, 2008.
A few months after Favre’s tearful goodbye news conference in March of that year, the Packers traded him to the New York Jets when he tried to come back, only to learn Green Bay was committed to Aaron Rodgers(notes). Favre started strong in New York, but the team lost four of its final five games to finish 9-7 and miss the playoffs, leading to his second retirement.
The Jets released Favre after the draft and he spent the summer working out before signing with Minnesota (6-1) in August.
Joining perhaps the Packers’ most bitter rival has not gone over well in Green Bay and despite just one losing season in his tenure with the club, Favre could receive an unruly greeting from the faithful who once adored him.
“I don’t think it’ll be as bad,” Favre said, “but I don’t know that.
“If you’re a true fan, you’re a true fan. The people that have jumped ship or whatever completely, what can I do? … There was always Brett Favre haters out there, and that will never change.”
Favre is downplaying any anxiety about returning to Lambeau, and insists he’s more concerned about the division race.
Favre is excelling with the first-place Vikings - passing for 1,681 yards, 12 touchdowns and just three interceptions - yet another reason Packers fans are a little irked.
The 40-year-old led Minnesota to six straight wins, including a 30-23 home victory over Green Bay (4-2) on Oct. 5. He was unable to extend that streak as the Vikings fell 27-17 at Pittsburgh last Sunday.
Minnesota outgained the Steelers 386-259 and held the ball for nearly 37 minutes yet still lost thanks to 11 penalties, two turnovers in the red zone that went for touchdowns and an inability to put the ball in the end zone from 1 yard out in the third quarter.
Favre was forced to attempt 50 passes as the Vikings struggled to get the ground game going with Adrian Peterson rushing for 69 yards on 18 carries.
Minnesota will have to be much sharper against a Packers defense that is starting to come together under new coordinator Dom Capers and his 3-4 scheme.
Favre completed 24 of 31 passes for 271 yards and three touchdowns against Green Bay in Week 4, but the Packers have yielded just 288 total yards and three points in winning two games since.
After defeating Detroit 26-0 on Oct. 18, Green Bay - which ranks third in total defense (284.8 yards per game) and fifth in scoring defense (16.0 points per game) - outgained Cleveland 460-139 in a 31-3 win last Sunday.
Although those victories have come against teams with a combined 2-11 record, they’ve helped boost the Packers’ confidence.
“It’s good to have two big wins,” linebacker Aaron Kampman(notes) said. “We haven’t done that back to back. Dominant performances on the defensive side of the ball. Obviously it’s going to help us going into a very large game, large stage again at Lambeau Field.”
While fans at Lambeau might have mixed feelings for Favre, they are all rallying behind Rodgers.
He threw for 246 yards and a season-high three touchdowns against the Browns, is second in the league with a 110.8 rating and has passed for 1,702 yards with 11 TDs and only two picks.
“He deserves everything that he accomplishes,” Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said. “He’s just doing a really good job of running the offense and I can’t say enough about that.”
Rodgers finally had some time in the pocket last week as the offensive line didn’t allow a sack after giving up a league-worst 25 through the first five games.
He likely won’t have the same protection this week, though.
The Vikings lead the league with 24 sacks and sacked Rodgers eight times with Jared Allen(notes) accumulating 4 1/2, a forced fumble and a safety in the first meeting. The pass rush will take on a greater importance in this game after Minnesota’s best cornerback—Antoine Winfield(notes)—was ruled out for this contest due to a foot injury.
The Packers, 2-1 at home this season, have won three straight and 12 of 15 over the Vikings in Green Bay.