Before you run screaming into the streets, we should make clear that this headline is not meant to infer that Brett Favre is trying to un-retire again. No, it's simply that after years of bad feelings and unnecessary drama, the Green Bay Packers are ready to make nice with Brett Favre in an official way.
During the team's recent Tailgate Tour, an opportunity for fans to interact with players in an informal setting, Packers president Mark Murphy said that it's time to welcome Favre back into the fold as one of the team's all-time great players.
“I think each year it’s lessened a little bit,” Murphy said on Tuesday about the questions regarding Favre. “My first year was 2008, so we actually thought we might see Brett along the tour.”
Of course (and we'll keep this summary mercifully short), 2008 was Favre's first year away from Green Bay since 1992, when then-general manager Ron Wolf traded a first-round pick to the Atlanta Falcons that February for his future quarterback. Safe to say, that was a fairly one-sided deal. Favre threw for 61,655 yards and 442 touchdowns in 16 seasons for the Pack, but he was traded to the New York Jets in August, 2008 -- a few months after he retired, unretired, asked current general manager Ted Thompson to return to the team, and was rebuffed. After one iffy year with the Jets, Favre played two more seasons with the Minnesota Vikings -- a brilliant one in 2009, and an injury-plagued finale in 2010, before he finally hung 'em up for good in 2011.
There were bad feelings on both sides, and between Favre and successor Aaron Rodgers for a time, but the appearance by Favre and Rodgers on stage together at the 2013 NFL Honors show during Super Bowl week seemed to indicate that there had been some patching up along the way. Their dialogue in the show was pretty funny:
Rodgers: We’re here to present the award for best comeback player.
Favre: You know Aaron, everyone loves it when a great player makes a comeback.
Rodgers: (smirking) Yeah, well, not always. Some people wish great players would just retire and stay retired.
Favre: Good to see you, too, Aaron.
Rodgers: You too, man.
(Handshake, followed by awkward, possibly scripted quasi-hug)
Rodgers: That was awkward.
Peyton Manning, who won that award, riffed right off the Favre-Rodgers meeting. "What a tremendous honor to receive this award from two of the best quarterbacks of all-time, Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers," Manning said. "It sure is great to see the two of them up here together. It’s great for football. I feel pretty confident me and Andrew Luck will be up here one day presenting this award together."
"I thought it was good timing to just let the fans know, to let Brett know, let's move forward," Rodgers said of that appearance. "Let's heal things up and move forward."
Favre had caught some flak for wondering why it took so long for Rodgers to grab a Lombardi Trophy, which he did at the end of the 2010 season when the Packers won Super Bowl XLV.
“I’m going to be honest, I was not surprised," Favre told a Atlanta radio station in October, 2011. "The biggest surprise to me would be that he didn’t do it sooner ... And I’d like to think that he watched, he learned, and then when he got a chance to play, he brought in his ability which is obviously very good or they wouldn’t have drafted him in the first round. He’s got tremendous talent, he’s very bright and he got a chance to watch and see successful teams do it right. And so he just kind of fell into a good situation. On top of that, he’s a good player. I don’t think anyone would question now the talent around him is even better."
Rodgers, who was selected by Green Bay in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft and had to sit behind Favre for three years before he could establish himself as perhaps the league's best quarterback, reflected in 2011 about his relationship with Favre.
"I thought we were [close], I really did," Rodgers told ESPN in 2011. "You know, the first year was a tough year. I'm sure there were some feelings of frustration that they picked his potential successor in the first found. But then in '06 and '07 I thought our relationship really got strong, and he realized that I was in his corner ... I was the guy caught in the middle of the struggle, and it was out of my control."
Murphy first became specific about a Favre jersey retirement ceremony and other celebrations at the owner's meetings in March, saying that “I don’t know the timing of it ... certainly I don’t want to put a deadline on it, but it’s going to happen. It’s got to be sitting down – the organization, whether it’s myself or others, sitting down with him and working on the timing on it.”
Murphy said during the 2012 Tailgate tour that the time to retire Favre's number would be when it was "meaningful to Brett." Now, he'd like to see Favre on next year's Tailgate Tour.
“I envision someday he’ll be on this with us.”