Analysis: Packers, Favre, genuinely bury the hatchet

CREATED May 18, 2012

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GREEN BAY - According to  a tweet from our Journal Sentinel friend and colleague Lori Nickel, Packers President Mark Murphy said the team wants "to retire Favre's number in a year or two when it is meaningful to (Favre)."

With one tweet that came from a legitimate piece of news, 140 characters has led to the the popping of the old can of worms, anything that has to do with Brett Favre, the Packers and their shared antipathy.

To me, it's time to at least consider how the Packers and their record-breaking quarterback of 16 years can finally bury the hatchet and return to the lovefest that was and, in my mind, still should someday be.

What must be considered is how to do it genuinely, the right way, so that it's truly a restored marriage and not just a business deal to throw up No. 4 next to No's 3, 14, 15, 66 and 92 on the Packers version of a Ring of Honor.

Such a discussion as this, as has been anything about these two sides the past four-plus years, seemed preposterous when Favre won three MVP's and co-led the Packers to a win in Super Bowl XXXI, and even in the 2007 playoff run that fell three points short on a five-below-zero day in Green Bay.

But what we didn't completely understand was the level of anger and resentment growing on both sides of this not-so-happy fest.

There was Brett Favre vs. Ted Thompson in a perceived battle for power and control.  

There was the reported preferential treatment Favre received in the latter part of his career.

There was the "will I play, won't I play?" public waffling  and the eventual retirement and unretirement that I'm convinced was Favre's machiavellian ploy to get out of Green Bay, a ploy that almost completely worked until the Packers traded him to the Jersey swamps instead of the Humpty Dump of Minnesota.

There was the campaign Favre waged for three years to "Stick it to Ted" and show he would come out ahead of the Packers in the football side of the war.  He was an interception (and allegedly a Saints bounty hunt) away from winning that part of the war in the 2009 playoffs.

Then, the Packers got to the finish line first with a win in Super Bowl XLV, a month and change after Favre's last game.

Those are just some of the wars in the most public breakup between an athlete and his team in...well...who knows how long?

Brett Favre had been, in my opinion, the third most beloved American athlete ever - only behind Muhammad Ali and Michael Jordan.

That is, until the events of the past four years, which has left many in the general public and not just Packers Planet reviling many of the things he does.

Unfortunately, that has led to hatred - perhaps both inside 1265 Lombardi Avenue and on the property Favre rides on his tractor.

How can that hatred end?  With, perhaps, a bit of an understanding of human nature.

Three years ago, on the day the Packers and Vikings first played a game in which Favre wore purple and gold,   I wrote these statements  to try to get people to understand the failings in that human nature that we are all prone to, that Favre fell into.

"The ability to commit hubris and throw humility out the window is something that at some point in our lives, all of us have probably done in some sort of fashion.

"Could you seriously guarantee that if you would walk in his shoes, you could keep your humility and not step beyond the bounds of right character?

"I pray that I could. Knowing my ability - like us all - for human foibles, it would be REAL hard

"That's the first reason why, despite all my complaints and near permanent state of regurgitation when I see him in purple uniforms, I can't hate Brett Favre."

I still don't like his big ego.  I still don't like that he hasn't publicly done a mea culpa for what he did, particularly for his cornering the Packers into trading him.

I'm not putting the Packers in complete innocence here, either.  A lot of what the Packers could theoretically be at fault for may have happened behind closed doors.  

What needs to happen at some point, is a phone call.  Someone reaching out to say "Hey.  We disagree about what happened over the last years.  Can we talk anyway?"

I'd prefer that it happen after both sides decide to get a mirror and look at themselves, truly see the wrongs both sides actually committed (again, some wrongs that we may never know about), and come to a face-to-face meeting not with anger and plans to explode, but with regret and plans to offer mea maxima culpas.

This needs to be a tearful, generous-of-spirit, reach-across-the-table and genuine reconciliation without negotiation.

It needs to be something that's more than a business dealing.  It needs to be as real, as genuine, as a separated couple who realizes they should come back together and share the rest of their lives loving each other.

It needs to be two friends who haven't seen each other for five years because of resentment and anger over some argument that led to them not speaking.

It needs to be that because the public can see through either side trying to BS us into believing things are hunky-dory when they're not.

Perhaps that kind of discussion, the genuine, open, honest, truly forgiving kind, may take longer than one to two years.

Let the time take care of itself.  Healing doesn't come with a play clock or a two-minute warning.

But let it come.  Packers, Brett, do some soul searching.  End the hate.  Reconcile.  Forgive.

Then the raising of No. 4 at Lambeau Field will mean so much more.