Ten Stories That Changed Our Lives: #9 Brett Favre
Brett Favre as a Packer, Jet and Viking. | Photos: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/AP
When the decade began, Brett Favre was the most beloved athlete in the history of Wisconsin's most beloved team.
But in the last two years, Favre turned from Packer, to Jet, to Viking.
Because of that, many of us have had a major change in attitude about either Brett Favre, his old team or both.
All this controversy over Favre began in 2002, when the first retirement rumblings began.
"I don't to play and be one of those guys who just keeps hanging on," said Favre after the 2002 campaign.
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After that statement, all of Packers nation began an offseason vigil that has lasted for part of seven years, the "Tractor Watch."
We heard him occasionally give direct answers as to whether he would return, like in 2005 at Packers Fan Fest.
"Are you coming back for another season," asked Larry McCarren at that event.
"Yes," said Favre in a simple one-word answer.
More often than not, we heard comments like "I wish I knew" and "I wish I could" come from his mouth when asked about the controversial delays on decision, which sometimes stretched into May.
Then the moment Packers fans never wished for came in March of 2008.
"It's over. As hard as that is for me to say, it's over," said Favre in a tearful goodbye to the Packers.
But five months later, it wasn't.
Following a contentious public relations debate between Favre and Packers general manager Ted Thompson, an "itch" to return, a request for a release to the Minnesota Vikings, a return to Green Bay and a long, emotional meeting with Mike McCarthy where he expressed his displeasure for how he felt he had been treated in Green Bay, Thompson traded Brett Favre to the New York Jets.
After a missed bid at the playoffs, Favre retired again.
"It's time to leave," said Favre, and and we really thought it was over.
"In my heart, in most of our hearts, he'll always be a Packer," said a fan after one of Favre's retirements.
Until that August flight from Hattiesburg, Miss. to St. Paul, Minn., when Brett Favre became the thing that so many Packers fans despise, a Minnesota Viking.
"I still feel like I can help this team," said Favre.
How has Packers Nation reacted? For some of us, it's turned from outward love of the guy to a complete cacophony of boos when he went into the huddle for the first time at Lambeau Field in a Vikings uniform on November 1st.
Others kept their allegiance to number four and made the Packers into the adversary, while the general manager who they believe forced Favre out became arguably the most hated man in Wisconsin.
Some, like former Packers President Bob Harlan - the man who was in charge of the Packers when Brett Favre came - couldn't even let his eyes see number four in a Vikings uniform against his old team.
"It totally killed me," said Harlan. "We not only didn't watch it. We didn't even listen on the radio."
Even Brett Favre saw the difference when he played his old team at Lambeau.
"Packers fans were there," describing what he saw on the Vikings' team bus while traveling to Lambeau. "There was some purple, cheers, a couple 'fingers (expressing displeasure).' "
And for us all, it seems weird that the most beloved Packer of them all is now the flash point for perhaps the most divisive time in the team's history.