Vikings quarterback Brett Favre says this weekend's game against the Packers will be no different from any other game. In a conference call with Wisconsin reporters Thursday, Brett said, “This game is no different than the fourth game I played in last year.”
Ok, well, whatever. Brett was refreshingly honest with the media in his time in Green Bay. His weekly press conferences were among the most interesting in football, with most full of platitudes about getting better, working hard, etc. He actually said things that were interesting, although hedging, as he usually does, along the way. For that reason, and his value to the franchise and impact on Packer nation, the media was extremely friendly to Brett in Wisconsin, often overlooking flaws on the field or not following up his hedging with more pointed questions.
The kind treatment from the local press corps became more apparent last year when Brett walked into the hornet's nest of the New York media market. All of a sudden, some of the things that were accepted and ignored in Green Bay -- changing in a different locker room (his locker was next to mine), spending little time around teammates, etc. -- were a big deal with the Jets. The goodwill built up over 16 years in Green Bay didn’t help him in New York.
Now, as Brett spoke Thursday to that familiar group of Wisconsin journalists, the warmth and respect from years past were not there. Perhaps it’s similar to his present relationship with Packers fans after the events of the recent past.
It’s a bit sad. Brett was everything in Green Bay 18 months ago. Packer nation grieved with Brett after the loss of his father, empathized with Brett and Deanna when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and cried with Brett when he tearfully announced his retirement in March 2008. At that moment, his popularity was off the charts.
What Packer nation didn't know at the time was that Brett didn't want to retire. He wasn't told to retire by the Packers, but their lack of any scintilla of courtship -- as was done in previous years -- spoke volumes to him. It was also no coincidence that the day he retired was the day after Randy Moss re-signed with the Patriots after another flirtation with the Packers. He never let go of not getting his friend Moss.
I can understand Brett not wanting to revisit the drama of a year ago or dredge up the hurt he felt when coach Mike McCarthy told him those three words on June 20, 2008, after Brett formally asked for his job back: "We've moved on." The fact, though, is that there were not only hurt feelings, but true anger and venom from him and his family toward an organization for whom he had become the signature player. From that point, there were irreconcilable differences leading to eventual divorce.
That said, Brett should have been honest with the Wisconsin media. They weren’t the ones who told him the team had moved on. They were friends to Favre for many years.
This game means a lot to Brett and his family. It’s OK to admit that.
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