I sat in my grandpa’s study for about an hour. The giant block of cheese that had adorned my head since that morning was across the room, thrown in a fit of anguish. My head throbbing, I let it rest in my hands. My grandfather walked in, put his hand on my shoulder and said, “It’s okay Kev, Favre’s crying too.”
Brett Favre was my childhood. I’ll never forget when he walked by me at training camp in his red jersey, waved to the well-wishers, smiled his Southern smile and jogged from the practice field to the locker room. My main growth spurts came at the ages of 8, 11 and 14 — and each year I received a new Favre jersey for Christmas.
I cried when the Packers won Super Bowl XXXI. I cried when they lost XXXII. I cried when San Francisco beat them in the final seconds in 1999.
But it wasn’t all tears. I flipped out when Favre threw six picks against the Rams in the playoffs in 2002, when Favre had three turnovers in an embarrassing home playoff loss to the Falcons in 2003, when Favre blew the NFC Championship against the Giants in 2008, etc. He has broken my heart many times before.
But not like this season. Favre stomped the Packers on Sunday. He stomped the Packers some weeks back in Minneapolis. The Vikings will undoubtedly take the NFC North, and they certainly deserve it. They haven’t impressed me as much as the Saints, but they are definitely a contender for the NFC Championship. And that’s not what hurts most.
What does? I know the Packers did the right thing. I know the Vikings did the right thing. But I don’t know that Favre did the right thing.
Even if the Packers go 8-8 and miss the postseason, they absolutely, unequivocally, without question should have traded Favre to the Jets in 2008. Bringing him back would have screwed Aaron Rodgers, giving him every reason to leave the team via free agency and leave the team without a quarterback once Favre actually retired.
Rodgers has paid off, impressing in his rookie year and leading the league in passer rating this season. And he’s accomplished that with one of the worst offensive lines in football. Just like last season, a porous defense and a patchwork line will doom the Packers — not Aaron Rodgers. Brett Favre wouldn’t change a thing.
As for the Vikings, while I can criticize them all day for letting Favre string them along all summer, I can’t fault them for bringing him in. This is a team with Super Bowl aspirations, and the difference between Tarvaris Jackson and Brett Favre is the difference between 11-5 and 14-2. They have an elite defensive line, an elite running back, a great offensive line and a passable receiving corps; but that wouldn’t get them anywhere without an above average quarterback, and now they’ve got one.
But I can’t forgive Favre. And I don’t think I ever will. His attitude towards Aaron Rodgers was, at best, lukewarm during their time in Green Bay together. According to Rodgers, Favre never talked to him following his “retirement” in 2008 and the two weren’t very close during the previous three seasons — not that they needed to be, but Favre could at least be a mentor, or accept the fact that he is bigger than the franchise.
All of this makes me feel foolish. Heartbroken by the NFL? By a game? Yes, sadly. Thankfully, Aaron Rodgers is making certain these feelings won’t linger for long.