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By CHRIS HAVEL
“Weekend of Favre” sets terrific stage as Packers’ fans await championship run
The five-minute ovation was deafening inside Lambeau Field. The final “click” of the security fence lock at Camp Randall’s Gate D was silencing. From Saturday night’s welcome home love-fest to Sunday afternoon’s flag football farewell at Madison, the “Weekend of Favre” was a smashing success.
It brought full circle Favre’s rise to NFL greatness, including the highs and lows in Green Bay, and yes, the rather inglorious exit. It focused on the highs. Why? The reason should be obvious: There were so many more good times than bad throughout the rollercoaster ride shared by Favre and his fans.
Life with Favre as the Packers’ quarterback was part amusement-park ride, part real-life adventure, and it was always a thrill-a-minute experience. Most of all, it was genuine.
Packers’ fans felt they could relate to the good-natured but ultra-competitive Favre, a down-home Southern boy whose drawl was endearing and right arm was amazing.
Best of all, Favre and his fans wanted the same thing: To win. Favre showed up for every game, despite whatever injuries, and he proceeded to do his best to get the W. It wasn’t always pretty, but it was pretty unbelievable, and the touchdown passes and victories invariably seemed to overshadow the interceptions and losses, painful as they were.
The Packers with Favre, like with Aaron Rodgers, always feel they have an excellent chance to win. That’s why it’s great being a Packers’ fan. However, that’s also why it’s disappointing, if not shocking, when the Packers lose. It’s especially so if the Packers lose and the quarterback only plays OK.
Favre was seldom just OK. He was too much the virtuoso. He was often great, routinely exceptional and rarely awful. Every once in a while he’d have the Packers rolling along only to make what seemed like an inexplicable mistake. It was as if he’d shake things up just to make it interesting. You know, always looking out for the fans. I’m joking, of course. It only felt that way at times.
Favre was a true leader and terrific teammate. Both stemmed from his ungodly consecutive games played streak. He was an ironman who gave even when it hurt, an attribute that teammates respect and admire most. He was easier to follow because he was strong-willed and because he was there every game. He could be trusted. The fans’ love affair with Favre is as genuine as the man.
As Favre admitted, he’s a good man who has made a lot of mistakes. But who among us is perfect? Favre’s exuberance on the field, and his mistakes off of it, endeared him to fans because they could relate. Leaving and playing for a rival, such as Minnesota, was something they couldn’t relate to. In fact, it was their worst nightmare come to light.
At any rate, all of that is in the past now. I didn’t hear any boos at Lambeau Field. If some boneheads did boo, they were summarily drowned out. The acrimony is ended. Favre’s toughness, skill and hard work helped his teammates achieve Super Bowl immortality. They still love him for it. His fans love him for it.
It was a tremendous weekend. All that was missing were Big Irv and Big Dog. Nobody would have enjoyed the weekend’s events more than Brett’s father, Irvin, and his teammate and friend, Reggie White. Both passed away far too soon.
It was great to see Bonita Favre on Saturday night, but also bittersweet to see her walk onto Lambeau Field without Big Irv at her side. I thought, “Rest in peace, Irvin and Reggie, and know that this was made possible by the two of you.”
So the final chapter on Brett Favre has been written. That is, until the Thanksgiving game against the Bears, and the ceremony to place Brett Favre’s name and No. 4 among the Packers’ all-time greats inside Lambeau Field.
Meantime, the Packers must busy themselves with capturing Super Bowl 50, and preparing to celebrate that AND Favre’s induction next summer into the Pro Football Hall of Fame
Chris Havel is a national best-selling author and his latest book is Lombardi: An Illustrated Life. Havel can be heard Monday through Friday from 4-6 p.m. CDT on WDUZ FM 107.5 The Fan, or on AM-1400, as well as Fan Internet Radio (www.thefan1075.com). Havel also hosts Event USA’ MVP Parties the evening before home games.