Going in to this weekend, I found myself planning my schedule of things to do around the game on Sunday afternoon at 5:40pm between the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints. How did I get to this place where I was scheduling everything around a football game?
It’s been a long journey as citizen of the great state of Wisconsin, and with that comes a certain amount of Packer mania. That’s the Green Bay Packers, for those of you not following along with the great game of football. It’s also been a pretty lonely journey for me – as I am the only football fan in our home. My children aren’t interested in the game. And my husband? Forget it – Chris is an expatriate from the UK, and he can’t stand to watch American football, as he is absolutely certain that football in America pales in comparison to his beloved Rugby in terms of competition, strength and ability – among other unmentionables and streams of criticisms and obscenities that fly out of his mouth when he is subjected to an American football game (“a bunch of bloody wimps, they are”).
So, on Sunday afternoons – – and Monday nights during regular season, I am relegated to my own office for several hours while I watch the game of my choice, by myself. It is a lonely existence for a football fan, to be sure – but one that I religiously do because I love watching the game.
The retirement, un-retirement, retirement and un-retirement of Brett Favre colors my years of being a football fan and this weekend, I have come to realize something that will cause my brother, Scott, to hate me, for sure. More about that later.
Like most Packer fans, the pending retirement of our beloved number 4 was something we’d rather not talk about, at the time. We knew it was coming – but it was the 500 lb gorilla in the room that everyone was ignoring. That is, until 2008 when the Packers web site announced Brett Favre’s retirement from football. There it was. We had to deal with it. We all knew it was coming and when the announcement was posted to their web site – there was no denying it anymore.
Thus began the drama of Brett’s retirement. First, he was retiring. Then, he filed a letter with the Packer’s organization requesting his release from contract so he could play for another team. Then the Packers offered him a $25 million ‘marketing contract’ as long as he remained retired. Then Favre gets traded to the Jets where he started out well enough, but ended the season with a pretty embarrassing string of interceptions in the last 5 games that left everyone speculating that he couldn’t play the game any more. Brett retired from the Jets when the season was over.
In August, 2008 – I posted about it here on this blog:
Sounds like Brett had a good opener with the New York Jets…..even though the Jets eventually lost to the Redskins today in the pre-season game. We saw Favre’s first season TD pass — a 4 yarder to TE Dustin Keller…as a Jet – not a Packer.
Favre playing for the Jets
Seeing Brett Favre in a New York Jets jersey?? Surreal! Like it’s all some strange dream.. or alternate universe. I’m not sure how long this will take – – or if it’s even possible for me – to get over. I really do like Brett Favre and I do really hope he’s happy playing for the Jets. Honest. But.. I’m feeling a bit like a jilted lover over here…like the guy who says “I just can’t handle a relationship right now..can we just be friends??”… then, BAM! The very next week you’re seeing him with someone new…and not only handling a relationship – – but HAPPY about it too. I’m feeling pangs of jealousy over hearing reports from the object of Brett Favre’s attentions..and how happy and excited they are at the prospect of a new season with the NFL’s best quarterback…meanwhile, we’re back here in Wisconsin trying to get to know, and eventually come to love this new guy – – what’s his name? Aaron….something.
I think I need therapy.
“It’s about me not being able to play at the level I’m accustomed to, ” Favre told ESPN.com in an email that year. Still, it was hard for us Packer fans to take.
However, in July 2009 – reports began to surface and speculation about Brett’s return to the NFL were circulating everywhere – – in particular, in Minnesota.
Is it POSSIBLE that Brett Farve would go play for the Vikings, for crying out loud?? THE VIKINGS! As a Green Bay Packer fan – it was unfathomable. What in the world could be worse than Brett Favre’s retirement from the Packers?? Well, if he went to play for someone like the Vikings – that would be way worse. WAY worse.
There it was . . . . the number 4 – in all it’s purple glory.
The outrage ensued – – – the sense of betrayal was palpable across the entire state of Wisconsin…and Minnesota – and beyond:
- Minnesota Vikings Fans Hate Brett Favre…Again – “Anonymous Vikings (probably not Jackson or Rosenfels) said that Favre will be in purple for the third preseason game. I would have been excited if this weren’t the gazillionth time that Favre has courted the Vikings.This guy is like a bully holding your lunch money over your head, just out of your grasp, and then extending the gap as you get close to it.Eventually, you need to kick the bully in the nuts, grab your money, and run away.“
- 15 Best I Hate Brett Favre Shirts For Vikings-Packers Week – with t-shirt sayings such as “Benedict Brett“, “Once a Hero, Now a Zero“, “Public Enemy #4” and the last one leaves little question with “Brett, You’re a Dick“.
- Packers Fans Commence the Obligatory Brett Favre Jersey Burning: Packers fans as you could imagine are not too thrilled to see Favre wearing purple these days. Check out the ceremonial Favre jersey burning taken on by a few Packers fans here on YouTube (warning: language not safe for work):
Some Minnesota fans loved it – the Twin Cities became the Favre Cities and purple jerseys with the #4 were seen all over Minnesota. Meanwhile, as a Packer fan, we couldn’t help but feel betrayed.
For the largest part of my history as a Packer fan, Brett Favre was the man. He never missed a game, and started every single one of them. We were with him through every win, every painful loss – – even the really, really idiotic plays. We grieved with him through the death of his father, and his brother and when his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. He was as much a part of us as cheese and beer. To me, Brett Favre was the Packers – imagining the Packers without Brett was unthinkable — but seeing him in PURPLE?? Blasphemy!
A year and a half later, I have put it into better perspective. I have already received a WHOLE lot of crap for this from my brother – who is as anti-Brett-Favre as you can get – but it began around the end of the Jets season, I started to come to the conclusion that you CAN be a Packer fan AND a Brett Favre fan at the same time. It’s possible – I just couldn’t say it out loud.
When Brett was playing for an AFC team, it was easy to go back and forth. But then……Favre became one of the purple people.
I tried really hard to hate him. For the sake of my beloved Packers – – and my safety – I had to pick sides. I could no longer sit on the fence and breeze through the football season bouncing between Packer and Jets games on my TV. Now he is playing for the enemy – time to choose!
I was one of the 28.5 million people who sat down in front of their TV sets on October 5, 2009 to watch the Green Bay Packers play the Minnesota Vikings at the Metrodome. I sat down to watch that game a complete and total Packer fan. I fretted over the idea that the Packers could lose this game – – considering the Metrodome Curse that the Packers seem to suffer from. I love Favre – but I love the Packers more – I wanted to see them win this!
Then, during the course of the game – a very strange thing began to happen. Favre played an amazing game that night – he was on. He was the Favre we loved to watch back in Lambeau Field. Favre, the quarterback everyone loves to hate, completed that game with three touchdown passes and 271 yards in a 30-23 victory against the Packers. Those hours were schizophrenic ones for me – – I switched between two distinct different personalities: Lisa – the Packer Fan and Lisa the Brett Favre fan. It gave me a headache – but I walked away from that game feeling badly for the Packers – but elated for Favre. I still love to watch that man play football!
I could not admit this to my family, however — in particular my brother, Scott. Now THERE is a man who is rabid in his complete and utter distaste for everything Favre – – and to brush off the fact that I still root for #4 – my brother explains it away by saying that I’m a typical woman rooting for Favre because he looks good in tight pants.
Let’s face it – they ALL look good in tight pants, ok? I realize it’s easy for my brother, in his denial, to take the easy way out of it by going the tight pants route . . . but there was a truth emerging after that October 5th game at the Metrodome. A truth that I was not quite understanding…yet – – but it would come…
Fast forward to November 1 in Green Bay. The Vikings, once again, going up against their nemesis at Lambeau field. Brett was boo’d by Packer fans when he took his place on Lambeau field as a Minnesota Viking. Packer fans needed closure – – and this was cathartic for them. Brett had been like family to us for so many years — Favre could not expect anything less than an emotional, gut wrenching reaction from the fans in Green Bay:
A plane trailing a “Retire 4 Good” banner circled Lambeau in the hours before the game, and Favre was greeted with a long, loud chorus of boos when he jogged out for the game, the last of the Vikings to take the field. Oh, he heard cheers here and there, but they were largely drowned out by whistles and boos anytime he got close to the ball.
There were shirts calling him everything from “Traitor” to “Judas” to “Drama Queen.” One fan carried a poster with “True Legends Don’t Wear Purple.” Behind the Vikings bench, someone hung a “Welcome Back to Lambeau Field … B-R-E-N-T” sign.
“It’s like going into church on Sunday and the priest says, ‘Everybody go home, Jesus has now sided with the devil,” said Tom Fields, whose Favre jersey now has “JUDAS” on the back and big red slashes through the 4s.
Asked if he was surprised at the reaction, Favre said, “Sure, I would have loved …” and then paused.
“It was about what I expected,” he said.
But it’s impossible to ignore what Favre meant to the Packers, and the conflicting emotions were everywhere. Some fans wore Favre’s Vikings jersey beneath their Packers jackets. There were half Minnesota-half Green Bay jerseys. Other fans simply wore their old Green Bay No. 4s.
A smaller sign near the Vikings bench said, “Thanks 4 the Memories,” and another proclaimed Lambeau “Brett’s Field.”
It was bittersweet. Made worse by the fact that Favre lead the Vikings to a 38-26 defeat over the Packers on his old home turf. He had a pretty good game himself, that day…completed 17 of 28 passes for a total of 244 yards with 4 touchdown passes.
For me, the truth was beginning to emerge…it was hazy at first, but I was beginning to see the clear picture through the fog – – I began to realize that it is possible to be a Packer fan AND be a Favre fan all at the same time. (GASP!) Make no mistake, when the Vikings play the Packers – it’s a real fine line to walk. On one hand, you want to see the Packers win – – on the other hand, you want to see Favre do well. I do really enjoy watching Aaron Rogers step into Favre’s shoes and transform from a second string bench warmer to spreading his wings and becoming a really great quarterback.
My heart still aches for a Favre in Green and Gold – – but I have made it through the Kübler-Ross 5 stages of grief:
- Denial — “It’s all a lie; no way is Favre playing for the Vikings”
- Anger — “Why me? It’s not fair! – it’s Bush’s fault!”
- Bargaining — “I promise not to burn my #4 jersey – just let Favre play ONE more season – just one!”
- Depression — “It’s just not the same… the Packers without Favre – beer will never taste so good”
- Acceptance – “Might as well go with it – Yay Packers! Yay Favre! – I can do both!”
Last week’s Viking game against the Cowboys cinched it for me. I watched the entire game from start to finish, all by myself – with only my Facebook and Twitter friends keeping me company (no one else around here will tolerate football, sadly). My husband, Chris, would pop his head in my office every once in awhile and ask if he could bring me a beer or barbecue a bratwurst for me, or something equally cliche’, as he walks off laughing to himself that anyone in their right mind could find American football the LEAST bit entertaining.
In the midst of that game, I realized – I still adore Brett Favre.
There. I said it. My name is Lisa Sabin-Wilson and I love Brett Favre.
Watching Favre play is to be reminded of the passion for the game. Gosh darn it, he just loves to play the game and that shines through whether Favre is winning, or losing. That’s why we loved him as a Packer — it’s why we were so betrayed and felt a deep sense of loss when he left Green Bay – – we love the man because he loves the game.
Watching him play the game takes us back – – it removed the commercialization of the game – – the corporate-ness of it all, and takes us back to why we just love the sport, period. That is the magic of watching Brett Favre play football. I have come to terms with that. He loves the game and it shows. You can’t help but catch the energy and passion that he puts into it – – no matter how much you want to hate him for all the drama, you just can’t help it. Ohhhh I’m going to catch so much hell from my brother for this….but it doesn’t matter if he’s green or purple, witnessing Brett Favre is witnessing football in its purest form. Just look at this face….
This is why Packer fans all over the fine state of Wisconsin are going to close and lock their doors, draw their curtains and turn on the game today and watch the Minnesota Vikings crush the New Orleans Saints for the NFC win. Packer fans are drawn to Favre, even still. They may not admit it (Scott – I KNOW you are watching today!) – but they will be there to watch it happen…all the way to the Super Bowl!
As for me, I would like to see the Vikings V. Jets in the Super Bowl with, of course, a Vikings win. Call me a traitor all you want (yes, Scott, I’m talking to YOU) – but I’ve come to terms with all of this drama and have put it all behind me. I love ’em both – the Packers and Favre – tight pants, and all!