Hours before the Green Bay Packers were scheduled to square off with the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field and he was to have his No. 4 retired at a halftime ceremony, Brett Favre heaped some mighty praise on Aaron Rodgers.
And he did it in a way that only Favre can.
“He’s almost too good. I mean that with all due respect,” said Favre, speaking to a gathering of around 1,500 for a fundraising event at the KI Convention Center in Green Bay. “It’s like, ‘Crap, why doesn’t he make a mistake every once and a while? I mean, all of my good records will be broken and all my bad ones I’m going to keep. When I watch him, he’s good. He’s good. I don’t know what else to say. To me, you really know if a guy is great if he can carry a team when the rest of the team is just OK. They lose guys, they plug guys in, but they still win, they’re still prolific.”
Favre will have his jersey number and name unveiled on the stadium facade at tonight’s game. His jersey was formally retired July 18 during his Packer Hall of Fame induction ceremony, which included an emotional address to a sold-out crowd in the stadium’s bowl.
“It was amazing,” said Favre. “It was one of those moments you know that, much like today, much like tonight, you want to soak it all in. But then when it’s over, it still doesn’t seem real. It was just an amazing experience.”
On Thursday afternoon, Favre was presented with a key to the city of Green Bay by Mayor Jim Schmitt. Before that, he sat down for a “Chalk Talk” interview for nearly an hour. The appearance was part of an event for the Rawhide boys ranch, which Favre and his wife, Deanna, have been supporters of for over 14 years.
Rawhide, which was designed to help at-risk and troubled boys throughout Wisconsin, was co-founded by Bart and Cherry Starr. They were recognized as well at the event for their 50-year affiliation with the organization.
The Starrs arrived in Green Bay on Wednesday for the historic Thanksgiving Day game. Bart has been making a slow but steady recovery from a heart attack and series of strokes suffered in September 2014 that nearly killed him. He more recently had a serious lung infection that he rebounded from, too. Cherry reiterated at the event that Bart plans to be at Lambeau and is “going to walk on that field tonight,” even with limited strength.
Starr had his No. 15 retired by the Packers in November 1973. Favre is the sixth Packers player to have his number retired joining Starr, Tony Canadeo, Don Huston, Ray Nitschke and Reggie White.
“I was a daydreamer. You can ask my mom,” said Favre. “When work was involved, I was nowhere to be found. Saturday morning was our to-do list and I’d be daydreaming about running out for the Saints or the Cowboys or playing in the Super Bowl or something. I never dreamed of the NFL, my jersey, or the Hall of Fame. Granted, that’s awesome. But I dreamed of playing. … The dreams that I had as a kid – and we all have dreams that we’re going to be this or that – mine have come true and then some. That’s pretty amazing.”
Prior to the Packers Hall of Fame ceremony this summer, Favre had only made one public appearance in Green Bay since his official retirement from the Minnesota Vikings after the 2010 season. That was an unannounced visit for a similar “Chalk Talk” for Rawhide on Dec. 8 at Brett Favre Steakhouse. The Packers had a Monday night game against the Atlanta Falcons that night but Favre did not stick around for the game, which the Packers won 43-37. Rodgers has his typical night with 327 yards passing and three touchdowns.
“You kind of know what you get with Aaron Rodgers,” said Favre during a portion of his talk when he described transitioning to more of a mental quarterback later in his career. “I never was as good as him. I can throw it. I can throw it with anybody. But, man, everything looks so good when he’s at his best. Everything with Joe Montana used to look good. Steve Young. (Tom) Brady. I wasn’t that good. I was better at ‘All right, you do this. You do that.’ And the other guys are like, ‘What do we do?’ And I was like, ‘Ah, who cares. We’ll work this out at the end.’”