Commentary: Favre gives us reason to believe

Since that fateful day nearly a dozen years ago vs. Cincinnati, Brett Favre has always given Packer fans a reason to believe. Usually, it's his arm that inspires that confidence. This week, long before the first pass of the season is in the books, Favre has provided rock-solid hope for 2004 with just a few words.<P>

When GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman addressed stock holders last week, he told the fervent fans to "get over" last year's gut-wrenching finish. He was right, of course, but that's easier said than done. When Brett Favre took to the podium Wednesday for his first training camp press conference, all of the sudden it seemed easy to take Sherman's advice. Getting over the blown opportunity last season is a piece of cake when Favre starts talking like it's 1996 all over again.

Yes, it seemed like old times with Favre alternating between glibly ribbing reporters and seriously touting his team as perhaps the best he's seen. Favre wasted no time talking about the Super Bowl with the certainty and immediacy he used eight years ago.

He was right back then. Now, with the new season spread out like the Lambeau turf in front of us, there's no reason not to believe he's right this time.

Favre didn't have to reach far to make the logical leap to a possible Super Bowl berth. The Packers are returning most of their starters from a team that came within ... well, we're supposed to get over that, but everyone knows how close this team came to taking another step. Ahman Green takes a back seat to no one, including running backs like Emmitt Smith and Terrell Davis who paved their teams' way to the top. The receiving corps is a year more mature. The list goes on and on, and Favre laid out each part of the Packer plan perfectly.

Preseason is a time where everyone is undeafeated. It's a time when even the lowliest of franchises talks about promise, potential and - as ex-Bear coach Dave Wannstedt once (regrettably) said - all the pieces being in place.

Everyone can say it, but not everyone can mean it. All 32 head coaches can put forth glowing training camp reviews, but more than half of those must return to their office, close their doors and wonder how they're going to fill the gaps.

When Brett Favre says it, you can believe it. He'll tell you he can't really move his thumb. He'll tell you he might not play next year. But he'll also tell you that "it's right there for us." And he means it.

"To me, it's Super Bowl or (the season) was a bust. I know there are other teams out there saying the same thing, and that's fine," Favre said. "I don't see why we don't fit right in at the top. There's no sense in talking it down or working our way through it. Hey, it's there for us."

That's the way we were in '96," Favre said. "We lost in '95 in the (NFC) championship game and when we came back there was a certain air about us. We knew we were going to do it. We were a little older than this team is, but we saw how good we could be and how close we came."

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