Favre's number retirement should wait

Why are the Packers in rush to retire quarterback's No. 4? Holding a ceremony on opening night a mistake, says PackerReport.com's Bob Fox

The Green Bay Packers learned from the NFL this week that they will be opening the 2008 season on Monday Night Football at home against the Minnesota Vikings. The Aaron Rodgers era will officially begin that night. There is also some speculation that the Packers will perhaps retire Brett Favre's jersey number that night. I hope they don't.

Now don't get me wrong. Favre deserves his number retired in Green Bay. Even during the 2008 season. But NOT on opening night. Not the night that Rodgers is going to start his first regular season game as a Green Bay quarterback. That night, Rodgers deserves the focus and the attention. Brett will have his day, or night, to remember all the 16 seasons of glory that he gave to the Green Bay organization.

But opener is about the players. Especially the post-Favre Packers. The team needs to try and build an identity without Favre. It won't be easy. Favre was not only the face of the Packers, but to many, he was the face of the NFL. But Rodgers and the Packers need to build their own future. And day one is a big beginning.

This is what the team had to say about the possibility of Favre having his number retired that Monday night.

"Certainly, it would be attractive," team President Mark Murphy said. "But I want to see the full schedule before really making a decision like that. And obviously Brett's going to be involved in that decision. We'll make sure it's a date that works for him."

Favre should know how Rodgers feels. Certainly Don Majkowski was no Brett Favre in the total scheme of things for the Packer organization in terms of success and folklore, and the NFL in terms of records, but the "Magic Man" was VERY popular in Green Bay when Favre arrived in 1992. Favre set up his era with an electrifying finish to a rather mediocre performance up to that point in a game against the Cincinnati Bengals on September 20, 1992 at Lambeau Field, after a Majkowski ankle injury.

Favre took the Packers almost the length of the field (92 yards) with 1:07 on the clock, and then he put an exclamation point on the drive with a 35 yard TD pass to Kitrick Taylor with just 13 seconds left in a 24-23 win. The Don Majkowski era was over. And the incredible Brett Favre era was just beginning. Favre would start his first game at Lambeau the next week against the Steelers. An era that would last 16 years and have 253 consecutive starts (275, including the playoffs).

Another reason Favre should not have his number retired that night is because of Favre himself. If there is ever going to be a point where his decision to retire would eat at him, it would be opening game for the Packers in 2008. The Packers should retire Favre's number in 2008, just not that night.

There will be other opportunities. How about at home against the Chicago Bears? Or the Dallas Cowboys? Or the Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning? Perhaps the game can be the same week as alumni weekend when almost all of the former Packer greats will be on hand.

Favre just needs to get away from football and Green Bay for awhile. Favre and the family went to Disneyworld last week, but most of Favre's time is spent doing work at the massive Favre property near Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Certainly Favre will start getting the itch about playing again around training camp. The itch will really need to be scratched on opening night.

At his retirement announcement, Favre also had some advice for Aaron Rodgers, the man who will try to replace the legend. "I wish Aaron well," Favre said. "I think he'll do a great job. I think he has the talent." But Rodgers has to be his OWN man, just like Favre was. "I know everyone's made comments that, 'Boy, big shoes to fill,' " Favre said. "The only shoes he has to fill is himself. He doesn't need to play like Brett Favre. It's all about the cast around you, it's about the coaching staff. If you stay focused on the fact that it's not about you - they obviously drafted him because he has the talent, mental capabilities - he'll be fine. Hopefully one day he's sitting here where I am and able to experience what I've been able to experience."

For Rodgers to be his own man, to have the type of success Favre had, he will need to be a leader. That leadership will start on September 8th. I believe he needs to have his OWN moment that night. It is always tough replacing a legend. Imagine replacing a legend, with that legend right on the sideline, or in a luxury box at your very first game. Also think about how the legend...Brett Favre...will feel.

Let some time pass for a while. Let Rodgers become the player that Mike McCarthy envisions he can become. Let the Packers move on. Let Favre move on. It will not be easy. It wasn't easy when Dan Marino retired for the Miami Dolphins. It wasn't easy when John Elway retired for the Denver Broncos. But it will be a little easier if the Packers move that jersey retirement ceremony a little later in the season. For BOTH Rodgers and Favre.

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