Editor's note: What do you think about what Favre said? Send Bill an e-mail at the link at the end of this commentary.
"What the hell's going on out here?" bellowed Vince Lombardi famously.
You can imagine Lombardi yelling something similar in the direction of his television if God gets HBO.
Brett Favre was on the premiere episode of Joe Buck's show on Monday night, and Buck asked the million-dollar question to the retired-for-now quarterback.
Buck said it would be a "knee to the gut of people in Green Bay" to see Favre return to the NFL while wearing the purple jersey of the bitter-rival Minnesota Vikings.
"I don't know what to tell them other than Vince Lombardi went to the Washington Redskins when he left," Favre said. "His name's on the trophy. We give that trophy out every year. I don't hear too many people say, ‘Damn traitor, you went to Washington.' Time heals a lot of things."
What the hell, indeed.
Let's review that statement. Lombardi stepped down as coach following the 1967 season, in which he led the Packers to victory in Super Bowl II and their stunning fifth title in seven years. Lombardi handed the coaching reins to his trusted right-hand man, Phil Bengtson, but stayed on as general manager. A year later, and tired of being "out of the action," Lombardi talked to the Packers' board of directors before signing on with the Washington Redskins to be their coach and general manager.
Lombardi retired. Favre retired.
Lombardi missed coaching. Favre missed playing.
But it's at that point where one story heads east and the other heads west.
Lombardi didn't feel it was right to pull the rug out from under Bengtson. Favre wanted to pull the rug out from Aaron Rodgers.
Lombardi didn't go to Detroit or Chicago. He went to Washington. Did everyone in Green Bay happily wish him well as he left town? Of course not, but at least he had no interest in, in borrowing Buck's words, kicking Packers fans in the gut. Favre wants to play for Minnesota. Nothing could be a stiffer kick in the gut to Packers fans.
With Favre breaking the silence – he hadn't talked publicly since retiring from the Jets a few months ago – there no longer is any doubt about the end game. The Vikings have admitted they're interested, and Favre left no doubt he's interested in the Vikings. One itty-bitty two-letter words spoke volumes.
"Once again, it's like the terminology with the offense, it makes a lot of sense, because the pieces are in place and they do have a great running back. They have a great running game," said Favre, who is two-and-a-half weeks removed from a surgery requiring four to five weeks of recovery. "If I go there, there's no guarantees. We all know that. I went through that last year with New York. I'd like to think that — I think every player should think that he is a difference-maker. I think you have to believe that. But I think in that situation, understanding what is expected of you, knowing your team, knowing that as long as we can run the ball and complete passes when needed, we should be pretty good."
There it is: "We should be pretty good."
How does your gut feel, Packers fans, to know that when Favre says "we," he's not talking about your beloved team?
"I have nothing but the highest regard for Green Bay. I mean that sincerely," Favre said. "Did some things happen there that may have ruffled some feathers for both sides? Yes. But once again, the 16 years I spent there, you can't take away. I wouldn't change it for anything in the world. They chose to go in a different direction and that's OK. And I chose to play again, and that's OK.
"I have former players, friends of mine, I have family who say, ‘I can't picture you playing anywhere but Green Bay. I just can't do it.' It's football. It's not life or death."
No, it's not life or death in that permanent sense. The sun will come up, regardless. But his "high regard" for the Packers must mean very little to him. If he's playing simply because he loves the game, then why not stay with the Jets? The answer is patently obvious, and that's Favre's single-minded focus on proving the Packers made a big mistake by turning their back on him 11 months ago.
If Favre's focus is revenge, then fine. But just say it. Don't justify your actions by comparing yourself to the great Vince Lombardi. What the hell, indeed.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Bill also is giving Facebook and Twitter a try. Find him on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook.