Few things brought more joy to Vikings fans than to see Favre wearing purple – to the horror of Packers fans. For the Green Bay faithful, it was a blow from which it was hard to recover. Given the Vikings' dominance in 2009, it wasn't a hard pill to swallow, it was a hard hub cap to swallow for Packers fans.
However, while Vikings fans relished in having the face of the Packers franchise leading them on a deep playoff run, it should have been known to most that Green Bay and No. 4 would kiss and make up eventually.
It has taken time. Both sides were bitter. Favre felt pushed aside for a younger model (Aaron Rodgers) – a decision nobody in Green Bay has regretted. The Packers wanted to make sure what happened with the Vikings wouldn't take place – trading Favre out of the NFC to the New York Jets and putting a caveat in the trade that if New York traded Favre to the Vikings, the compensation would be two first-round picks. When the Jets made the foolhardy mistake of trading up in order to get USC QB Mark Sanchez, they gave Favre his release and opened the door for him to sign with the Vikings.
Considering that Favre last played in 2010, it seems apparent that the wounds were a little deeper than just a guy changing teams. The anger and the hurt went to the heart and core of all sides – Favre, the Packers front office and the fan base.
The reconciliation process seemed inevitable, but has been three years-and-counting in the making. There have been incremental steps. Packers boss man Ted Thompson has opened the door. Rodgers has officially signed off and said he welcomes Favre coming back to the Packers family. This week, Favre extended the olive branch that might get the story completed – with a happy ending.
In an interview this week with WGR-AM 550 Radio in Buffalo, Favre refused to take full responsibility for the current separation of legend and franchise, but made the admission, "I was at fault." Whether he believes that may be another story entirely, but he got it out there – even if it wasn't on a Wisconsin radio station. Who makes admissions on an upstate New York station? Brett, apparently.
When the whole story comes out, it will say that the Packers wanted to push Favre out. He had set just about every record there was to set and they wanted Rodgers to get his shot for the next decade or more. It was a business decision, much like Mafia killings are nothing personal, just business. When Favre held his tearful retirement press conference, his heart wasn't in it. The Packers had offered to buy him off for $20 million to make golf tournament appearances and maybe a few autograph sessions and smiles and waves at halftime of prime time games. It's a pretty good gig if you can get it.
But what the Packers didn't take into account was the itch that Favre gets in July that had him coming back for another run at a Super Bowl. His love for football is as strong as any player who ever played the game. When he informed the Packers he was coming back, the fans were giddy. It wasn't like the Beatles landing at Idlewild Airport, but it wasn't far off. Thousands of Packers fans greeted him and his wife and it was clear that, after months of getting the rest of the Packers roster to put their faith in Rodgers, Favre was going to be a wrench in those plans. It couldn't happen. It didn't. He was sent packing to the Jets and the rest became history.
While Favre publicly denied that he came to the Vikings to "stick it" to the Packers, few believe that to be true. He was unceremoniously pushed aside, and when he didn't take it the way the Packers wanted, he wanted revenge. The 2009 season is still an open wound for the Packers because Favre "stuck it" to them like few others ever have. Fans actually hated him. Signs in the stands comparing him to Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, spoke to the depth of some of that anger.
It would seem that the wounds have scabbed over and, much like stitch marks, have started to fade and look more like normal skin. Enough time has passed that both the Packers and Favre can say "I love you" and reconcile. It's gone on long enough. It's time to make the peace.
It would seem fitting that the Packers retire Favre's No. 4 when the Packers play the Vikings Nov. 24 at Lambeau Field. It will be the Sunday before Thanksgiving, typically when The Wizard of Oz would make its annual network TV broadcast and remind generations that there was no place like home.
Whether things can progress quickly enough in the détente that the Packers and Favre continue toward complete reconciliation this year is still up in the air. It was a messy split between the two that only got worse when Favre came to Minnesota. Now enough time has passed for both to remember the good times along the way and not how things ended. Will Favre's olive branch extension will be accepted by the Packers and he can take his rightful place among the Packers legends that echo through the hallowed ground of Lambeau?
Vikings fans won't forget the joy of seeing Packers fans suffer, but we all knew this day would come eventually. It's been three years. It's been long enough.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.