NFL Network has begun a new foray into documentary filmmaking – something the network is quite adept at with series like “Missing Rings” and “A Football Life.” The network will debut its newest series “Timeline” on Thursday, Dec. 3 with an episode on the forming, breaking and repairing of the relationship between Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers.
Viking Update saw an advance copy of the current cut of the film, which is going to have as its final yet-to-be-filmed segment be Favre’s jersey retirement when the Packers host the Bears on Thanksgiving night.
Narrated by Tim McGraw, the film bounces back and forth in time – from Favre’s arrival in Green Bay to how he works out now in Hattiesburg, Miss. While the documentary focused on the love and adoration Packers fans had for Favre, quite a bit of the focus was spent on how much fans of the team felt stabbed in the back when he signed with the Vikings.
The film is a treasure chest of Favre highlights and lowlights, his on-again, off-again flirtation with retirement and candid interviews and behind-the-curtain access.
Of particular interest to Vikings fans will be the footage of his two games in 2009, arguably two of the best games of his career. It includes a couple of the signs that stood out at the time – one comparing his betrayal of the Packers to Judas betraying Jesus and another comparing Favre to the character Fredo in The Godfather.
While the film shows Favre at peace with his life now, it wasn’t always that way. It took a serious look at the friction between Favre and Aaron Rodgers when he was drafted by the Packers – from Rodgers’ point of view.
While Rodgers and General Manager Ted Thompson both give their points of view on the Favre saga, it is decidedly told from Favre’s perspective. He gave his side of the retirement story that led to his change of heart and eventual trade to the New York Jets, which is often the forgotten chapter in his Hall of Fame career.
Favre admitted at his first Jets press conference that he wanted to stay with Green Bay, adding, “I’m not a traitor. I’ll always be a Packer.”
But when he was granted his release from the Jets and was free to sign with anyone, his decision to join the Vikings included some troubling images of his jersey being burned, cars with Favre’s name or likeness on them being smashed with sledgehammers and a macabre funeral service replete with a likeness of Favre inside an actual coffin and as three-hearse motorcade that traveled through Green Bay from Lambeau Field past Favre’s reference to a sports bar.
Packers fans hold their anger and let it out in venomous ways.
Apparently, that ran both ways. In 2009, Favre said he didn’t care who he played for. He just had one request – he wanted a shot at Green Bay.
“I wanted to play for anyone who played the Packers,” Favre said. “They play them twice a year.”
At that point, it appeared as though there would be no reconciliation. Bridges had been burned. But, as with many love stories, time healed the wounds for both sides and Favre said it was actually Thompson who facilitated his return to the Packers family.
The show should be destination for any football fan because it’s a pretty honest portrayal of events from both sides of the coin and, unlike most ugly divorces, it does have a happy ending.
If the future episodes of “Timeline” are as good as the Favre documentary, NFL Network may have a hit on its hands, because its debut episode is well worth the time and will surely spark memories – whether good or bad for Vikings fans – that cemented Favre’s legacy with the Packers.