Lurtsema's Reaction: The Favre factor

Bob Lurtsema has some insight into returning to what was once his home stadium, and he has some experience with the emotions Brett Favre will be dealing with in his return trip to Lambeau Field. Plus, he looks at the Favre-to-Sidney Rice factor, the pressure applied on Aaron Rodgers and more.

VU: Brett Favre will be going back to Lambeau Field for the first time without being a Packer. How was Bob Lurtsema Day at Metropolitan Stadium for you when you came back as a Seattle Seahawk?

BL: That was the most fun any player could ever have, coming back here and playing against your buddies. When I came back, they gave up 60,000 hearts saying, ‘Welcome back, Bob." The Vikings offensive linemen set up a play to put three guys on me to bury me one time, but they never got far enough ahead to pull that off. They were mad about that. When you come back, you want to prove that they shouldn't have let you go, but playing against your buddies is like taking your brother out to the backyard for a game of basketball and just whaling on him. The competition is so alive and real because Brett Favre plays the game because he loves it and loves the competition. That's pretty much the way I felt. I'm not comparing myself to Brett Favre, but most of the players that stick around for over 10 years have that kind of attitude. It's so contagious and so much fun.

VU: How much more difficult do you think it will be for him to keep his emotions in check because he'll be in Lambeau and when the Vikings are on offense, it's probably going to be awfully loud?

BL: Once the ball is snapped, everything is forgotten and you block the crowd out. It's no different than when you move into a house near the airport. After a couple days, you never hear the airplanes anymore. Your mind can block out certain things. It won't bother him. It really won't. The only thing I'd worry about is if he scores a touchdown on a QB sneak, will he do the Lambeau leap? If he does, it's not a slap in their face. It's a compliment to the fans. Packers fans are great. Brett Favre loves them. There is no animosity on his part. With Ted Thompson, that's a different story. I'm not going to get involved in that, but he dropped the ball so many different times. But also in the same breath, Aaron Rodgers is an awfully fine quarterback. I think he had 384 yards against the Vikings at the Metrodome.

VU: What do you think the reaction of fans will be to Favre now? And what happens in a few years down the road when they retire his jersey and he returns to Lambeau again? Will they have at least forgive, even if they never forget?

BL: Did they boo Joe Montana? Did they boo Johnny Unitas? When Favre returns for his jersey retirement, he is a part of the history of the Green Bay Packers. They will embrace him 120 percent.

What I think you're going to see on Sunday is a lot of cheering for him. The ones that will boo him, they'll turn to their buddy and kind of chuckle, like they are getting away with something to boo him softly. They know in their heart that they respect the man. They've been lucky enough to enjoy him and his love of the game for 16 years. The Vikings fans have embraced him and they've had him for only seven games. Compare seven games to 16 years and you understand why the Packers fans will be there for him.

VU: Where would this team be without Favre right now?

BL: They would definitely have two more losses. You'd probably be losing the Baltimore game, and that San Francisco game is out the window. I even wrote in the Viking Update magazine that they would start out 6-0 or 5-1 with Favre. Without him, they would have a couple more losses, but that's just guessing. You've seen what he's done and the calm that he brings to the huddle in tough situations and I really haven't seen that calm from any quarterback in a long, long time. Fran Tarkenton used to bring that in the huddle too. He had the ability to calm everybody down.

VU: What do you think has made the Favre to Sidney Rice connection take off so quickly?

BL: I have to give credit to Rice there. He's a bright kid and he's working hard so he can get into Favre's brain and get on the same wavelength. A lot of that comes down to certain reads with certain routes, and Rice cannot come off his route, whether he thinks it's right not, because Favre reads so fast that Rice has to stay with his routes. And if he's the fourth receiver, get ready, because as fast at Favre reads, the fourth route could be getting the ball just quickly as the No. 1 receiver. Rice, working with receivers coach George Stewart, they've got it down where they are on the same wavelength with Favre. I don't believe they picked it up right away in the preseason because you have to have playing time in a regular-season game because there is big difference in speed, timing, the whole works, between preseason and regular season.

VU: The last time these two teams met, the Vikings defensive line sacked Aaron Rodgers eight times. Was that a result of them facing a bad line in transition or was there extra motivation carrying over to defense because of Favre's situation?

BL: There was no more motivation. They wanted to win, but the way the game was going with the Packers getting down early, it helped Jared Allen get 4½ sacks. There were quite a few adjustments being made on the offensive line for Rodgers. Rodgers still had a great game with that much pressure on him. Now that they've made a lot of adjustments, their offensive line is definitely a lot better than it was the first time. That's why I think this contest is going to be very close. I'd love to see the Vikings get 10 sacks, but I bet it will be right around three total sacks.

Win, lose or draw for any of the younger players, if this is their first time at Lambeau, it will be the greatest field that they play on in the league. The fans are right on top of you. And Benchwarmer Bob thinks they have the best benches in the National Football League. They're heated for your feet, your fingers and your fanny.

Bob Lurtsema registered 57 regular-season sacks and three in the playoffs during his 12-year career as a defensive lineman in the NFL, playing with the Baltimore Colts, New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks, and was the longtime publisher of Viking Update. He joins for a weekly Q & A session, and his monthly column appears in the magazine.

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