I’ve been covering the Green Bay Packers for 13 years now. Besides the NFL draft stories I have written, which always seem to get a large audience, articles about Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers always seem to attract the most readers.
Why? It’s pretty simple. From 1992 through 2014, either Favre or Rodgers have started and won quite often for the Packers at quarterback, plus both played at an outstanding level.
In that time, Rodgers missed nine games in the seven years as a starter, while Favre never missed a game in 16 years.
Between the two, the Packers are a combined 233-130 over 23 seasons. Included in that span are 11 NFC Central/North titles, 17 appearances in the playoffs, two Super Bowl wins and five NFL MVP awards.
It was an appearance together by Favre and Rodgers at the 2013 NFL awards show that helped to heal the wounds of many of the Packers faithful after No. 4 had finished his stellar NFL career with the Minnesota Vikings over two seasons.
Rodgers talked about that get together with Jason Wilde of ESPNWisconsin.com in June.
“As much as on-stage at the NFL Honors I think that was important for fans and the team to publicly see us coming together, I think time is the ultimate catalyst for things coming back together,” Rodgers said. “Sometimes it just takes some time for people to move on and move past things. I was happy to be a part of that. It was fun for me to see Brett and do that little bit on stage with him.
“But this is a fun time for him, I think. He’s been obviously away from it for a few years now, and I think a lot of that stuff has healed up – I hope it has. And it’d be great to see him get his number retired, go up on the stadium façade – which is an incredible honor – with the other four legends – and obviously his Packers Hall of Fame induction. And then obviously next year, going into Canton will be great. So this is again a fun time for him, and hopefully people can look back and remember all the great memories, the streaks, the Super Bowls, the MVPs, the wins, the drama which always followed those games. It’ll be a fun time.”
Wilde was also able to talk with Favre recently. Brett talked about his feelings for Rodgers during the ugly divorce he and the Packers had in the summer of 2008 when he was traded to the New York Jets.
“Was there animosity toward Aaron Rodgers [in the summer of 2008]? No, there wasn’t,” Favre said. “I like Aaron. Aaron and I get along fine. I knew at some point he had to play. I knew he had tremendous potential. All those things have come true, and I don’t feel like, ‘Well, what about me?’
“Again, my body of work speaks for itself. I’m a different player than he is. He’s a tremendous player and a great leader, and he’s doing exactly what I thought he’d do. When people try to create a wedge either with me and a player or me and the organization, there isn’t one. Life goes on, I understand that, and I’m OK with that. But again, what I did speaks for itself.”
What Favre did in Green Bay does speak for itself.
For instance, Favre started 253 straight games (275 including the postseason) at quarterback over 16 seasons. Brett also won three NFL MVP awards. No. 4 also had 160 wins over 16 seasons. 96 of those wins occurred at Lambeau Field (.762 winning percentage).
Favre threw 442 touchdown passes for 61,655 yards while he was in Green Bay. The former Southern Miss star led the Packers to seven divisional titles and 11 playoff appearances. That includes two NFC championships and one Super Bowl win.
I was writing for Packer Report while Favre played in Green Bay. I was honored when one of my stories about him made it to his official website.
Favre is the one being honored now. On Saturday night, Favre will be welcomed into the Packers Hall of Fame. Favre said he will probably wing it when he gives his speech.
“I think what I’ll probably say initially is, ‘I thought about writing something down. I thought about writing a script, but you know what? I figured I’d wing it sort of like I played, so just bear with me,'” Favre said to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. “It’s only fitting.
“I don’t want to sit there and make it longer than the whole event is anyway — and it’s going to be long — but I do want to acknowledge a lot of people and just maybe tell a few funny stories, kind of keep it as lighthearted as possible. It could be 20 minutes, it could be an hour, I don’t know.”
Then later this year on Thanksgiving night versus the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field, Favre will have his No. 4 retired and put on the facade of the storied stadium next to the numbers retired for Don Huston (No. 14), Tony Canadeo (No. 3), Bart Starr (No. 15), Ray Nitschke (No. 66) and Reggie White (No. 92).
Favre was not the only legend to leave Green Bay after some glorious times there.
Team founder and coach Curly Lambeau left the Packers after a heated dispute with the executive committee in 1950 to coach the Chicago Cardinals. Lambeau coached the Packers from 1921 to 1949, winning 209 games with a .656 winning percentage and six NFL championships.
But even with that, Lambeau had issues with the executive committee of the Packers.
Lambeau’s last two teams in Green Bay were a combined 5-19. Plus, Lambeau ticked off members of the committee by purchasing the Rockwood Lodge north of Green Bay for $25,000 for the Packers to practice at from 1946 to 1949. The facility burned down on Jan. 24, 1950, and Lambeau resigned a week later to coach the Cardinals.
The Cardinals were considered a very talented team when Lambeau arrived there. The Cardinals had won the NFL title in 1947, and next to the Bears, were clearly the next-biggest rival to the Packers at the time. Needless to say, people in Green Bay were not real happy when Lambeau joined forces with the Cardinals.
Then another coaching legend arrived a few years later—Vince Lombardi. The result of his tenure? Five NFL championships in seven years, including the first two Super Bowls.
Included in that tenure was three straight NFL titles (1965-1967), something that was never done in NFL history except once, when Lambeau did it from 1929-1931 with his Packers.
Lombardi left the Packers after the 1968 season (Lombardi was a GM-only that season) to coach the Washington Redskins. The Packers had stopped Lombardi from leaving a couple of times before, as the New York Giants had tried to get Lombardi back to his hometown and back with his close friend and college buddy Wellington Mara, who owned the Giants.
Together, Lambeau and Lombardi brought 11 world championships to Green Bay, with Lambeau winning six titles and Lombardi five in seven years, including Super Bow I and Super Bowl II. The Super Bowl trophy is now named the Lombardi Trophy.
Other legends have moved on from Green Bay as well, including some noteworthy players.
Reggie White played six seasons with the Packers, helping them win Super Bowl XXXI with a Super Bowl-record three sacks of the Patriots’ Drew Bledsoe. White finished his career in Green Bay by winning the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 1998.
After a year of retirement, White finished his career in 2000 with the Carolina Panthers, a team the Packers had defeated in the 1996 NFC Championship game.
There was also Jim Taylor and Paul Hornung. That tandem was the force of the Packers’ vaunted ground game in the Lombardi era from 1959 to 1966. Taylor and Hornung won MVP awards and helped the team win four world championships.
However, in 1967, Taylor left as a free agent for the New Orleans Saints, and Hornung was claimed by the Saints in the 1967 expansion draft but never played because of a neck injury.
Other great performers have left the team in the latter portions of their careers, including Forrest Gregg, Jim Ringo, Herb Adderley, James Lofton, Ahman Green and Charles Woodson.
But nothing affected the fan base more than seeing Favre play for the Vikings.
It certainly was very difficult for many fans to see Favre wearing purple. That being said, I’m sure fans of the Bears were not too pleased when they saw Jim McMahon in a Packers uniform, either.
But Jimmy Mac was just a backup to Favre. Favre was a starter for two years with the Vikings, including 2009, when the Vikings made it to the NFC Championship Game. The Vikings and Favre also beat the Packers and Rodgers twice that season.
But all is forgiven now.
Bottom line, legends do indeed leave Green Bay from time to time to finish their NFL careers. Yes, the legends leave, but the warm and glorious memories of their deeds never do.
After all, the Packers do play at Lambeau Field, which is located at 1265 Lombardi Avenue in Green Bay.
That is the location where Favre will be this Saturday night, when he is inducted into Packers Hall of Fame because of all of the incredible moments he had as a member of the Packers over 16 seasons.