GREEN BAY – Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers were planning for the legendary quarterback to return to Lambeau Field last November, for the Packers’ Nov. 4 Monday Night Football game against the Chicago Bears, according to a source.
No, Favre would not have been able to come out of the stands to step in at quarterback after Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone on the Packers’ opening offensive series of the game.
But that milepost on road to reconciliation for Favre and the franchise he came to embody during a 16-year run that ended acrimoniously during the summer of 2008 ultimately didn’t happen.
Why is unclear, but two sources said it was Favre’s camp that pulled the plug.
One NFL source told ESPN Wisconsin’s Mark Chmura – Favre’s longtime friend and teammate with the Packers – that Favre backed out of the appearance for fear of being booed by Packers fans, some of whom have not forgiven him for spending his final two seasons with the rival Minnesota Vikings, including a 2009 season that saw Favre beat his former team twice and come within a late NFC Championship Game interception of a Super Bowl berth.
“Brett was confirmed to come up here to a game last year,” Chmura said Sunday on 540 ESPN in Milwaukee and 100.5 ESPN in Madison. “But (he) had to cancel at the last second, a game late in the year. Brett is very afraid of getting booed at Lambeau. And that’s why he’s reluctant to come up.
“He wasn’t going to do anything. There was no coin toss or anything like that. He was just going to go up and watch the game in a box. I think they might’ve shown him on the JumboTron, just to get a [feel] for it.”
According to another source, it was the Packers-Bears game that the sides were discussing as a Lambeau Field return. Although the talks were “serious” and both sides had “good conversation,” Favre and his people ultimately backed away. The source said it was not a fear of being booed that gave Favre pause.
Last week on SiriusXM NFL Radio, Favre struck a hopeful tone about coming back to Green Bay, which he said he hasn’t done since playing for the Vikings in a loss to the Packers there in 2010. But he also made reference to the fans and the idea of “respect” as he spoke about the concept of coming back. Favre, who served as the offensive coordinator at Oak Grove High School in Hattiesburg, Miss., last season, said his team’s schedule was the reason for him not making it back to Titletown.
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Green Bay, and it's not about me. It's not necessarily about them. It's about the fans and respect,” Favre said in an interview with Bruce Murray and Rich Gannon. “When the time is right [it will happen]. They're going to have things to do. They have a season to play. They have to get ready, and I don't want to be a distraction for them.”
“Time heals a lot of things, and I think in this case, you're playing for the rival team, things are going to change. There's no better history than there is in Green Bay – the tradition, and people love their team there, and they usually hate the other team. So when you join their opponent, that's going to happen.
“Again, time heals a lot of things. In fact, I had planned on going up to a game the latter part of the season last year, but my high school team played into December and it just was a conflict. But the relationship is much better.
“It's going to happen, I'll be back up there. Again, my career in Green Bay, I wouldn't trade it for anything. It was awesome. The people were awesome, and I just think everything's going to be fine and in my opinion it is now. It's just a matter of getting back up there.”
Favre is expected to be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the 2016 class, and Packers president Mark Murphy has made it clear that he and the organization want Favre’s No. 4 retired before that happens. Murphy said in April that conversations were positive between the sides.
“I think he’s excited to come back,” Murphy said in March at the NFL Meetings. “It’s really just kind of working out the timing.”
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