Mark Murphy said # packers want to retire Favre’s number in a year or two when it is meaningful to 4
–Lori Nickel, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
May 17, 2012

That sound you heard was my head hitting my desk. Again. Oh, look, another NFL preseason is upon us and, surprise, surprise the topic has once again turned to one Brett Lorenzo Favre. Wait, let me pull out my shocked face.

Before you reach for the Fire Ze Missiles button and go to Defcon 5, you need to take a step back, and deep breath and remember we have all been here before.

And if you want to get precise, Packers President Mark Murphy said almost the exact same thing last year during the 2011 version of the Tailgate Tour:

“Eventually, he’ll come back into the fold. We are going to retire his number. He deserves that for what he did as a Packer. … There are very few players in our history that had their number retired. He deserves it though. But it’s a very, very meaningful honor and we want to do it at a time when it’s meaningful for both him and the organization. I think it’s probably going to be a few years. We want to make sure that he’s really retired first.”

Which brings us to the word of the day that I want you to say with me: Lip Service .

Lip Service
— n
insincere support or respect expressed but not put into practice

Murphy made both statements during the Packers Tailgate Tour. In case you have forgotten, it’s the yearly goodwill ambassador tour that crosses part of the Packer Nation for meet and greets with the extra bonus of effortless publicity. Last year the tour crisscrossed the Upper Penninsula and northern Wisconsin. This year the tour started in La Crosse and hit western destinations including the VA complex in my town. The tour is meant to reach out to fans far and near, old and young under one big tent of Packer happiness.

Let’s face it, Favre has managed to do one thing that no other Packer, past or present, has ever accomplished. He managed to polarize the fanbase into Pro-Favre and those (present company included) that he eventually seeks residence on Uranus. But the Tailgate tour needs to reach out to all facets of the Packer Nation. So it is absolutely no surprise that Mark Murphy keeps promising year after year that Favre will get his moment in the sun.

But at the same time, haven’t you noticed that the Some Day is still very much a moving target.

Talk about playing both sides of the aisle. In a few years really could mean a few years after it is a sure bet that Favre stays retired. It could mean after Aaron Rodgers retires. And it could be be that elusive year some time between now and Hell Freezing over (Stil my preferred date.)

You all know I can’t stand the man. I made that clear last year when this debate came to the fore. I still stand by my opinion that Favre can wait. Whether or not he’s deserving of such a prestigious honor notwithstanding, he can wait. We currently have a Hall of Fame caliber quarterback that may also deserve to have his number retired. But there is no room for both in the spotlight right now. Aaron Rodgers had to sit in Favre’s shadow for three years and still, when moments like this arise, still manages to end up on the Dark Side of Favre. Simply put, it’s Rodgers’ time to shine. The Packer organization owes him that much. The Packers gave Favre 2008 to celebrate his accomplishments and retire his number with fanfare.

Favre had other plans.

Now it (and don’t pretend it won’t happen) gets to be at the Packers’ convenience. If it were up to me it would occur sometime after Rodgers is enshrined in Canton (again, another certainty) and slightly before Hell Freezing over.

It’s an honor to have one’s number retired. It’s something entirely different than being added to the Ring of Honor after induction into the NFL Hall of Fame. Brian Carriveau offers a pretty objective argument why Brett Favre should not be included in the very short list of retired numbers. The Hall of Fame is about one’s accomplishments on the field. To have one’s number set aside forever is a testament to a player’s contribution to the team.

No one can argue that Favre really did some amazing things as a football player. His bust will sit alongside those of Bart Star, Iron Mike Michalske, Johnny Blood McNally, James Lofton as well as his peer Reggie White. But in the end does he deserve that extra honor of being lauded as a Packer?

I’m not sure. Last year I didn’t have a problem retiring his number. But now I’m not sure.

Perhaps Canton is all he deserves. After all, it’s one thing to recognize his accomplishments. But retiring a number is more than that. It’s about contributions to a team. It’s about being that nebulous personification of Packer People. And after all of Favre’s drama–whether it was the vindictiveness of wanting the Bears to crush the Packers in the playoffs leading up to Super Bowl XLV or going out of his way to land with one of the Packers’ arch-rivals. That’s not putting team first. That’s tour of revenge. That’s putting some great years in as the Packers’ quarterback then wiping your ass with the Packer flag as you’re exiting the league. It’s one thing for rewarding my kid for a stellar report card. But would I want to reward her for being obnoxious in the middle of class or picking a fight in the lunch room?

Should that behavior ever be rewarded?

For now, we don’t have to worry. Until it happens–and it won’t for a while–expect Mark Murphy (or his successor if the Stanford rumors are true) to keep offering lip service to both sides of the debate.

Sure, they’ll do something with Favre’s number.

Some Day…


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  • Colleen

    I had always just assumed Favre’s number would be retired at some point. But after reading Brian’s piece, I have to agree with him. If Aaron ends up accomplishing the same type of numbers/awards in his career and keeps his nose clean, not turning into a total a–hole, then he deserves to get HIS number retired. Not BLF.

  • JimR_in_DC

    I would feel better if the Packers just handed out #4 to the next QB rookie that shows up in Green Bay. Let’s just move on from tractor-boy.