Sailing the Seas of Cheese: Playing Chicken with a Train
We all have that one, irritating family member. You know, the crazy drunk uncle, obnoxious blustering cousin, or the long-suffering self-styled martyr of a mother-in-law that you know will turn everything into about how you have slighted her for the past twenty years that you cringe at the thought of sharing the same room with any of them. Thanksgiving, do you invite them? Do you try to squeeze them out and say you want a smaller, immediate family gathering? Do you send them a Christmas card this year, or do cross them off the list once and for all and hope they don’t notice?
You know you’re going to run into Uncle Al or your wife’s crazy mom at one point or another. It’s going to be awkward. It’ll probably suck regardless of what you do. It’s like walking through a mine field. You could get through the encounter luckily, and completely unscathed. Or, you could totally get your leg blown off. But if you play your cards right, you can put on those big boy (or girl in my case) pants and set the tone for future interactions where you aren’t painted the intolerant bad guy.
It’s no surprise that Brett Favre is that crazy relative the Green Bay Packers have been holding safely at an arm’s distance. Well, that is until now. John Rehor illustrates the need to get this process moving forward quite well in his guest column over at Dick’s Favorite Blog. Rehor writes:
If Favre is indeed trying to get back into the good graces of Packers fans, this would be an ideal situation to come home, if only for one day, and give thanks to the coach who gave him a chance to play. The coach who told him to ease up on the rocket balls. The coach who led the team to Super Bowl glory, and in turn helped make them both all time legends. It would be a relatively safe environment for a return to Green Bay, as the attendees are more than likely not going to make a celebratory dinner a We Hate Brett Favre rally.
John’s jaw may drop with this, but I really agree with him. It’s a way to ease back into the Packers fold or prove once and for all that he’s not willing for any sort of meaningful reconciliation.
Until now, both sides have acted less than admirably when it has come to the Packers-Favre divorce. But as John mentioned, the Packers are offering the proverbial olive branch to Favre. Afterall, if there is a stalemate mired in bitterness, someone has to make the first move, and whoever does holds the high ground for eternity.
By inviting Favre to Holmgren’s induction to the Packers Hall of Fame, the organization is solidifying their role as the grown ups by actively taking that first step. No one has to like Brett. No one has to forget that he was offering inside information to anyone and everyone in the NFC after his departure. Nor does anyone have to forgive him for cheering on the Bears to pound the snot out of the Packers in the NFC championship game back in 2011. But there is no mistaking the gesture that the Packer family is inviting crazy Uncle Brett and all of his baggage to Christmas dinner.
And just like Aunt Betty, you’d hear about how you didn’t invite her to Christmas for the next fifteen years even if she had no intentions of ever showing up and bringing a dish to pass.
The ball is now officially in Brett’s court. It’s a brilliant tactical move if you ask me. It is now his very public choice whether or not to accept the offer. If he agrees, he’s showing on some level that he is willing to move toward a more mature interaction with his past employer.
But if he declines, he tells the world he is not ready to shed his bitterness, that the problem with this very fractured relationship is solely his. He is now fully responsible for setting the tone of any future interactions while the Packers have gone on record taking the high road from that moment on.
Quite frankly, by inviting him to an event that is, well, not really about him, and about another Packers legend who departed (albeit under less acrimonious circumstances) the Packers also send the message that leaving the family, in itself, is not grounds for complete disassociation like Katie Holmes is about to experience with her soon-to-be ex-husband and his relgious leanings. They are publicly declaring that they are willing to welcome the prodigal sons back into the fold and that leaving the family is not grounds for excommunication from the Cathedral of Vince. Holmgren is already coming home. He’s still family.
The question remains: what will Brett do?
The Packers are playing chicken with a pretty big train but it doesn’t look like they are going to be the first to flinch.