Sailing the Seas of Cheese: Not Letting Him Live Rent Free
Like we all know, time heals pretty much everything and I think I’ve made numerous statements in regards to Green Bay and how I feel. My 16 years in Green Bay I wouldn’t trade for anything. It was fun, we were good and if there was one wish I could have it would be that we won more
–Brett Favre, June 13, 2013
SiriusXM NFL Radio Interview
There’s been a lot of talk–and I’ll admit some very good arguments–by many writers that it is time to bury the hatchet and welcome Green Bay’s prodigal son back into the Green and Gold fold. After all, Brett Favre is one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play in the NFL. That has never been the issue. After all, he was one of the driving forces that brought the Packers back to greatness after thirty years of nothing but embarrassment. That said, it would be exceptionally petty to sweep that level of greatness under the rug and pretend it never happened.
Trading for Favre was a fitting bookend to the disastrous 1974 John Hadl trade that very well may have saddled the Packers with no talent for years. (If you have no idea who John Hadl was, consider what would’ve happened to fate of the Atlanta Falcons had Julio Jones been absolute bust.)
The Packers got one quarterback for a song who brought the Vince Lombardi Trophy after a nearly thirty year absence. The other one was traded for everything and the kitchen sink–the first, second and third round draft choices in 1974 and the first and second round draft choices in 1975. The Packers gave away five draft choices for a mind-numbing 6 touchdowns and even more embarrassing 21 interceptions in that 1976 season.
So I don’t question Favre’s impact on the Packers. I don’t question his legacy on the field. But I have to be honest, I question his intentions and the sudden change in attitude.
I wrote about this back in February. By both Aaron Rodgers as the face of the franchise and Mark Murphy as the embodiment of Packers, Inc inviting Brett Favre back into family after five years of icy distance, they have claimed the moral high ground from that point forward. The didn’t have to forget that Favre actively and very publicly cheered for the Bears to knock the Packers out of Super Bowl contention in 2010 as part of his revenge tour. They didn’t have to forget how Brett Favre finally admitted that he signed on to the Vikings to specifically stick it to general manager Ted Thompson.
Who can forget the quote, “Part of me coming back last year, I have to admit now, was sticking it to Ted.”
I doubt anyone in the front office–especially Uncle Ted himself–will ever forget that admission of contempt. I know I certainly won’t.
Or what about the sudden 180 he has taken in his attitude toward Aaron Rodgers? You know, that guy Favre was surprised lollygagged forever before winning a Super Bowl ring. What took him so long–that guy? After all, in 2005 he famously declared, “It’s not my job to get him ready to play…It’s his job. My contract doesn’t say I have to get Aaron Rodgers ready to play. Now, hopefully he watches me and gets something from that, either good or bad…and it helps him have a great career. I’m not obligated one bit to help anyone.”
But now he’s singing another tune. Last night Favre appeared to be leading the brigade to blow sunshine up Rodger’s rear and sing his praises like a gushing father beaming with pride that his little boy has made it big. Revisionist history or a little burying of the proverbial hatchet?
What I think we are seeing is that moral high ground that the Packers claimed this spring. By doing so, Favre legacy is now solely in one man’s hands–Brett Favre’s. Aaron Rodgers let bygones be bygones and extended his hand this past February. Of course Favre isn’t going to slap it away with another round of back-handed comments about his successor. If he accepts the olive branch (which he appears to be doing) he is quickly welcomed back into the fold as a hero. His number will be retired, the crowds will cheer, blah, blah blah. If he continues playing the Hatfield to the Packer McCoy, he will be remembered as the bitter jackass that crapped all over the Packer Nation, forever the shadow overtaking his legacy on the field.
As for me, it is still the same Brett Favre but with perhaps a little better PR spit and polish cleaning him up than he has had before. If you look at the picture at the top of this article, I think it sums up Brett Favre the best for me–a black baseball cap with a #4 not affiliated to anyone. No team. No loyalty. Just Brett. He puts forward a brand that is one brand alone: Brett Favre, Inc. He’ll say and do what is necessary to forward that brand. And to snub an obvious olive branch likely doesn’t do anything to promote it.
Is that pessimistic of me to say that? Probably. But at this point in my life, I’ve seen enough hucksters trying to sell something that I am leery of the sudden about face that it raises the hairs on my neck. Then again, he may have actually bought into his own brand of bollocks and is ready to return home.
Regardless of whether his contrition is genuine or not, at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter. In his own Brett Favre-ian way, he’s publicly taking ownership of the problems he’s caused and 1265 Lombardi. To paraphrase a friend: when someone apologizes, does it really need to have any bells and whistles other than the words “I’m sorry”?
He’s admitted guilt. He is asking us to forgive him and welcome him back. Even he isn’t ready at this juncture as he’s already pointed out this is not a process that anyone needs to rush.
As I wrote about before, one can accept an apology and forgive without forgetting or accepting everything that has transpired previously:
Forgiveness does not mean forgetting. It doesn’t mean ignoring the pain and anger. And it doesn’t mean you have to personally like someone. Forgiveness is about moving forward, not looking behind you. Forgiveness is about letting go and not being consumed by that pain and anger. It’s not just about extending a hand or offering the olive branch. It is being mature enough to accept one. It’s about accepting contrition when it is offered and not shutting the door to future conversations.
Will I ever like Brett Favre? Probably not. And whether that labels me a hater from here to eternity is neither here nor there. But somewhere along the line I have come to realize that it best for the Green Bay Packers as well a the fans that this 600 pound gorilla in the room can no longer be ignored. Forgiveness is not about letting go of feelings, because–let’s face it–forgetting things is nigh on impossible. It is time to set the past behind us and move on. And if the Packers and Rodgers can wear the big boy pants and be mature about it, perhaps even bittercakes me should be able.
The more I think about forgiveness, it’s about letting go. It’s about moving on. It is so much easier in life to look forward than look back with anger or regret. Forgiveness is not about rolling over and bearing a vulnerable belly in an act of submission. It is not excusing transgressions that have occurred. It’s being mature enough to take another at their word and move forward. That relationship doesn’t have to be as it was before. It may not heal all wounds.
Forgiveness is about not letting those transgressions have that stranglehold around you any more. It’s as much about setting one’s self free as it is to forgive those who have wounded us.
Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers have figured it out. And it likely is very liberating. We as individuals are on different paths in life. Our personal experiences, whatever they are, will steer us in different directions. Some are ready to welcome him back like nothing wrong ever happened. Others it may take longer to come to the end of that journey. Some may never head down that path. And some, like myself, will question intentions and motives and slowly head toward that liberating sense of forgiveness.
Regardless of what path we chose, it doesn’t make any of us less of a (so help me God, if I never hear this term again, it will be too soon) True Fan.
As I wrap up this column, I want to quote an excerpt from The Shack. It appears that William Paul Young summed up this concept of a cautious but liberating forgiveness better than I ever could:
Forgiveness is not about forgetting. It is about letting go of another person’s throat…Forgiveness does not create a relationship. Unless people speak the truth about what they have done and change their mind and behavior, a relationship of trust is not possible. When you forgive someone you certainly release them from judgment, but without true change, no real relationship can be established…Forgiveness in no way requires that you trust the one you forgive. But should they finally confess and repent, you will discover a miracle in your own heart that allows you to reach out and begin to build between you a bridge of reconciliation…Forgiveness does not excuse anything…You may have to declare your forgiveness a hundred times the first day and the second day, but the third day will be less and each day after, until one day you will realize that you have forgiven completely.