Ex-teammates welcome Favre, Packers reunion
Brett Favre is coming home to the Green Bay Packers, and those who played with the three-time MVP quarterback couldn't be happier for the reunion.
"I feel like some people will cry, that's how I feel," cornerback Jarrett Bush said Monday. "Some people are so passionate about No. 4 and Brett Favre."
The Packers announced Monday that Favre, 44, will be the lone inductee into the Packers' Hall of Fame and have his No. 4 jersey retired in July 2015.
Bush is one of six players on the Packers' current roster who played alongside Favre during the end of his 16 seasons in Green Bay and also witnessed his messy divorce from the organization in the summer of 2008.
During the good times, Favre was seen as the man who brought the Lombardi Trophy back to the Packers after nearly 30 years. In the dark days, many viewed him as a traitor who crossed enemy lines out of vengeance and ego.
The veterans who spoke to the media Monday — Bush, cornerback Tramon Williams, fullback John Kuhn and kicker Mason Crosby — lived through both sides of it and agree the time is right for Favre's return to the organization.
"I feel like some people say he didn't go out with a lot of class, but at the end of the day, he was just trying to play football," Bush said. "As any guy trying to provide for his family, he felt like he had more energy in the tank and he wanted to play the game. You can't knock him for that."
The Favre saga began with his decision to come out of brief retirement in August 2008, causing a lengthy meeting between Packers coach Mike McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson to decide how the organization would proceed.
The Packers pressed forward with Aaron Rodgers as their quarterback and traded Favre to the New York Jets for a third-round pick that helped land four-time Pro Bowl outside linebacker Clay Matthews in the 2009 NFL draft.
Favre played one season with the Jets before briefly retiring again. He then signed with the rival Minnesota Vikings, winning his first two games against Green Bay and leading the Vikings to the NFC Championship game in 2009.
Favre lost his final two encounters with the Packers during an injury-shortened 2010 season, his 20th and final campaign. The veterans who played in those four games remember them for their excitement and intensity.
Favre's 2009 season was one of the best of his career and his 135.9 quarterback rating against the Packers opened Williams' eyes to how special of a quarterback he was.
"When I first played him, when he came to Minnesota, I felt that that was the first time that I realized, 'OK, this is what a great quarterback is,' " Williams said. "He came in and he played well."
The icy tension between the Packers and Favre started to thaw in February 2013 when he and Rodgers presented the NFL comeback player of the year award to Denver quarterback Peyton Manning.
Packers team president Mark Murphy has said on many occasions that the plan has always been to retire Favre's number, but there was some concern recently on how Favre would be met by Packers' fans when he finally returns to Lambeau Field.
His former teammates have no such concern. Those surveyed said they expect fans to receive Favre with open arms.
"Obviously the ending to his career with him going to Minnesota and those things are going to stick with some people," Williams said. "But he's done too much for the organization and everyone in the community, it's a good thing that they decided to do this now. I think everyone's going to applaud him."
Crosby describes the mood of the post-Favre locker room in 2008 as "kind of a circus" and "wild" at first, but he always thought of him as a Packer even during his stints with the Jets and Vikings.
Although the parting was far from amicable, Favre left plenty of memories for those who remained. Williams smiled when reflecting on his time as a practice-squad player in 2006 when a jubilant Favre often would clown around with the rookie.
Kuhn, who was claimed off waivers from Pittsburgh in 2007, played only one season with Favre, but the Packers' 13-3 record and charge to the NFC Championship game is something he won't soon forget.
"He's a great guy that played for some really memorable teams and played obviously for a long time," said Kuhn, referring to Favre's 20 NFL seasons and 297 consecutive starts. "He holds a bunch of records and he's involved in a whole history of Packer time, and it's a good thing that they're going to get it done."
Now, Favre will take his place alongside the most revered players in Packers' history, including close friends Frank Winters, Mark Chmura, former head coach Mike Holmgren and general manager Ron Wolf.
Six years removed from one of the most turbulent times in franchise history, the road to reconciliation between the Packers and Favre finally appears to be open.
"It was inevitable," Crosby said. "He's a Packer great and he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. It was just going to take a little time to get everybody to kind of forget about some of the stuff that went on. I'm glad it's happening. He deserves all the honors he gets."
— firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @WesHod