Before you read this column, you need to know two things about my situation. Number 1: I was born in Milwaukee and raised in northern Wisconsin. I am a Packer fan. Number 2: Hanging inour living room is a gift my wife and I received on our wedding day. It is a plaque with a Viking helmet on one side and a Packer helmet on the other with the words “Home of a Mixed Marriage” and our wedding date inscribed.
Like any selfless Packer fan living in the middle of enemy territory, I was most concerned with the well being of my three children. Two summers ago they were at the formative ages of 7, 5, and 3. I sensed a tentativeness in their allegiance, and had to formulate a plan immediately. I convinced my wife that it was a good idea for a portion of our summer vacation to include a tour of Lambeau Field.
This, I learned, would be a crucial moment for my three malleable youth. It was clarified in the minds of my three children where their loyalties should lie when we toured the Packer Hall of Fame.
My middle child was intent on “seeing the trophies.” We walked (as much as three children that age can “walk” anywhere) through the entire Hall of Fame trailing my five year old who was on a crusade to “see the trophies.” Near the end of the Hall, he beat us into the last room. The remaining four of us heard him loudly whisper “whooooow” in awe.
We entered the darkened room, and there, with three spotlights reflecting their brilliance, were the three Lombardi trophies won by the Packers. We all stood quietly in reverence. The silence was broken when my five year old asked, “Dad, can we see these in Minnesota?”
Their loyalties were forever solidified with my answer, “No, son, you can’t.”
That January, we watched the Packers lose in the NFC championship to the Giants. My 7-year old’s friend said, “This is the worst day of my life,” and none of my children disagreed.
That spring, I watched all three of my children cry when Brett Favre tearily announced his retirement from the Packers. Everything was as it should be in my household.
Then, Favre had the ugly split from Green Bay when he wanted to come back. The Packer fans in the house were able to live with that because Aaron Rodgers is a good quarterback, and Favre was playing with the Jets, so it didn’t affect our lives too much.
But this month the bomb hit and now Favre, who my children loved and even my wife respected just three years ago, is a Viking.
What is our house to make of this now?
Four-fifths of our house can’t cheer for Favre because he is in Purple, and the other fifth of our house who likes the Vikings isn’t particularly fond of how Favre has handled himself over the last two years.
My wife and I just wish he would go away (me more than her), but he will be at the center of attention every NFL Sunday this season.
My nine year old “isn’t a big fan of Favre being a Viking at all.”
My seven year old thinks “he should retire and stay retired.”
My five year old (our only daughter), when asked her opinion answered, “No. What do you think? I want to be with what Dad thinks.” If only that attitude would last another 10 to 15 years.
The only people with anything to lose here are the Vikings and households such as mine. It has ended badly for Favre at his last two stops. His last game as a Packer was one of his worst, playing poorly while Green Bay lost the NFC championship game in overtime.
He started off great in New York but ended the season injured and playing very poorly. He is primed for a similar exit from Minnesota as he already has a tear in his rotator cuff and a bad left knee and ankle. If he fails to bring the Vikings to a Super Bowl, it may leave a lasting scar on the franchise – after all, where do they go for a quarterback next year?
This is what makes my wife nervous. The greatest quarterback in Packer history leading Minnesota to a Super Bowl makes the rest of us nervous.
Favre has nothing to lose with his return. His legacy and place in history is secure. Years from now, people will only remember his years in Green Bay. After all, we remember Michael Jordan as a Bull, not in his ill-advised return to the Wizards. Willie Mays is still remembered as possibly the greatest baseball player of all time for the Giants, not as the shadow of his former self he was at the end of his career with the Mets.
So, as Packer fans, the majority of our house believes a couple of things: (1) Minnesota, you can have Favre now. We had him for his best 17 seasons, and (2) Green Bay still has the better quarterback right now. That is what we tell ourselves, but if Brett Favre (the greatest quarterback in Packer history) is hoisting the Lombardi trophy (named after the greatest coach in Packer history) at the end of the Super Bowl wearing Viking purple, the irony will be too much to bear.
The worst part is that the most important one-fifth of our house will be happy; and if she’s happy, we’re all supposed to be happy.