There are few people who are able to capture the attention of so many by simply speaking. Usually this honor is reserved for politicians, as the media swarms upon them daily, ensuring that their every word is captured, and later analyzed.
Seldom has this happened with an athlete. With so many that have come and gone, there have been few who are larger than life. Their words and actions recorded with such vigor that every time they speak, fans are almost guaranteed to have an emotion about what was just said. Babe Ruth, Muhammad Ali, Reggie Jackson, Michael Jordan. They are a few examples of athletes who were beyond the scope of normal reporting, and their words and actions transcended the sport they played, and became news worthy every time they spoke.
And then there is Brett Favre.
The mere mention of his name is guaranteed to stir up the emotions of people. Whether you love him or hate him, when someone hears his name being mentioned in a story, people turn in to hear what he has to say. Favre, like the others listed above, are beyond the scope of the sport he played. He has become a transcendent figure in sports.
Because of this, when Green and Gold Today suggested on Friday that their show become a “Favre Free Zone” I had to chuckle. The laughter was not directed at the question, but was because it simply is not possible. Not for Green Bay Packers fans.
Consider this: when you hear Favre’s name, do you smile and think about the years he played in Green Bay? Perhaps you get angry, thinking about the way he left the Packers, and went on to play for the hated Vikings. Maybe your emotions are somewhere in the middle, remembering the good times while being bitter he left in the manner which he did. I’d be willing to bet you fall into one of those categories, even if you don’t want to admit it.
A great example of the power Favre’s name brings occurred yesterday. During the broadcast of the Miller Lite Football Show, Mark Chmura let it be known via an anonymous source that Favre has been trying to contact Aaron Rodgers for several years now, and Rodgers will not take his call. After this was mentioned, Twitter time lines filled up with possible reasons as to why this may be. As Packer fans, we can offer our educated guess as to why this would be, but it wasn't a topic of conversation UNTIL Favre’s name was mentioned on a radio show. After that, it was “all Favre, all the time” for the next few hours anyways.
It is impossible to discuss the Packers without including Favre in the discussion. He is part of our past, both good and bad. He helped bring success back to Green Bay, and later brought heartache. Tears of joy matched by tears of pain. He is a transcendant figure in the history of the Green Bay Packers, and will continue to be. So whether the topic is whether his jersey should be retired, or when he is considering a trip to Green Bay for the Hall of Fame induction for Mike Holmgren, or giving an interview during which he says basically nothing, or a rumor is blurted out on the radio, Favre's name will continue to be mentioned. As a result, a Favre free zone is very unlikely in Packer Nation, and emotions will continue to be stirred every time he speaks.
Maybe one day, after the Packers and Favre kiss and make up, we can all speak freely about Favre at any time, without having to worry if the mention of his name will upset readers and viewers. I sure hope so.
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