Brett Favre, Packers prepare for a magical night.
Green Bay — It took Mason Crosby one game — and three hours — to feel like he truly belonged.
It was the 2007 season opener, and Green Bay’s admittedly nervous rookie kicker had himself quite an NFL debut. Crosby went 3 for 3 against Philadelphia, highlighted by a game-winning, 42-yard field goal with two seconds left that gave Green Bay a 16-13 win.
The next time the Packers took the practice field, Crosby was inducted into the “club.” “I still remember after my first game, coming into practice the next week and I got the patented Brett Favre butt slap,” Crosby said. “That was kind of that moment. It just kind of solidified that I’m here and maybe I belong.”
Favre was awfully good at making teammates feel like they belonged. From superstars like Reggie White, LeRoy Butler and Dorsey Levens to the final man on the roster, Favre made everyone feel like they were part of the team.
It’s who he was. It’s how he operated. Thursday night, the Packers will show Favre where he belongs — with the all-time greats in franchise history. And it’s a night much of Packer Nation has been anticipating for years.
The Packers will unveil Favre’s retired No. 4 during halftime of their game with Chicago. Favre’s name will also be added to the facade in the Lambeau Field Ring of Honor.
This marks the first time in 93 years the Packers will have a home game on Thanksgiving.
And if Favre’s return against archrival Chicago wasn’t enough, the Packers are also optimistic Hall of Fame quarterback Bart Starr will also make a triumphant return to Lambeau Field.
Make no mistake, though, this night is about Favre. And the current Packers that played with him — James Jones, John Kuhn, Aaron Rodgers and Crosby — know what a special night it will be.
“I think this is a great tribute to him, to a guy that put a lot of great years into this organization,” Kuhn said. “He was so important to the rebirth of the Packers, so I think it’s great for him to get his just due, to come back and see his number retired. For that I’m happy for him because he laid a lot of groundwork to chase in here. And that’s a good thing.”
Jones played the 2007 season with Favre, a year in which he made a huge splash with 47 catches. To this day, Jones credits Favre with helping his career take off.
“He was huge for my career, getting my career started,” Jones said. “For him to give me all those opportunities just shows the confidence he had in me. But this is about him and it’s well deserved. He did a lot for this organization and a lot for this league.
“I was only with him for one year, but he’s just a heck of a teammate and an all-time competitor. I’m happy for all the things he’s getting and all the things he accomplished in his career. Knowing the kind of teammate he was and the type of guy he was, it’s well deserved. Glad him and the organization were able to get on the same foot and get this stuff done.”
When Favre returned to Green Bay in July to have his number retired and enter the Packers Hall of Fame, few could have predicted the love fest that unfolded.
For five minutes, the 67,000 fans at Lambeau Field screamed so loud it made Seattle’s Century Link Field feel like a church. They yelled “MVP”, “Come Back Brett” and “One More Year.”
Then Favre said, “All I can say is, ‘Wow. Wow.’ This is absolutely amazing. I don’t have the words to express the feeling coming out of that tunnel. If there were any doubts before, there’s not any. I’m truly thankful.”
That type of emotion and passion came on a Saturday night in July when there wasn’t a game. Imagine what Thursday will be like.
“It’s going to be incredible,” Kuhn said. As it should be. Favre holds virtually every major passing record in team history. He won three straight MVPs and led the Packers to a win in Super Bowl XXXI. And he started a remarkable 275 consecutive games in Green Bay (including playoffs).
More importantly, Favre led a rebirth in a city that hadn’t experienced winning football in a quarter century.
“There’s one thing about this league that’s pretty simple: if you don’t have a quarterback, you don’t have much of a chance,” said former Packers general manager Ron Wolf, who traded for Favre in Feb. 1992. “Well, we didn’t have a quarterback and we had to go and get one.”
That quarterback comes home Thursday night and should be given a heroes welcome from the moment his plane lands at Austin Straubel Airport to the second he heads back to Kiln, Miss.
Favre gave Packers fans one highlight after another for 16 seasons. He played with a youthful exuberance and love of the game few have ever matched.
And his greatness led to a resurgence that helped the Packers create the 80,000-seat monstrosity they call home today.
“The one thing I always heard people say and they still say it today is I never saw someone play football and have more fun than Brett,” Favre said. “And that’s true. It was fun. It was a lot of fun. And I know my teammates would feed on that and the fans fed on it, too. It was fun. That’s how it was. I would have done anything for my team.”
He did just that — and a whole lot more.
Thursday night, the spotlight once again will shine on Brett Lorenzo Favre — arguably the greatest Packer of all-time. For a few short minutes, the world will seem right.
Thursday night, the spotlight once again will shine on Brett Lorenzo Favre — arguably the greatest Packer of all-time.
Former quarterback Brett Favre walks onto Lambeau Field on July 18, when he had his jersey number retired and was inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame.