ROB REIS­CHEL

Packer Plus - - News - Rob Reis­chel

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.

MARK HOFF­MAN / MHOFFMAN@JOUR­NALSEN­TINEL.COM

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.

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