The welcome-home tsunami of emotion that has been washing over Cleveland since LeBron James announced he was returning to his hometown Cavaliers isn’t quite being matched by the sentiments toward Brett Favre in Green Bay.
Packers President Mark Murphy told reporters last week that the team wouldn’t be retiring Favre’s No. 4 this year. Murphy acknowledged that one of the reasons was simply that Favre would likely face booing by the fans he inspired during his storied career in Green Bay, even though none other than Aaron Rodgers is on record as favoring closure to the Favre-Green Bay rift that developed around his lurching exit from the Packers (which saw him end his career with the Minnesota Vikings).
Probably the Green Bay feelings wouldn’t ever reach LeBron’ian levels if only because James is from the Cleveland region, while Favre is from Mississippi. More important, while James in his absence played for the Eastern Conference Miami Heat against Cleveland, Favre gave off the vibe that he expressly wanted to finish playing against the Packers, which he did.
Favre may be voted into the NFL Hall of Fame (he’s eligible in two more years) before he’s admitted to the Lambeau Field Ring of Honor. But as Rodgers said on “The Jim Rome Show,” "I think our country and the state of Wisconsin, these people are people of second, third and fourth chances, and I think it's time to let the healing process begin for those who are still upset about what went down.”
Consider: If Jim McMahon walks out onto Soldier Field, he is hailed as a returning hero even though he played for both the Vikings and the Packers — beating the Bears both times. But McMahon was traded away, rather than Favre’s manner of egress.
Credit Rodgers with a significant statement of integrity and respect. It was Rodgers who was whipsawed in the Favre retirement chaos in 2008 and who didn’t always get complete support from Favre. But the high road is usually the right road, and Rodgers showed why he is more than just a leader on a football field.