Brett Favre's return to Green Bay will be 'a real passion play
Do you want to finish your career here? Peter King
Definitely. If in two years, say, they want to trade me, Id probably walk away. Retire. Brett Favre
Whether its a politician or a pro athlete, its hard to hold someone accountable for statements uttered in a different context.
Yet how you choose to interpret Brett Favres dusted-off words from a Sports Illustrated column nine years ago also could determine whether youll openly applaud or brazenly boo the Green Bay Packers legend when he exits the Lambeau Field visitors tunnel on Sunday.
Surely, Favre followers will find comfort in No. 4s affirmation, noting that his devotion to the Packers was so pronounced prior to General Manager Ted Thompsons tenure that he would have happily ridden off into the sunset with a green-and-gold cape tattooed to his back.
For those who feel betrayed by Favres purple reign in Minnesota, his previous give-me-Packers-or-give-me-death insinuation only pushes the knife deeper.
No matter which way you view Sundays proceedings, one thing from this sordid Shakespearean drama is certain.
As a celebrated Friend of Favre since the time No. 4 wore braces, Peter King probably has exchanged more text messages with the future Hall of Famer than anyone in the sports media. And neither he, nor Favre, nor Thompson, nor anybody in Green Bay, Minneapolis or Kiln, Miss., could have predicted that a man synonymous with Titletowns return to prominence would be donning Vikings purple at Lambeau Field.
I think he was positive hed never play for another team. Positive, King said. I never thought there was a question about that, either. I mean, I really thought, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that hed finish his career in Green Bay.
But I also think thats one of the reasons why you just never say never. You never make an absolute statement anymore. Especially with Favre, who we probably all should have figured is a guy you were going to have to rip the uniform off of.
The Favre quote, from a December 2000 column called Out on the Range with Brett Favre, is among several archived entries in Kings new book, Monday Morning Quarterback (Sports Illustrated; 256 pages; $25.95).
Named after his widely read column at Sports Illustrated.com, its a compilation dotted with several intriguing odes to Green Bay from Kings appreciation for Wisconsin hospitality to his fondness for local landmarks like Nickys Lionhead Tavern, the Union Hotel and, of course, Lambeau Field, which he names his favorite NFL stadium.
But make no mistake about it. King often came to our humble neck of the woods for a reason. And to not talk about a certain former quarterback prior to Sundays monumental clash would be a disservice to not only Favres folk-hero status in Wisconsin, but also to the magnitude of his fall from grace among some Packers loyalists.
Its a real passion play, this second game, said King, who also works on NBCs Football Night in America crew. I thought the first one was interesting just because it was Favre playing the Packers. But this second game in Green Bay is going to be very interesting theater.
Now, well find out if all the people who were huge Packers fans will turn the page and either be sort of respectful, and maybe even appreciative of what Favre did, which I doubt will happen in the game. From what Ive gathered from people I know in Green Bay, I think the boo-birds will definitely be out. I kind of think Brett will hear it.
Long accused by fans and fellow journalists of favoring Favre, King addressed his status as a purported apologist both in the book and on the phone, saying, Did I cover a lot of seminal events in recent Packers history that included Brett Favre? Did I celebrate those events and him? Absolutely.
Ive tried to be honest and honorable all these years.
Blemishes and all, Favre allowed King into his circle. The two often had dinner together. Text messages were routinely exchanged. And like everyone else, once retirement reports began leaking, rampant speculation led to several predictions in Kings column ones, that he humorously noted, were wrong every time.
Yet as proof that Favres annual will-he, wont-he drama could eventually erode even his staunchest support base, this latest round with the Vikings led King to write in August, Favres the wishy-washiest player in memory and the Vikings are his enablers. Its ridiculous.
I think a lot of people were surprised by that (comment.) But it was all because of one thing, King said. Two and a half weeks before he came back, or maybe three weeks, he told me on the phone, very emotionally, I cant do it. I want to do this more than anything, but if I come back, Im not going to make it. Ive been working out hard on my own, but it feels like Ive played a game. I just dont think I can do it.
So it was all based on that And look, I absolutely dont want him to fail. But Im just saying, using his words, and then three weeks later he comes back and everybody is like, Oh yeah, yeah, hes healthy it was just disingenuous, both on the part of the Vikings and on the part of Favre.
Because he no longer travels on Sundays due to his NBC studio duties, King wont be in the press box for one of the most eagerly anticipated games in Lambeau Field history.
Hed love to be in the locker room to get reaction from an old friend who has provided him with priceless quotes before. But if the first round in Minnesota was any indication, it might be a mixed bag for whichever side proves the victor fans included.
I think Brett thought it would feel so great after a game like that, but I also think it was a little bit difficult because he has so many friends on that team, King said about talking with Favre in the Metrodome tunnel after the Oct. 5 game in Minneapolis.
Its easy to say, I cant wait to play the Packers, I cant wait to beat them, or whatever he felt deep down inside. But I didnt really sense any of that revenge, that he was so glad to have beaten the Packers. Maybe privately at home he felt that way, but he didnt pass any of that along to me.