Brett Favre will be inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame Saturday signaling a Mother Theresa moment that only two other huge state athletes have experienced.
His is the latest example of the forgiving nature of people in Wisconsin, especially sports fans. This state doesn’t hold grudges.
Favre, in the minds of most people, snubbed Wisconsin and the Packers when he retired, unretired, retired again, unretired again and then bolted to join first the New York Jets and then, even worse, the hated Minnesota Vikings.
His betrayal was equal to the departures – with bad feelings – of two other icons of Milwaukee and Wisconsin sports.
The first major divorce came when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar left the Milwaukee Bucks in 1975 in a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers. The second was when Paul Molitor jumped to the Toronto Blue Jays in 1992.
And then came Favre.
He left after the 2007 season and it was messy, with Favre trying to come back to the team, which by then had committed to Aaron Rodgers. Then, before the trade to the Jets was completed, the Packers blocked Favre from talking with other teams.
Favre wanted to keep playing but it wasn’t going to be in Green Bay and Packers Nation was divided, with a sizable portion growing to hate what may be the greatest and most exciting quarterback to ever play in Green Bay, or anywhere else.
Abdul-Jabbar’s was probably the most insulting of the departures. There was no dispute about money or playing time or anything that had to do with the Bucks.
He wanted out because Milwaukee wasn’t a place where he could exercise his cultural desires. In plain language he just didn’t like living in Milwaukee half the year and wanted to go to someplace more cosmopolitan, like New York or Los Angeles.
Abdul-Jabbar went on to become the all-time scoring leader in the NBA with a great career with the Lakers.
Monitor left in a contract dispute. He was a free agent and wanted to stay with the Brewers but the team asked him to take a salary cut, and he left for Toronto.
Molitor quickly became an offensive juggernaut. He hit .332 with 22 home runs and 111 RBI. Returning to the playoffs for the first time since 1982, he was a key part of the Blue Jays' second World Series title.
Favre poured lighter fluid on the embers of his relationship with Wisconsin sports fans when he signed with the Vikings. His first year, the Vikings went 12-5 and made it to the NFC title game when they lost to the New Orleans Saints, who eventually won the Super Bowl. Favre played one more season for the Vikings before injuries took their toll and he retired for good with a pocket full of all-time records.
Abdul-Jabbar’s jersey was retired in 1993 and Molitor’s in 1999. And it is now time for Favre to go into the Packers Hall of Fame and he will have his jersey retired during the season when the Packers play the Chicago Bears Nov. 26.
The Packers sold all 67,000 tickets for fans to watch this Saturday's ceremony, which will be televised live by the NFL Network and the Packers television network. It will stream live at packers.com.
Favre, who recently said that he wanted to be "remembered as a Packer," is expected to address the crowd. It promises to be an emotional event as Favre gets honored and we do, too, as charitable and forgiving sports fans.
With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.
He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.
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Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.