As the boos rained down on Vikings quarterback Brett Favre, NBC Sunday Night Football announcers Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth tried to give viewers a little history lesson, reminding Packers fans who were booing Favre off the field that the legendary Vince Lombardi also left the team (in 1969, to coach the Washington Redskins).
Well done, fellas. Do you really think the situation is similar? Let's try and review ...
Last time I checked the history books, Lombardi didn't hem and haw and play games for five years deciding to retire. Lombardi didn't throw a hissy fit when the general manager didn't work out a deal for a player.
Lombardi didn't come back after retiring and demand his job back from Phil Bengtson. Lombardi also didn't try and force his way onto the Packers' biggest rival.
Sorry, boys, completely different circumstances. Lombardi stepped down after winning three consecutive championships to allow Bengtson to take over as his hand-picked successor. He became the general manager for a year before getting the itch to return to the sidelines.
There was no grandstanding. There was no skipping training camp. There were no media circuses. There was no drama. There were also a lot more championships.
Michaels mentioned that Curly Lambeau, too, left the Packers to coach the Chicago Cardinals. This, too, is in need a of a little clarification.
Lambeau's Packers were in sharp decline after Don Hutson retired in 1945. A year later, Lambeau made a lot of enemies on the team's executive board when he spent a fortune to purchase a team training facility (Rockwood Lodge). He had also tried, during a stock sale, to lead an effort to change the Packers' non-profit status and get several large backers to buy up a bulk of the team's stock.
All of those factors came into play when Lambeau departed in 1950 and set out to coach the Cardinals.
Neither Lambeau's or Lombardi's departures came close to the feeling of heartbreak and betrayal. Nor did either man try to "stick it" to anybody in the Green Bay organization, though Lombardi, somewhat privately, cared little for Lambeau.
Anyway, just wanted to clear this up. Not that it matters, as the networks will continue to fawn over and defend Favre until the bitter end.