I have to respectfully disagree with coach Mike McCarthy and the team keeping it intact, as it is was during the Packers' organized team activity practices. Even though the Packers legendary quarterback called it a career in March -- albeit with a few public unretirement ruminations afterward -- his nameplate is still above his locker, and his shoulder pads are still on the shelf.
I think that's wrong. It isn't fair to Aaron Rodgers, who has as tough a follow-up gig as anyone has ever had at quarterback in the NFL. Not only is he following a sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Famer, which has been done before, but Rodgers is following a guy who started 275 consecutive games without missing one with an injury, and he's doing it in a town where Favre is a deity.
Rodgers is trying to play with the specter of Favre hovering over him, and there's a tangible reminder of the guy 10 feet away. To bring Favre back for the jersey retirement at the regular-season opener is one thing; to have his locker still there is another.
The subject first came up at the NFL meetings in Palm Beach in April, when McCarthy asked rhetorically, "Would you want that locker? You've got to be kidding me. We're talking about a couple things."
When I saw Favre's locker was still intact at the post-draft rookie orientation camp in early May, I asked about it again.
WILDE: How come Favre's locker is still intact?
McCARTHY: Who do you want me to put in there?
WILDE: I don't know. But isn't it just a locker?
McCARTHY: I think it's more than a locker, and there's some plans for the locker that will be addressed in the future. But there's nothing else to it. I wouldn't want his locker, especially after his hygiene, my goodness. It's a locker of a very special player in the history of our organization, and there are some plans for the future, and we'll address that when it comes. I'll just leave it at that.
While the hygiene line was funny, McCarthy didn't say exactly what the plan for it is. Will they save it for posterity, as the Washington Redskins did with the late Sean Taylor's locker, or the Minnesota Vikings did with the late Korey Stringer's? I don't know.
I still think it's just a locker, and Favre didn't die, he retired. Put ex-University of Wisconsin punter Kenny DeBauche, who grew up in Green Bay, in it, and it's a story for one day. DeBauche talks about how cool it is to have Favre's locker, and then, after that, it's not Favre's locker anymore. It's DeBauche's. And then someone else's down the road.
The approach just seems so incongruous with everything else they've done since the news of Favre's retirement broke on March 4, since everything from planning his jersey retirement to taking two quarterbacks in the draft sends the message that the team is moving on, despite Favre's second-guessing.
This is not to say that Favre doesn't deserve to be celebrated. Just not in this way. His No. 4 will be retired at the season opener, his name will go up in the ring of honor once he's inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and I'm sure there'll be more tributes to him down the road, such as naming a longer street in town for him (right now, he only has "Brett Favre Pass," which essentially runs in front of his restaurant and nowhere else).
But if they want to leave the locker intact, why not take it out of the locker room altogether and move it to the Packers Hall of Fame?
While Rodgers handled the 35-minute Q&A session at his locker with aplomb, the only two times he bristled were when I asked him about being labeled "injury-prone," since he doesn't like the term and Favre's track-record makes it difficult to follow him in that area, and when I asked him about the locker.
"C'mon, Jay," Rodgers replied. "What do you want me to do about it? I don't care."
Whether his answer would've been different off the record, I don't know. All I know is if I were Rodgers, it'd bother me. I'm not Rodgers, and it does.
Jason Wilde, a Milwaukee native who graduated from Greendale Martin Luther High School and the University of Wisconsin, is a two-time Associated Press Sports Editors award winner and a Wisconsin Newspaper Association award winner.