GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers had a very good reason for presenting an award with Brett Favre at Saturday night’s NFL Honors event: The Packers quarterback wanted to bury the hatchet with the now-retired three-time NFL MVP who topped him on Green Bay’s depth chart for three seasons.
For the past five years since becoming the Packers’ starting quarterback, Rodgers has barely mentioned Favre’s name. It was a topic as contentious as the relationship between the two had become late in their time together while sharing the same uniform.
But all of that is over now.
“As the face of the franchise, a role I take very seriously, I think it’s important to realize that it’s time to probably move forward,” Rodgers said Tuesday on his ESPN Wisconsin radio show. “It was good to talk to Brett on the phone and then spend some time with him. It was fun to present with Brett.
“I thought it was good timing to just let the fans know, let Brett know, let’s move forward. Let’s heal things up and move forward.”
Rodgers and Favre presented the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year award on Saturday night to Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, but not before a comedic — partly scripted, partly ad-libbed — exchange on stage.
Favre: “You know, Aaron, everyone loves it when a great player makes a comeback.”
Rodgers: “Yeah, but not always. Some people wish great players would just retire and stay retired.”
Favre: “Good to see you, too, Aaron.”
The two shook hands and almost hugged twice before Rodgers said, “That was awkward.”
But, according to Rodgers three days later, it really wasn’t awkward at all.
“We had talked about the lines a number of times, how we wanted to do it,” Rodgers said on his radio show. “We thought about a hug, maybe saying, ‘It’s too soon.’ I thought it’s what we were going to do and then Brett didn’t come in for the hug.
“The irony of me saying ‘That was awkward,’ is some people watching might think that, but I really had a good time seeing him and catching up with him and there was nothing awkward about that moment for the two of us.
“That moment, I had a lot of people writing, ‘It was an awkward moment,’ but that’s kind of the joke in that statement is that there wasn’t a lot of awkwardness at all for Brett and me.”
Rodgers, who said he is a friend of the producers of the awards show, was asked a week prior to the event if he’d be willing to present on stage with Favre. And, after some contemplation, it didn’t take much for him to agree.
“I thought about it for a little bit but felt strongly that it’d be a good thing for both of us and for Packers nation,” Rodgers said on his radio show. “It didn’t take a lot of coaxing for me to do it. I didn’t want to sit and think about it and make sure it was the right thing to do. I feel very secure in my position with the team and what we’ve accomplished in my five years as a starter.
“Brett is two years removed from the game, and he’s going to be in the Packer Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It’s important that he’s recognized for all the accomplishments he’s achieved. He’s very dear to many of our fans still. As the face of the franchise, I felt that it was important to take a leadership role in that.”
Favre said during his appearance on the NFL Network leading up to the Super Bowl that he had “no ill feelings” toward Rodgers.
“I’m not going to get a whole lot into that,” Rodgers said on ESPN Wisconsin when asked about those comments. “I’m not here to talk about the past. I feel like it’s important to move forward. I feel great about where I’m at in my career and the things we’ve accomplished as a team, and personally. When you get older in this league, and now Donald (Driver) is retiring tomorrow, I’m going to be the longest tenured Packer, which is crazy to think about.
“I was just drafted by the Packers eight years ago and now I’ve seen a lot of guys come and go. It makes you think about your legacy. Hopefully we can lock something up in the next couple years and keep me in Green Bay for my career. So, I think about how I want to be remembered.”
As the relationship between Rodgers and Favre is discussed in the future, Saturday night’s public reconciliation will be the moment the two officially put a rocky past behind them.