Debate begins over how to greet Favre in Green Bay

OK, so the mayor of Green Bay wants a Top 4 list of ways to welcome Brett Favre back to town. Should be lots of fun, especially since most politicians have a great sense of humor.

Besides, as long as the annual fall leaf collection program continues to go smoothly, the good citizens of the NFL’s quaintest burg have plenty of time before Nov. 1 to come up with some “tasteful” suggestions.

Already, those who wear cheese on their heads are weighing in, with mixed results.

Put a big No. 4 waffle on display? How cute.

Play a continuous loop of his interceptions with the Packers on the stadium video? So predictable.

Name a street after him? Already been done.

Hang him in effigy outside Lambeau Field? That might not fit the mayor’s definition of “tasteful.”

But, really, what do you do for someone you once loved who now plays for your hated rival? Even the most devoted Cheeseheads seem to be having a hard time figuring this one out.

Wear flip-flops? How would Favre know?

Do a reverse Lambeau Leap on him the first time he gets near the end zone? Just remember, he’s the one wearing the helmet.

Paint big red “X’s” on his old replica jerseys? Hey, those things cost money.

Give him the world’s biggest group hug? You know he’ll just start crying again.

The mayor is going to wish he had never thought of dusting off the suggestion box for this one. Breakups are hard enough, especially if the guy you broke up with returns with every intention of rubbing your nose in it.

Short of painting a flying saucer green and gold and hiring the balloon boy to drop in during Favre’s first series, there aren’t a whole lot of good options.

Except for this one: Give him a standing ovation.

OK, so it may hurt a bit. Giving anyone in purple any props at Lambeau would hurt a bit.

But the quarterback formerly known as No. 4 did give Green Bay a Super Bowl win. He did give Packer fans a lot of moments to help make it through many long, unbearable winters.

They bought his jerseys. They cheered every time he looked deep downfield.

A lot of them probably cried along with him when he announced his retirement – the first time, at least.

They had a lot invested in him emotionally over 16 years. And now that he’s playing for the Vikings, he acts like he never hugged any of them.

But it’s nothing personal, at least on his part. There was never a grand plan devised by Favre to come back and haunt the very people who shared in his rise to greatness.

If he hadn’t imploded in the last part of the season for the New York Jets, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.

To understand Favre’s motives, you have to understand this: He’s basically an overgrown kid who gets his kicks playing football and he’ll do it until the day either his right arm finally falls off or he can’t find a team willing to pay him to take snaps behind center.

The color of the uniform doesn’t really matter, at least not anymore. Once Favre’s divorce with the Packers became final, he was available to the high bidder.

Unfortunately for the people of Green Bay, that team was the Vikings. They courted Favre with the same single-minded determination the Packers had when they decided to get rid of him to begin with, and, so far at least, it looks like they have hit the lottery.

In just six games, Favre has created a lot of new memories, this time for long suffering Minnesota fans. He’s already beaten his old team once, and he’s playing like he doesn’t know he turned 40 earlier this month.

None of that can sit too well in Green Bay, a town of just 103,750 that would be pretty much unknown if it wasn’t fortunate enough to land a football team nearly a century ago. Fans there aren’t just invested in the team, they own the team through the only nonprofit community ownership organization in major sports.

Favre was the face of the franchise for so many years it was almost possible to forget another great quarterback, Bart Starr, once led the Packers to greatness. Fans could accept Favre leaving, but they’re not so accepting of him being reborn in the Metrodome.

He’ll soon be back, if only for a day. He deserves a welcome, and Packer fans deserve something, too.

So give him a big ovation.

Then let the Packers make the real statement with an even bigger win.

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Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org