If time can truly heal all wounds, the strained relationship between the Green Bay Packers and former quarterback Brett Favre still needs a couple more years.
With Favre now out of the NFL for good after having not played during the 2011 season, the 42-year-old gunslinger and the team he led for 16 seasons – the one that unceremoniously traded him — can attempt to reunite and leave their hostility in the past.
During a surprise stop at West Allis Hale High School on Thursday, Packers team president Mark Murphy was asked by a student whether the team will retire Favre’s No. 4.
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“Yes, he deserves that for what he did as a Packer,” Murphy said, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Probably in a year or two. We want to do it at a time that’s meaningful to him.”
Favre’s relationship with Green Bay and the franchise he helped bring a Super Bowl trophy to in 1997 ended on very bitter terms. While Favre was making an annual tradition out of mulling retirement each offseason, the Packers were grooming 2005 first-round pick Aaron Rodgers to be his eventual successor.
In 2008, when Favre initially retired, general manager Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy made Rodgers the starting quarterback heading into training camp. When Favre let the team know that he’d like to un-retire and return for a 17th season, Thompson and McCarthy didn’t like the idea. They wanted to give Rodgers a chance to lead the team.
As a result, Favre asked the Packers for an unconditional release, a request that was denied. Believing that Favre wanted to sign with the division-rival Minnesota Vikings, the Packers traded the three-time NFL MVP to the New York Jets.
After one year in New York, Favre did end up signing with the Vikings and played against the Packers as a visitor at Lambeau Field during the 2009 and 2010 seasons. Favre and the Vikings won that matchup in 2009 but lost in 2010.
It makes sense for Favre to eventually retire as a Packer and let No. 4 live forever as his number in Green Bay. But even Murphy’s projection of “in a year or two” seems a bit quick. Favre still has his supporters throughout the state of Wisconsin, but there are also those who have not forgotten Favre’s less-than-amicable exit.
No Packer has worn No. 4 since Favre left the team.