Favre homecoming sparks trip down Memory Lane
Much has been said and written about Brett Favre’s Green Bay Packers homecoming over the weekend and how it brought back memories of his 16-year career here when he was thrilling fans on a weekly basis. Having really enjoyed going to games and watching him play, I wanted to attend the banquet in his honor to say thank you for all he did for Green Bay. After Bob Harlan brought Ron Wolf on board, he hired Mike Holmgren and traded a number one draft pick for Favre. Wolf recognized great football talent and Favre proceeded to resuscitate the ailing Packers franchise and bring passion back to the sport of watching them play once again!
I attended the event with my wife and an old friend originally from here, but now from Minnesota, Nick Lakin.
After being seated in the Atrium, we watched Favre address the crowd out on the field. A flood of memories, emotions and warm feelings swept over me as he spoke and I thought back to the many games I had attended after he led us back to the glory years.
The first was a game against the Cincinnati Bengals in early December 1995. I remember sitting up in the stands and feeling like the resurgence of this team was for real and they would go deep in the playoffs! As I watched and felt the excitement with anticipation of a hard-fought victory, that old, long-dormant feeling I recalled from when I was a kid in the mid-sixties came back, which was all about winning! It was a wonderful feeling and brought some thoughts to mind, which were:
“The Green Bay Packers are the finest team,
America’s Packers are every fan’s dream.
A tradition of glory all through the years,
Forged by great players with blood, sweat and tears.
The Green Bay Packers are the green and the gold,
With the spirit of champions which never grows old.
The pride and the glory go all the way back,
To the dawn of the league and the birth of the Pack.”
We had gone 9-7 the previous two years, making the playoffs both times. Doing so twice in a row was something that hadn’t happened in Green Bay since the ’67 season. As we approached the final weeks of the ’95 season, Favre and the Packers were playing great football and there really was a palpable feeling of excitement in the air that was building every week! More thoughts came to mind:
“When the Green Bay Packers line up on the ball,
It’s all for one and one for all.
They’ll fight fair and hard in order to win,
And come back to do it, again and again!
In this day and age as teams come and go,
There is one truth fans everywhere know.
America’s Packers forever shall stay,
In Titletown, also known as Green Bay…”
The Cowboys beat us for the third year in a row to end our playoff run but Favre had led the team to the NFC Championship game also for the first time since ’67, which was when they had gone on to win Super Bowl II. Favre won his first MVP award that year which he richly deserved.
But most importantly, we had a new-found confidence and swagger that had been missing since the glory years, after which we had endured the sorry years! But now over 20 years later, things really were changing! We found out what it felt like to be consistent winners again and what a wonderful feeling it was! We had actually made it to the NFC Championship game and new possibilities were within our reach! And finally:
“So come one and all and join in the cheer,
For all of our heroes, be heard loud and clear!
From Lambeau to Lombardi and all of the rest,
The Packer tradition is simply the best!
Yes, the Packer tradition, is simply the best!”
The following season was our finest in 30 years with an NFL-best regular season record of 13-3.
When we played the Carolina Panthers at Lambeau and won the NFC Championship, you could feel the electricity and excitement in the air!
I called my wife on my way home from the game and asked how she’d like to go to the Super Bowl in New Orleans. Her response was: “but who will take care of the baby?” and “we can’t afford it!” with the suggestion that I ask my brother. I did but with a young family and his own business to run, it just wasn’t possible. After making a couple more calls, I called my wife once again to say that I had made an executive decision and she was going to the game with me.
I also promised her that “she’d never regret it, guaranteed!” I had the answer to the child care concern (one of the grandmothers), the finances (what were credit cards for if not this?!) and had booked two seats on a bus that would take two days down, one there, and two days back but included tickets to the game!
My reverie moved on to how the “Tailgate Tunes” CD venture came into being the following year with a Nashville label putting out a Packers CD with three of my songs on it. When they thought it had run its course several years later, I bought the label and released another CD.
There were a lot of other memories coming back from when Favre played here, including many concerning the issues that would affect the Packer Nation such as the referendum to renovate Lambeau Field. My father and I disagreed but I really felt it was necessary and worthwhile, and had donated time to the “Team Lambeau” effort to make it happen. It was the next year that I had my wife’s car painted green and gold and turned into a Packermobile as a surprise Christmas present to her!
When Favre went to the Jets in 2008, I was disappointed to see him go but wished him well. He still wanted to play and even though it wasn’t going to be with the Packers, I felt he deserved the opportunity to be able to do so. I even tuned in to some of their games to watch him play.
But it was entirely different the following year when he went to the detested Minnesota Vikings! Like many others around Packerland, I found it very difficult to deal with!
When he returned on Saturday, he said all was forgotten and it truly was by everybody on both sides. And when he mentioned it felt like he had never left and it was a great feeling, we all felt the same way! It was a warm, moving ceremony with the crowd staying on their feet the entire time.
At the end of the evening when the “legendary celebration” was over, things had finally come full circle and all was right with Brett Favre, the Packers and the world once again!