The story about when Brett Favre will return to Lambeau Field for a jersey retirement is a big one in Wisconsin, one the media there asks about regularly. Fox Sports Wisconsin said the latest answer is that it's doubtful to happen in 2014, although the door hasn't been shut on Favre returning for a game this season and simply being introduced to the crowd.
What was interesting about the Fox Sports Wisconsin report from Paul Imig is that Packers CEO Mark Murphy has legitimate concern about Packers fans booing Favre whenever he returns.
"That is an issue," Murphy said to Fox Sports Wisconsin. "He doesn't want it, and neither do we. He wouldn't want to come back and get booed. You can't control 80,750 people. I really think as time goes on, every year that passes it's less likely that he would get booed, but that is an issue."
It seems inconceivable that a player with Favre's history in the organization would get booed. Before he arrived in 1992 Green Bay was the NFL's wasteland propped up on 25- or 30-year old stories of greatness, and it has been one of the NFL's best franchises since Favre became a Packer. But when he orchestrated his move to the Vikings after a year with the Jets, to spite a Packers organization that decided to move on with Aaron Rodgers (good call there, I'd say), that didn't sit well with Packers fans. The rivalries with the Bears and Vikings run deep. People in Wisconsin take loyalty from their sports stars very seriously. There's a reason Robin Yount is still so popular there. He was a great player with the Brewers and maybe more importantly, he never left.
But would they really boo Brett Favre?
It's a tricky question. Having Favre come out to be introduced – and no matter when that happens, the simple introduction to the crowd will be a big story – only to get booed would be horribly embarrassing for the franchise and throw some cold water on retiring ol' No. 4. It would be even worse if Favre's first return to Lambeau since giving up football was for the number retirement, and he got booed during it. That moment would be a debacle and stick with the franchise for a long time. Fox Sports Wisconsin said Ryan Longwell, the longtime kicker who also went from Green Bay to Minnesota, heard some boos when he came back this past season (although there are conflicting reports on that). So maybe it could happen to Favre.
The best guess is that a vast majority of Packers fans will cheer. Favre won three MVPs and a Super Bowl there. There's a gratitude for that. I figure at least a few fans will boo, and even if it's a small percentage that will be blown out of proportion. But it's enough of a worry that it appears, based on Murphy's comments, it's affecting when the Packers retire his number. One way or another the team wants to do it before the 2016 season, when Favre will be inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
No matter how messy the divorce was, there's just no chance Packers fans boo the man who brought so much joy and success to the organization ... right?
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