Brett Favre returns to Lambeau for Packers Hall of Fame
GREEN BAY, Wis. – Brett Favre headed up the Lambeau Field tunnel, a path that he had walked dozens of times.
He turned left at the end, and then walked through a set of double doors. The Green Bay Packers’ locker room was just down the hall on the right.
And that’s when it finally it him. He was back at his football home.
The three-time MVP quarterback was being inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame on Saturday night, a ceremony inside Lambeau Field that was to also include the retirement of his No. 4 jersey. It was the first time in the franchise’s storied history that a player was to receive both honors at the same time.
“It was like I never left. It was a great feeling. It was kind of weird because I had been here for a couple of hours and just walked off of Lambeau,” Favre said before the ceremony. “It’s kind of funny how things are triggered. And then it was kind of a sigh of relief almost.”
It was a moment that some Packers fans thought would never come, not after the “will he-or-won’t he retire” drama that marked the end of his 16-year tenure in Titletown. He was traded to the New York Jets in 2008, then played two more seasons with division rival Minnesota starting in 2009 before calling it quits for good.
“I’d much rather go out that tunnel right there,” Favre told frenzied fans on the field before the ceremony, pointing to the home tunnel. He played two games at Lambeau as a visitor with Minnesota.
Now a reconciliation that has been years in the making is finally complete.
Fans, many of them wearing No. 4 jerseys, welcomed Favre back as if he never left. He signed autographs, and caught up with old friends.
Tailgaters milled around parking lots as if they were getting ready for a Bears game. More than 67,000 people were expected to watch the ceremony on video boards inside the stadium bowl.
Favre said he would try not to get emotional on Saturday night. He was fighting back tears by the time he was addressing fans on the field by microphone on a sticky afternoon. Chants of “MVP! MVP! MVP!” ringed the stadium. “One more year,” yelled some in the crowd.
“All I can say is, ‘Wow.’ This is absolutely amazing,” Favre said.
Former general manager Ron Wolf and former coach Mike Holmgren were among those who joined Favre at a press conference before the ceremony. Favre was to be introduced at the event by his former roommate, center Frank Winters.
Wolf said it was an honor “to be standing in a park, of football’s most storied cathedral, Lambeau Field, to acknowledge, in my opinion – and I realize I’m biased – the best player ever to play for the Green Bay Packers.”
Wolf acquired Favre in 1992 from the Atlanta Falcons for a first-round draft pick. It was the move that would spark the revival of one of the league’s marquee franchises.
What followed was a slew of records, including the NFL mark for quarterback durability of 297 straight regular-season games. The Packers won the Super Bowl in 1996, beating New England 35-21. They returned to the Super Bowl the following season, losing to Denver 31-24.
“I understand that this night is ‘about me,’ but I would choose to say it’s about us,” Favre said, gesturing to those sitting behind him and referring his teammates. “And that’s why I’m here today. It has nothing to do with me. But again, I’m extremely honored and that’s probably an understatement.”
By GENARO C. ARMAS, AP Sports Writer
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