I'm calling it now. I don't think Brett Favre sets foot in Lambeau Field as a player ever again.
And, in many ways, it disappoints me. I have tickets for the October 24th matchup, a game I've been looking forward to for quite some time, ever since my father-in-law surprised me with a set of tickets. I've had "Rodgers Beats Favre" sitting on my Google Calendar, waiting for that moment of vindication, if not final validation.
I was lucky enough to have been called the morning of Favre's first game in 1992 with an offer to attend, not knowing Don Majkowski would be injured and Favre would lead the most memorable comeback in my personal Packer history. I vowed nearly a decade ago that since I was at his first game, I would try my hardest to be present at his last. I managed to swing December and January tickets, as well as nearly every home playoff game over that time, up until 2008, when I couldn't find Giants playoff tickets. I thought that one would never get crossed off my bucket list.
Now, of course, this goal has perverted itself into something completely different...a desire to see Favre's last game at Lambeau, and to lose at the hand of the TEAM he left behind. As I did last year, when I bamboozled my uncle out of the family set of tickets for the Vikings game, I figured, "I will be at Favre's last game at Lambeau Field."
Except now, I don't think it is going to happen. No, Brett Favre is not going to be on the field that day, and I would doubt he will even make the trip.
How do I know this? I really don't, but I would be willing to wager there isn't a blogger out there who has spent more time trying to predict, defend, and profile Brett Favre's psyche over the years than me. All of the actions he's done the past five years or so may have been unexpected, but to me, they've never been surprising.
Maybe that start streak is incredibly important to Favre. It wouldn't surprise me if he just likes coming back to make sure, if nothing else, Payton Manning will have a tough time reaching it. But that pales in comparison to his desire to be wanted and adored by people. It's a monster we helped create over the years, when he could throw 30 interceptions in a year and folks would still find excuses as to why it was everyone else's fault.
Favre had no problem entering Lambeau Field last year, with a 6-1 team and already a win over the Packers at home. All the bullets were in the gun, and he had four games with a 100+ passing efficiency rating. He had nothing to be ashamed of, and could be confident that his team (and the scoreboard) would silence the crowd.
Well, I was there, and I can tell you the crowd was never silenced, but there were enough Viking (and Favre fans) there to make things pretty damn comfortable for him, and as Ryan Longwell put an arm around him and walked him to the visitor's tunnel at the end of the game, you had to believe there was a self-satisfied smirk on his face.
But, this isn't the case this year. As of right now, the Vikings are a shell of the team they were last year, and Favre is playing terribly. The one win they have at the hands of the lowly Lions looks to be a gimmee game (as usual), as Favre posted a mere 68.4 passer rating. But, moreover, the Vikings looked terrible in that game. It was an ugly win against what should have been be a far inferior opponent. Adrian Peterson's 168 yards rushing was pretty much the difference in that game, not Favre.
The Vikings will be playing two teams with a far better pedigree than that Lions after their bye week next week: the Jets are 2-1 and are on a roll after a slow start, and the 1-2 Cowboys look to be recovering from their stumble out of the gate, too. For all their dramatic problems, you can't deny that both of these teams are loaded with talent, and will give a Viking team that appears depleted and without focus a lot of problems.
Let's presume that the Vikings are 1-4 when it is time to make the trip to Lambeau. Reasonable. Let's presume the Packers win tonight, and take at least two wins out of the next three games against the Lions, Redskins, and Dolphins. Very reasonable. The Packers, at home, at 5-1 taking on the Vikings at 1-4?
There's no way that Favre will enter that stadium, he with his 60.4 efficiency rating, he of the six interceptions in three games, he the man who commentators are starting to pity instead of fawn over. There's no way Favre will play in a game in which he is destined to make a fool of himself.
No, I take that back...he's done that enough times. But he will not allow himself to play the fool for the Lambeau faithful. He's already learning a hard enough lesson that Viking fans are not Packer fans. Viking fans are all bluster and cocksure, and then when the team inevitably implodes, they scream and tantrum like spoiled children who've had their toys taken away.
They're not nearly as forgiving as Packer fans, who tolerated off-year after off-year and still rose to champion him when he made a stumbling pass in the snow, or flipped a receiver over his shoulders after a touchdown throw.
If what appears to be the path holds true, I find it hard to believe that a man who has played by his own set of rules for so long will allow himself to be held accountable in the last stadium he wants to fail in: Lambeau Field. It's more than matter of not wanting to face the fans, the players, or his former coach and GM: it's coming in knowing that there's no way he can match up and be competitive. He is already embarrassed, but that's nothing compared to what he will face with Mike McCarthy staring at him from across the field.
Favre played two perfect games against the Packers last year, and we all know that even one interception would have somehow vindicated Packer fans who wanted to see him fail. But, not only does it appear that Favre will not be able to compete this year, neither can the team around him.
People with huge egos, arrogance, and who like to dictate the rules don't take kindly to accountability, and the October 24th game has every sign of becoming a game of his past coming back to haunt him. In an embarassing loss, no one will be there to hold him as he has to walk out the tunnel in front of 70,000 jeering fans, not to mention a certain coach and GM.
How will it happen? Well, he suffered a "stinger" in the second quarter yesterday. His ankle is still hobbling. And, of course, the offensive line has been a sieve this year for him. Somehow or other, I think Favre stays back to rehab his ankle or something. The start streak will come to an end. Heck, he may even decide to retire. Again.
Now, mind you, I may be wrong, and Favre may show up to start the game. But we've seen games, even as a Packer, where he started, had things go wrong, and ended up with an injury that kept him out the rest of the game. This is also a strong possibility. No matter what, though, I don't think you'll see him finish, and I don't think he will give the Packers the opportunity to get their full come-uppance.
In a way, that may be Favre's final shot against the Packers...denying them the opportunity to get that vindication they've sought for going on three years now. Time will tell.