“Don’t damage the shield.”
You hear that refrain a lot from the NFL when talking about players or coaches that run afoul of the law, referencing of course the league logo.
For the Green Bay Packers, the saying might as well be “Don’t damage the G.” Head coach Matt LaFleur even referred to “carrying the G” a while back in terms of players representing the Packers at all times off the field.
One of Green Bay’s most iconic players has not only dropped the G but also soiled it.
That player, of course, is Brett Favre.
Favre has been in the headlines as of late thanks to his involvement in one of the biggest welfare fraud schemes in Mississippi history. Favre is accused of lobbying the state’s then-governor and other officials to redirect money intended for Mississippians in need to instead go toward new volleyball and football facilities for his alma mater, Southern Mississippi. In recent days, more reporting has emerged about his charitable foundation, Favre 4 Hope, sending money to Southern Mississippi’s athletics department instead of using it for its defined missions.
Whether or not Favre will face criminal charges remains to be seen, but text messages that have leaked out paint a fairly damning picture of the legendary quarterback. Even if he never has to face a jury, he’s already been convicted in the court of public opinion.
His sentence? He never should set foot in Lambeau Field again. Other organizations in town may bring him in but the Packers shouldn’t, and likely won’t, touch him with a 10-foot pole for the foreseeable future — perhaps ever again.
This most recent scandal invoking the Ol’ Gunslinger has shown us his true colors, but in fact he has shown Packers fans these colors before. Many were simply willing to overlook them because he was such a crucial figure in returning the Packers franchise not only to relevance, but to prominence as one of the league’s premier organizations.
To be clear, Favre’s on-field achievements speak for themselves and fans should be forever thankful for Favre the player. However, Favre the man has hoodwinked people too many times, and this should be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Everyone knew Favre was a flawed human being. Now we know he’s also not a good one.
There is no “aw, shucks-ing” out of this one. His act has grown tiresome. As a grown man, Favre knew full well what he was doing and was even paranoid about being caught by the media in the leaked text messages!
Then again, maybe the act wasn’t an act after all. Shame on us all for falling for this routine too many times. When you look back at his time in Green Bay in hindsight, the signs were all there. We just overlooked them because the team was winning and we were desperate for a winner after two and a half decades of mediocrity, and that’s being kind.
Right from his arrival, there were rumors. The partying. The drinking. The unconfirmed reports of womanizing at college bars in Oshkosh. He was young at the time, but the pattern didn’t stop there. It’s easy to think that he outgrew it, but he didn’t. More on that a little later.
As his time in Green Bay continued, his legend grew — and so did his head. There were plenty of great on-field memories, but off-the-field matters were getting worse. He was dressing separately from the rest of the team. He bullied Aaron Rodgers so badly when he was first drafted that Rodgers made it a point to be kind to Jordan Love when he found himself in Favre’s shoes two years ago.
He began to try and hijack the franchise. Favre held the organization hostage each offseason as he waffled about retirement. He pressured then-general manager Ted Thompson to trade for Randy Moss back in 2007. Then when the Packers pushed him for a decision on playing, finally growing tired of the waffling act, Favre famously retired in March 2008 only to unretire months later.
When he saw Green Bay wasn’t backing off its support for Rodgers, Favre asked for his release so he could go to a team to stick it to the Packers. He had strongly divided the fan base that summer before he was eventually shipped to New York for a season with the Jets.
The next year he retired and un-retired yet again to weasel his way to Minnesota and that brought Packers fans back together. Fans had enough of the act and exiled him.
It was during that time in Minnesota that we learned Favre’s womanizing days hadn’t gone away with age and much like today, it was Favre’s texts that got him into trouble.
When he was a member of the Jets in 2008, Favre sent Jenn Sterger, then a massage therapist for the team, lewd text messages as well as some inappropriate images. While the NFL said Favre didn’t violate the league’s personal conduct policy, he was fined $10,000 for failing to cooperate with the investigation.
The tiger once again showed his stripes and once again they were overlooked, this time at great cost to Sterger. In light of this recent scandal, she reflected on Twitter on what her own run-in with Favre had done to her reputation. It’s heartbreaking that although she was shamed and humiliated, Favre largely remained in everyone’s good graces.
Shame on us all for that one. Sterger didn’t deserve what she went through and we all, fans and football media, have to do better. We can’t keep turning our eyes when our heroes do something wrong, and victims need to be treated like humans, not tabloid fodder.
Back on the football field, the rest is well documented. Favre failed to win a Super Bowl with the Vikings and watched Rodgers win one in his final year. Finally done with football, everyone knew the Packers and Favre would reconcile, but when and on whose terms?
Five years later, we got our answer. Favre was inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame and a full Lambeau Field crowd gave him an ovation that lasted forever. A few months later, Favre saw his number hung in the Lambeau rafters and was greeted by ailing legend Bart Starr in a moment no one will ever forget. All was finally forgiven and Favre was back as a beloved figure in Green Bay.
Or so we thought.
Now, almost seven years after that special rain-soaked night, Favre is once again back in the headlines and this time the quarterback shouldn’t be able to come back from it. It’s one last back breaking interception.
On a personal note, I thought back to that night at Lambeau Field in 2015. I remember seeing Favre and Starr embrace and heard the Lambeau crowd roar at the sight. Seeing Starr hug Favre with a smile warmed us all on that cold rainy night and we thought everything was fine.
Starr was the gold standard of Packers quarterbacks both on and off the field. His charitable works left big shoes to fill for every Packers quarterback since, something Favre and Rodgers have both recognized.
Starr passed away in 2019 and is undoubtedly now looking down upon Favre with great sadness and perhaps shame.
Favre has shamed Starr and now he’s going to have to live with that for the rest of his life.
Indeed, he has shamed all of us and to be honest, he probably doesn’t even care. That’s just the kind of person he is.
In conclusion, Favre the player is a legend.
Favre the man is a coward.