Monday Night Showdown: The Green Bay-Favre Reunion
How lucky can ESPN get by having the broadcast rights to the first Packers-Vikings Favre game of the season? This game has so many good storylines that its hard to pick the most relevant.You have the revenge factor, as both Favre and the Packers try to prove that they were justified for their actions two summers ago. So far the Packers are losing that argument, as Favre-led teams have a much better record over the last year and a half, than the Favre-less Packers do (must be hard for the Pack to convince their fans that Favre was done when he still makes plays like this). Favre’s success post-Green Bay is even more impressive considering he’s working with new personnel and in a new system, is pushing 40, and had a bum arm last year. While you can say all you want about how Favre handled himself off the field, (and I have) you have to respect his humility with the situation, and no one can question what he does on the field.
The other big storyline of the game is the master-apprentice relationship between Favre and his replacement Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers spent three years as Favre’s understudy after being drafted in the first round of the 2005 NFL draft. I think those years on the bench were the best thing for Rodgers in the long run. Despite this only being his second year starting, Rodgers has had more success than his fellow first round quarterbacks, Alex Smith and Jason Campbell (not to mention Rodgers cashed in on a lucrative contract extension, while the other two are fighting for jobs). Rodgers wasn’t a Ben Roethlisberger or Matt Ryan type of prospect, who could have just stepped in right away and been successful. Rodgers needed that time on the bench to mature and learn from the master. Now he goes up against his mentor for the first time (even though the media has pretty much compared his numbers and production to Favre weekly). Watching the Packers icon of old, battle against the new face of the franchise is pretty fun to watch, and it will be interesting to see who the last man is standing tonight.
In addition to the two main storylines there are a few other things to watch tonight. Despite being week four, this game does have some playoff implications for these two division rivals. If the Vikings win and go to 4-0, they will already have a two game lead on the Packers in the division. If the Packers win, then they vault to the top of the three team tie for first because of wins over Chicago and Minnesota. A win by Green Bay would also show that the North is the power conference of the NFC, and not the East or South like most people expected. Another thing to watch tonight is a win by Minnesota would give Brett Favre wins against all 32 franchise’s in the NFL, the only player to do so.
While this topic will continue to be debated throughout the season (and maybe years to come), I’m glad Brett Favre is back and playing on Sundays (and Mondays), and not just for the good drama tonight. So far its not a case of some guy trying to play past his prime, like we’ve seen far too often in sports in recent years. If Favre still has something left in the tank, then he should be playing for the fans and for the game. How many times have we’ve seen wonderful careers cut short due to injury, tragedy, or simple loss of desire to play. While I think the media circus that Favre and the Packers have created the last few years (more Favre than the Packers), has tarnished their images, I do respect Favre for having the passion to just want to play football. Favre is an artist and entertainer, where would we be if other artists and entertainers had quit before their time. What if Leonardo da Vinci quit painting after The Last Supper, or if William Shakespeare quit writing after Romeo and Juliet, or if Vanilla Ice had quit rapping after “Ice Ice Baby” (alright bad example, but we would never have “Go Ninja, Go Ninja Go”). Even though I’m glad that Favre is still throwing the ball, it will be weird tonight to see 53 players wearing yellow and green and No. 4 not being one of them.