NFC North: Gilbert Brown

Have at It: Greeting Favre

October, 30, 2009
Posted by’s Kevin Seifert

I continue to be underwhelmed by the hype heading into Sunday’s game between Brett Favre, er Minnesota, and Green Bay at Lambeau Field. I think everyone recognizes it’s a critical matchup in terms of NFC North standings, but to this point, the sideshow has yet to transcend reality. (Yes!!!)

 Genevieve Ross/Getty Images
 How are Packers fans going to react to Brett Favre's return to Lambeau Field?

You offered some funny suggestions and a few thoughtful ideas this week in response to our request for how Green Bay fans should handle Favre’s return. Aliahdayne1005 suggested a “waffle” station, manned by former Packers defensive tackle Gilbert Brown, be set up on the Vikings sideline. Exileondaytonstreet would love the Packers to use only two songs on the public address system: “Mississippi Queen” (Mountain or Grand Funk versions) and “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” by The Band.

Aliahdayne1005 might have had the coolest idea:
“Bring back the entire '96 team: Butler, Freeman, Levens, Chmura, ... all of them. Seat them right behind the Viking bench. Give Brett a little something to think about and remind him what a special team he used to be a part of. A distracted Brett turns into a turn-over machine.”

But the appetite for such stunts seems muted, I’m happy to report. (Seriously.) Pinter Neesbak writes: “It is my sincere hope that the fans are as classy as they have been historically, showing respect for a man who they supported for almost two decades while cheering their beloved Packers on to victory Sunday.”

MiracleMan720 went Allison Krauss/Ronan Keating on it and wrote: “You say it best....when you say nothing at alllllllllllllllllll.” Mjschaefer260 had a simple plea: “Is playing the game a possibility? I'd be fine with that.”

My take? As I’ve said, I don’t sense the same tension heading into this game as I did for the Oct. 5 "Monday Night Football" affair. Maybe that’s because I haven’t gotten over to Green Bay yet. But I’m assuming some of the commenters on the original Have at It entry are there, and I didn’t scroll through any evidence of mass hysteria or anything beyond the anticipation of a big game.

Green Bay mayor Jim Schmitt’s insertion into the hype makes me feel a little dirty. I suppose he could be concerned the city will be perceived poorly if fans erupt in, say, a non-traditional fashion on Sunday. But like most politicians, he hasn’t allowed an opportunity for attention to pass him by.

I know this is going to sound quaint, perhaps even silly and out of touch. But I think the best thing fans can do Sunday upon seeing Favre is to cheer the bejeezus out of the Packers. Showing class is always nice. But just as important is this: Every moment directed at Favre, no matter how creative, is another moment suggesting you haven’t gotten past his departure. Essentially ignoring him, while channeling excess emotion toward the team you actually root for, would be the highest form of fandom and a reminder that your support is based on the team, not individual players or components.

Stepping off the soap box …. now. See you all Sunday.
Posted by's Kevin Seifert

GREEN BAY, WIS. -- Few people remember that former Green Bay defensive tackle Gilbert Brown, who was inducted Saturday into the Packers Hall of Fame, was drafted by the division rival Minnesota Vikings in 1993.

In his acceptance speech, Brown recalled how he quickly knew the Vikings weren't the right place for him. He showed up at training camp to find two hoops on the ground. Vikings coaches wanted to work on speed, which was not a strong suit for the 350-pound Brown. Nevertheless, they instructed Brown to chase ultra-quick Vikings lineman Johnny Randle in a circle until he caught him.

"Well, he caught me," Brown said, chuckling.

Coaches asked Brown to try one more time. Again, Randle caught him.

Later, Brown recalled, Vikings receiver Cris Carter teased him unmercifully.

"So I knew I didn't like him," Brown said.

Finally, Vikings coach Dennis Green called Brown to his office and said the team wasn't happy with his progress. It planned to waive him and then put him on to the practice squad.

When he arrived at the team hotel, however, Brown got a call from the Packers. They had claimed him on waivers and wanted him to report to Green Bay the next day.

"I said, 'Tomorrow?'" Brown said. "I told them I would pack my truck and be there tonight."

The rest was history.

"After that," Brown said, "I just wore [the Vikings] out."

Posted by's Kevin Seifert

GREEN BAY, WIS. -- Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers ignored the rush Saturday night and stared downfield as if they had all the time in the world.

Favre's return to Lambeau Field wasn't surreal. It wasn't awkward. It wasn't ironic, even as Favre walked through the Packers locker room and stood on the same stage from which he made his emotional retirement announcement.

The only tension emanated from a slew of reporters gathered to document any slip-up, veiled shot or outright criticism that might come from Favre or a Packers official. No one came close. In fact, it was as if Lambeau were packed in a time capsule and insulated from worldly events.

Favre spoke publicly three times -- at a news conference, then to accept the Packers Hall of Fame MVP award, and finally to introduce inductee Frank Winters -- and never referenced his standoff with the organization. Winters touched on it only briefly in his acceptance speech, thanking Favre for showing up during "a tough time."

General manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy reportedly were in the crowd but they were out of sight to the media. Former Packers player Larry McCarren, who served as the emcee of the banquet, asked that the night be reserved for inductees Gilbert Brown, Al Treml and Winters. McCarren noted that "there are bigger problems in the world than the one the Packers Nation is wrestling with now."

Favre, who has been known to meander from topic to topic while speaking in public, kept to the script Saturday night.

"Frank asked me a couple months ago if I would do this," Favre said, "and I was honored. ... It was a privilege and an honor to play with Gilbert and Frank and work with Al. And I congratulate you. As a roommate and friend, they don't come any better than Frank."

At $125 per plate, the paying customers tonight were among the Packers' most loyal fans. They gave Favre a standing ovation at the banquet, one that appeared to take him aback. A few shouted individual messages of support.

Many reflected the torn feelings of former Packers guard Marco Rivera, who was among the former players in attendance.

"I understand where both sides are coming from," Rivera said. "I understand the position that Brett Favre is coming from. I understand the position the Packers are in. It's tough when you played football for so long to walk away. I had to walk away for [back] injuries. It was tough for me to put the TV on and watch football. I understand both situations and I hope something can be resolved, but it's up to both parties.

"I really don't know what they're going to do. But at some point I think they'll get past this."

Posted by's Kevin Seifert

GREEN BAY, WIS. -- Former Packers defensive lineman Gilbert Brown just met with the media assembled here at Lambeau Field for the Packers Hall of Fame induction.

As Brown reminded reporters, he is a man of few words. So his reaction to the standoff between the Packers and Brett Favre was pretty predictable.

"All I know is tonight is Gilbert Brown, Frank Winters, Al Treml," Brown said, referring to tonight's trio of inductees. "That's all I care about. The three guys going in."

Pressed on the issue, Brown said he hasn't had time to think about Favre's situation.

"All I've had time to think about is what I'm doing," Brown said. "Everyone can't sit around thinking about everyone else. I'm a grown man, too. He put his pads on just like me. I ain't got time to worry about him."

Posted by's Kevin Seifert

GREEN BAY, WIS. -- Yes, we're here on-site for what promises to be an interesting scene Saturday night at the annual Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame induction. As of this morning, quarterback Brett Favre is still expected to present inductee Frank Winters and thus will be in the same building with Packers general manager Ted Thompson and the rest of the team's front office. (Favre also is scheduled to appear at a news conference for the inductees but is not expected to take questions.)

We'll bring you details of the scene as soon as we can.

Here's a quick look at the division on the final quiet weekend before training camps begin:

  • Minnesota Vikings owner Zygi Wilf turned down an opportunity to comment on the Packers' tampering charges against his team. When asked by Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune, Wilf said: "Let's put it this way, I look forward to the opening game in Green Bay." (The Packers and Vikings open their season at Lambeau Field on ESPN's Monday Night Football. Game on, as they say.)
  • Wilf, linebacker Chad Greenway and other members of the Vikings organization were in Iowa City on Friday to participate in flood cleanup.
  • The Chicago Bears have extended their training camp contract with Olivet Nazarene University through 2009.
  • While Favre's presence has brought national attention on Green Bay tonight, it's only fair to point out the banquet is to honor Winters, former defensive tackle Gilbert Brown and longtime video director Al Treml.