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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The plans to induct Brett Favre into the Packers Hall of Fame and retire his uniform No. 4 on the same night next summer have been in the works since November.
Yet when former team president Bob Harlan introduced Favre on Monday at the news conference to announce the plans, Favre's first response was: "Wow, I'm speechless."
And then in Favre's typical conversational fashion, he spent the next 30 minutes reflecting, via teleconference, on the 16 years he played in Green Bay, the decision to unretire in 2008 that divided the Packers' fan base, the three years that followed with the New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings and what it means to be welcomed back into the Packers family.
"I was always a Packer ... and it's like borrowed time elsewhere," Favre said from his home in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. "I played my heart out each and every year I played, and I'm proud of that. I was proud to say that I am a Packer and will always be a Packer and am honored that I've gotten the opportunity to do that.
"Yeah, it has been a roller coaster of emotions, and I'll be honest with you, in thinking about the ceremony and the unveiling at halftime, it almost has the same feeling when we beat the Cincinnati Bengals in the first game I played."
Monday's announcement was three-fold:
• Favre will be inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame on July 18, 2015. He will be the lone inductee in next year's class.
• At the same time, his number will be retired.
• Then at some point during the 2015 season, Favre's name and number will be unveiled on the north facade inside Lambeau Field.
Neither coach Mike McCarthy nor Ted Thompson -- the two men in charge of the team's football operations and the major decision-makers when Favre was traded to the Jets after he came out of retirement in 2008 -- spoke during Monday's announcement. But current team president Mark Murphy said "everyone in the organization is looking forward to this special night."
|Brett Favre will be inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame on July 18, 2015. His No. 4 will be retired at the same time.|
Harlan was instrumental in rebuilding the relationship between Favre and the organization. It was perhaps fitting that the announcement was made in a construction zone inside Lambeau Field that will house the new Packers Hall of Fame when it reopens in April.
Before Harlan turned the proceedings over to Favre, he spoke directly to him and said: "I'm personally privileged today to welcome you and [wife] Deanna into the Packers Hall of Fame. It's great to have old friends home again."
The return won't be complete until Favre actually visits Lambeau Field. To that end, he said he would like to come back for a game this season and then threw out the idea of joining fellow former Packers quarterback Bart Starr for a ceremonial coin toss. Favre, 44, last stepped foot in the stadium he called home for 16 years in 2009 and 2010 as a member of the visiting Vikings, and the reaction from the crowd on those two nights made it seem like he might never be welcomed back.
"I never felt that way," Favre said. "I don't want to speak for Mark or for Bob Harlan or the rest of the Packer organization, but I don't think anyone felt that way. I think we all knew it was a matter of time. The most important thing was, when was that time? You're never really right. There's always going to be people say you should have done it at this time, you should have done it at that time, you shouldn't have done it period and blah, blah, blah.
"But this is the right time, and that was never a concern."
And Favre has known that since Harlan first brought up the idea in November.
"Their enthusiasm grew during the winter months, I thought, and Brett and I had a long talk about three weeks ago, and he was excellent about everything, positive, looking forward to it," Harlan said after the announcement. "I even said to him, 'You know, we can all learn something about the way LeBron James handled going back to Cleveland. Look at how Cleveland accepted him.' I said, 'That's what you're going to get.' It's just, it's something I wanted to try, and it worked, fortunately."