GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Brett Favre had one more memorable moment with the Green Bay Packers.
With cold, driving rain drenching Lambeau Field, the Packers unveiled Favre’s name and retired No. 4 on the stadium facade Thursday night at halftime against the Chicago Bears.
Favre thanked his former teammates and fans as the crowd roared its approval.
His family was on hand as well.
“They get to see what it’s like playing at Lambeau when it’s cold, windy and raining. There’s nothing like it. I thank them so much for being so supportive all these years,” Favre said. “And most importantly, I thank you.”
There was one more special welcome for Favre when Hall of Famer Bart Starr was driven to the middle of the field on a cart. The 81-year-old Starr is recovering from two strokes and a heart attack.
“It was awesome,” Favre said. “I got more of a thrill out of that than what I was here for. To see him that excited, at 81 years old, was pretty awesome.”
The two former quarterbacks embraced.
“(This) was more than likely his last time to be here,” Favre said. “It’s sad, but I really wanted him to be here.”
Later, Favre exchanged a handshake and hug with current quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who replaced Favre as the starter in 2008.
The long-anticipated ceremony is the latest step in a lengthy reconciliation between the Packers and Favre, the three-time MVP helped revive a struggling franchise when he arrived in 1992.
The Packers won one Super Bowl and went to another during Favre’s 16 seasons, but the sides had a messy divorce with Favre waffling about retirement.
The great thaw started in July, when Favre returned to Lambeau for an emotional ceremony to retire his jersey and to be inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame.
“It was one of those moments you know that, much like today, much like tonight, you want to soak it all in. But then when it’s over, it still doesn’t seem real,” Favre said at a charity event in Green Bay earlier Thursday.
Favre had been called a gunslinger and riverboat gambler during his career for making throws off his back foot, or across his body to a receiver in tight coverage.
The swagger and playmaking ability also made him a fan favorite at Lambeau.
There was little surprise then when the Packers scheduled his retired number to be unveiled during a prime-time game on Thanksgiving before a national television audience.
“On behalf of the Green Bay Packers organization and our fans, welcome home,” team president Mark Murphy said.
This reunion didn’t seem likely after Favre was traded to the Jets in 2008. Favre then went to play for the Minnesota Vikings, the Packers’ NFC North archrivals, for two seasons.
That was it for many Packers fans who deemed Favre a traitor.
Those days seem to be long gone now.
“All forgiven,” said Packers fan Jeremy Hasselbring, of Oak Creek, who was wearing a Packers Favre jersey.
“I have his jerseys from the Jets and Minnesota,” Hasselbring said. “I knew what he was doing. But you can’t hate him for personal reasons for what he did.”
Andrew Crow, of Stevens Point, said it wasn’t until two years ago that he was able to forgive Favre.
“It was the Vikings that kind of destroyed it. But I’m here,” Crow said. “The Packers wouldn’t be where they are today without him.”
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