We measure champions in moments — a surprise quarterback sneak on a frozen field, a 40-yard playoff game-winning touchdown pass, an improbable 12-yard scramble on a newly sprained ankle.
Thursday night, we stood for hours in an icy rain at Lambeau Field waiting for one of those moments of a lifetime, and we ended up with three.
The first happened when Brett Favre stepped out of the tunnel to a roaring applause muted only by the soggy hands and wet gloves attempting it. Green Bay’s prodigal son returned to a stadium full of people wearing No. 4 jerseys and tribute shirts. Best of all, he brought guests…
The second moment happened when a beaming Bart and Cherry Starr, looking like a high school homecoming king and queen, hopped on the back of a golf cart and made their way around the southeast side of the stadium. We all knew what it took for the Starrs to make their way back to Green Bay and we were thrilled to see them so clearly enjoy their stay. The Favre/Starr embrace will stand as an iconic moment in a stadium bursting with 58 years of them.
The third moment happened when Aaron Rodgers spotted Favre on the field, sprinted over, and gave him a sincere hug. The fraternity of Packer quarterbacks remains uniquely exclusive and, despite all you’ve read, sweetly supportive.
Favre famously held off his unveiling until Starr could attend. He could have enjoyed a lingering solo spotlight on a balmy Sunday afternoon. He ended up with an abbreviated ceremony in some of the most miserable conditions that stadium had known. Favre’s ceremony meant more because of the people with whom he chose to share it.
Similarly, in 1989, when Zeke Bratkowski, who spent his years in Green Bay in the shadow of his fellow quarterback Bart Starr, earned an induction into the Packer’s Hall of Fame, he chose Starr as his presenter. On the one night in which the spotlight was all his own, he invited Starr to share it.
“Wishing the best to my friend and the best Packer QB ever…Bart Starr,” posted Don Horn on his Facebook page prior to the Thanksgiving game. It’s a significant statement given Horn’s own history as a Packer QB from 1967 through 1970.
Among Favre’s teammates who joined him on that soggy field Thursday night was one quarterback known more for his time with a rival team. Jim McMahon, the punky QB from Chicago, played for the Packers during the 1995 and 1996 seasons.Thursday night, McMahon stood in the rain wearing a green and gold jersey and applauding a fellow legend.
We were privileged to stand in the rain along with all of those players Thanksgiving night and share a storied stadium with three of the best quarterbacks the NFL has ever known.
Congratulations to Brett Favre.
Go Pack Go.
Here’s a little clip of the reception Brett Favre received when he stepped out on the field.