When Kings Collide
by Mike Conklin
February 3, 2013
For the most part, the NFL Honors show was anticlimactic. Reports of the award winners had already been leaked, and there isn't much point of an awards show when you already know who the winners are.
Even so, many Packers fans remained glued to their seats. Word had also been leaked that the unthinkable was happening. Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers were making nice on stage. It may be worth watching again:
Their exchange lasted less than a minute, but it is a moment that will be talked about for days, weeks, months...probably even years. An olive branch had been extended. Although it was a moment cloaked in humor, the picture of these two Packers greats smiling together on stage sent a powerful message.
Brett Favre was the King of the Packers for an entire generation of Packers fans. He is a sure-fire first ballot Hall of Famer.
Aaron Rodgers is the King of the Packers now. He has already carved his own place in history.
And on Saturday night, the famous words of other Kings reverberated through Packer Nation.
Martin Luther King Jr. talked about having a dream. For some fans, it felt like a dream come true to see Favre and Rodgers shaking hands and smiling.
But for many others, the words of Rodney King carried the night.
"Can we all get along?"
Emotions run high on this issue. Fans continue to feel strongly about it. Obviously the key players involved feel strongly about it. Everything about the Packers...small town, owned by fans, players riding kids' bikes to practices...is a nice warm and fuzzy story. But the way Brett Favre ended his career with the team took some of the luster off of that nice Packers story, and traces of that divide have remained to this day. Even though the Packers won a Super Bowl since Favre left, all has not completely been well within Packer Nation. Wounds are still there.
That is what makes what happened at the NFL Honors show so important. We will probably never know all the machinations that took place behind the scenes that made this "reunion" possible. But on some level, both Favre and Rodgers must have realized that it was time to put their differences behind them for the greater good and to take this first step.
It is actually a pretty big deal. Both of them had to check their pride at the door. Each of them probably still feels like he has a legitimate beef, and would have look past it to make this happen. That is never an easy thing to do, especially for NFL quarterbacks who have risen to that level in large part because of their confidence (dare we say egos?), but in the end they accomplished their goal.
Even setting aside the should-we-or-shouldn't-we hug that may or may not have been part of the act, the evening was still awkward in many ways. Brett Favre was seated next to Vikings coach Leslie Frazier, a clear reminder of how he finished his career. And although it is tough to read a lot into a staged moment in front of thousands of people and television cameras, the two of them didn't exactly seem to look each other in the eyes much during their exchange.
But they did look the elephant in the room in the eye. And the 800-pound gorilla. They made light of an uncomfortable situation and even laughed at themselves, which seems like a clear message that they are OK with the idea of moving on. Packers fans should take notice.
As hard to believe as it may be, the messy divorce between Brett Favre and the Packers is now five years old. Continuing with the divorce analogy, Aaron Rodgers is like the kid that had to suffer through that ordeal and ultimately paid the price. Even though Favre didn't make it any easier for Rodgers throughout that fiasco and in the years since, if Rodgers is ready to make nice with Favre it should serve as a clear sign to the Packers and fans alike that it is time to start turning the page.
Time heals all wounds, right? After all...
"Can we all get along?"
Photo Credit: Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel