As a Packer fan, there's no disputing that I enjoyed every minute of the 31-3 drubbing they inflicted upon the Minnesota Vikings yesterday at Har-Mar, er I mean Mall of America Field. After a bit of a slow start, Aaron Rodgers was masterful and the Packer defense was generally quite effective in slowing down what is left of the Minnesota offense. Good show.
And yet, and yet -- there's something a little hollow in watching Brett Favre turn into Willie Mays in a Mets uniform. Yes, the Favre act has gotten even older than he is and yes, the Vikings are getting what they deserved for believing that a once-in-a-lifetime series of events could be replicated.
Still, I don't feel any great joy in Favre's comeuppance. His performances have absolutely vindicated the decisions that Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy made in 2008, when they decided to turn over control of the Packers to Rodgers. Still, I continue to believe that Favre's departure could have been handled with a little more grace.
Favre, for all his faults, was the face the of the Packers for 16 seasons. Aside from Curly Lambeau or Vince Lombardi, no one other individual has represented the team in such a public way in its history. He did lead the team to a stretch of enormous success and won a lot of games for four very different coaches in his tenure. He made the Packers a team the nation wanted to watch again, putting the lie to the sneering of national observers like Frank Deford, who declared the Packers dead and irrelevant in the 1980s. It would be churlish to forget the role Favre has had in making Packer football both relevant and enjoyable.
At one point in yesterday's broadcast, the cameras turned to Chuck Foreman, the great old Viking runner of the 1970s, who disappointed me by whipping up on the Packers regularly during my childhood. I was watching the game with the Benster and told him about my memories of Chuck Foreman. It occurs to me that Benster has never felt the despair of knowing his team cannot compete. More than anyone else, Brett Favre is the reason for that.
And while I always prefer the Packers to the Vikings, I live in Minnesota. The Vikings are, for better or worse, the team that generates the most passion in these parts and while it pains me to admit it, I think that most Vikings fans understand the game well and are actually pretty reasonable. The mood of this place is always better when the Vikings are winning -- it's almost palpable. With the onset of an early winter that is suggesting ferocity, it's been a depressing week in Minnesota and the long winter the Vikings have delivered doesn't help the mood. My own personal happiness aside, there's no joy in that.