Packers fans all over America have looked forward for months, with considerable relish, to tonight’s contest with the hated Vikings. The local paper even dubbed last week “Favre Week” and did a countdown to the game, on the front page, every day. Some guy wrote a letter to the editor Friday pointing out that the paper’s sports columnists had mentioned Favre about a dozen times, but not a word about Aaron Rodgers.
The local electronic media’s websites carried queries on whether or not we’d still be “rooting” for Favre, and social media like Facebook were filled with posts and replies with strong feelings, both ways, about Brett.
It wasn’t all that many years ago Jim McMahon, Super Bowl-winning quarterback of the arch-nemesis Chicago Bears, put on a Packers uniform in 1995 and won a Super Bowl ring with the Pack, in 1996, in a deep backup role. So this sort of quarterback-controversy-friend-or-foe thing is not without precedence in Packers history.
I was thinking about old Jimbo, and about what Packers defensive lineman Charles Martin did to him when McMahon was quarterbacking the Bears against the Pack in 1986, as I dozed off in front of the TV yesterday afternoon.
In my dream, it was late in the Monday night game between the Pack and the Vikes. Deep into the fourth quarter, tied at 21. A see-saw battle all the way. Less than a minute left in the game. Minnesota was on offense, on their own 34 yard line. Favre called for the snap, out of the shotgun formation. He dropped back to pass. Johnny Jolly, the Packers’ huge and speedy defensive lineman, slipped a block and laid a tremendously violent sack on Favre.
You could hear a pin drop in the MetroDome. Favre wasn’t getting up.
But then, as the trainers rushed onto the field, Favre stirred, got up, and waved the trainers off. It was third and 27 on the Vikes’ 27 yard line. Everybody knew the “hail Mary” pass was coming. Favre was still woozy from the sack Jolly had laid on him, and he drifted back to pass again. His head started swimming. He saw the green and gold jerseys downfield…the ones he’d thrown to all those years…and found a man in green and gold open, and lofted a pass to him.
As his head began to clear, Favre realized he’d been picked off! Omigod, he forgot he was a Viking, and was throwing to a Packers defensive back! Charles Woodson was running toward the Vikes’ goal line with the ball; but the Vikes pushed him out of bounds on the 22 yard line!
First and ten, Packers, on the Vikes’ 22. Rodgers breaks the huddle. 14 seconds left. Everybody thinks it’ll be a safe handoff up the middle, then a field goal to win it, with just a couple seconds left. Rodgers takes the snap - he’s back to pass!!! What?!?! He’s scrambling! Eluding a tackle here, dodging another man there…and with four seconds left, he sees Donald Driver in the end zone, lofts the pass….Driver hauls it in - TOUCHDOWN GREEN BAY!
Time expires as Crosby’s point-after kick goes through the uprights, and the Pack wins, 28-21.
Nobody, except Brett Favre, ever knew that it wasn’t really an interception that determined the outcome. In his dazed state, he was just doing what he’d done so well for so many years - making a last-minute pass to a man in a green and gold jersey.
I woke up when the dog started barking at a squirrel in the back yard.