The National Football League released its schedule of games for 2014 yesterday and each team’s path to Super Bowl XLIX in Arizona has been placed before them.
For the Green Bay Packers however, there is an additional question to be answered and it is at the front of every cheesehead’s mind:
“Is this the year?”
As in “is this the year the Packers and former quarterback Brett Favre finally publicly bury the hatchet?” Packers president Mark Murphy said the plan was to have Favre at a game this past season, but his role as offensive coordinator of a state champion football team kept the former MVP quarterback from making his way back to Lambeau Field in 2013.
With Favre having already announced he will not be coaching Mississippi high school football in 2014, the door is wide open for his return to the Packers family this season. Now that the schedule for the season has been announced, it’s time to begin another edition of Favre Watch except this time it is guaranteed to have a happy ending for both Favre and Packers fans.
Here are the Packers’ 2014 home games, ranked from least likely to most likely to be the game Favre returns to Lambeau to have his number retired and maybe even more.
8. Lions vs Packers, Week 17
This game will be played on Sunday, December 28. This game could decide a playoff spot or perhaps even the NFC North title. Take the potential enormity of the game and the possibility of brutally cold and/or snowy weather, this isn’t likely to be the one Favre returns home to.
7. Eagles vs Packers, Week 11
This game would likely be higher up on the list if Favre’s former quarterbacks coach Andy Reid were still coaching the Eagles. Combine that with the fact that this is a Gold Package (aka former County Stadium ticket holders) game and this probably won’t be the game either.
6. Vikings vs Packers, Week 5
This would be “oh-so-sweet” for Packers fans to welcome their former hero back during the game against the team he joined that broke so many fans hearts. Unfortunately, this is another Gold Package game, which all but precludes that a Favre return isn’t likely here either.
5. Bears vs Packers, Week 10
It would be another memorable moment in the longest running rivalry in football history. Favre broke the hearts of the Bears and their fans multiple times during his career in Green Bay and reminding them of that might be to good of an opportunity to pass up for the Packers. That said, with so much “Favre symbolism” present on the 2014 schedule, this isn’t most attractive game.
4. Panthers vs Packers, Week 7
One of the greatest triumphs of Favre’s career was the victory over the Carolina Panthers in the NFC Championship Game at Lambeau Field. The game is also in mid-October so Favre wouldn’t have to worry about sitting out on a stage in bitter cold. It’d be an intriguing option for the Packers, but again there are more attractive options on the schedule.
3. Falcons vs Packers, Week 14
The script is almost too perfect here. Monday Night Football and a national television audience and the team that originally drafted Favre is the Packers’ opponent. It makes too much sense in a way. However, the game is on December 8 and this is another game ripe for cold and snow. If Favre didn’t like the cold weather in the latter part of his career, he wouldn’t like a ceremony in bad conditions either. This has to be something that Favre and the Packers must agree on.
2. Patriots vs Packers, Week 13
This game will already have a considerable amount of hype behind it with the Aaron Rodgers vs. Tom Brady storyline. Throwing a Favre jersey retirement ceremony would just blow the lid off of it. Combine that with the fact that this is a rematch of Super Bowl XXXI, Favre’s lone Super Bowl victory, and this becomes a very tantalizing choice for both the Packers and Favre.
1. Jets vs Packers, Week 2
This is perfect and for all the right reasons. It’s the Packers home opener and the team would retire Favre’s jersey, just as the plan was in 2008 before the whole saga unfolded. It’s also against the team the Packers traded Favre to. It’s in warmer weather in September and this isn’t going to be a high stakes game given it will only be the second week of the season. This would also bring the summer of 2008 full circle and could give closure to so many fans, even those still bitter over how everything went down.
If a Packers/Favre reunion nearly happened in 2013, one would have to think it’s a near-certainty for 2014. Murphy has said he wants Favre’s jersey retirement to happen before the quarterback is enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and he is running out of time. With so many games on the 2014 schedule against opponents that Favre previously had success against, the time is now to get this done.
Get it done, Mr. Murphy. Favre deserves to go into Canton with the full force of Packer Nation behind him.——————
Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke