|David Stluka / Associated Press|
|Even after the mud slinging between Brett Favre and the Packers, it seems No. 4 is in good standing with the fans.|
The Green Bay Packers are understandably cautious about picking the right time to retire Brett Favre's number.
The question is, are they being a little too cautious?
I've been as critical as anyone of the silly ping-pong game that Favre likes to play each offseason with his retirement decision. And it makes perfect sense for the Packers not to trust whether he really means it this time, because he has yet to demonstrate he ever really means it.
The Packers want to do this right -- with a ceremony befitting the magnitude of retiring the number of the most iconic player in the Packers' storied history -- and the first misstep would be to plan it ... only to have Favre make yet another comeback.
Still, I found it a little unsettling that team president Mark Murphy told fans on the Packers' "Tailgate Tour" that he thinks "it's probably going to be a few years" before Favre's No. 4 would be retired.
The timetable speaks to what remains an overwhelmingly wide gap in the relationship between Favre and the Packers. It speaks to lingering hard feelings and a lack of trust, mostly on Favre's part because he was the one who felt betrayed when the club decided the time had come to transition to his successor, Aaron Rodgers. Favre also was the one who played three more seasons after announcing his "retirement" after what would prove to be his final season in Green Bay.
Besides making sure that Favre is going to stick to his latest retirement decision, the Packers want more time for those old wounds to heal.
But isn't "a few years" a bit much?
Putting together a proper sendoff for Favre as a Packer and an NFL star should be a mutual endeavor. And if Favre, as he has insisted publicly, is truly serious about hanging up his cleats for good, he should be willing to work with the team to make it the rousing success it deserves to be. The Packers have an equal responsibility to do everything possible to make Favre feel that they are truly welcoming him back with open arms.
Murphy should have been able to gather by the applause he received after mentioning the organization's intentions to retire Favre's number that a sizable number of Green Bay fans still have a special place for him in their collective heart. Sure, in the course of wanting to exact some revenge on Packers management, he hurt many of his own loyalists by spending the past two seasons in a Minnesota Vikings uniform.
But they will forgive, even if they won't forget. They would still look forward to seeing the number many of them continue to wear retired, with Favre standing in the middle of Lambeau Field to share the moment with them. The ceremony, as with all such ceremonies, would actually be more for them than for Favre.
While still riding the wave of good feelings from last February's Super Bowl victory, the Packers should be as proactive as they can reasonably be to collaborate on giving Favre an honor he deserves as soon as possible.
If it's something that can't come together for 2011, then 2012 should be the latest it happens. Packers fans are waiting.
Follow Vic Carucci on Twitter @viccarucci.