GREEN BAY, Wis. — Brett Favre is returning to Titletown.
The quarterback, estranged from the franchise he helped resurrect during his 16-year career, will be inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame and have his number retired next July 18. Favre’s No. 4 will be unveiled on the Lambeau Field north end zone facade at halftime of a yet-to-be-determined game during the 2015 season.
“I’m truly honored,” Favre said Monday via conference call from his home in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. “It is time to come back.”
Favre, who holds virtually every meaningful NFL career quarterback record, famously retired at a tearful press conference in March 2008, only to change his mind and decide later that year that he still wanted to play, setting up an awkward showdown between him and the team he’d come to embody while winning three NFL MVP awards and leading the Packers to a Super Bowl title.
He was traded to the New York Jets for what would end up being a third-round draft pick, an acrimonious parting of the ways that divided the Packers’ loyal fan base. After one year with the Jets, Favre retired a second time, only to join the rival Minnesota Vikings, for whom he played two seasons.
Favre led the Vikings to two victories over the Packers during the 2009 season, when Minnesota advanced to the NFC championship game but lost to the eventual Super Bowl-champion New Orleans Saints.
In 2010, the Packers beat Favre and the Vikings twice on their way to the Super Bowl title, led by Favre’s successor, Aaron Rodgers. Favre retired for good following the 2010 season, while Rodgers went on to win the NFL MVP award in 2011.
Former Packers president/CEO Bob Harlan served as the intermediary and brought the two sides back together. General manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy, who made the decision to part ways with Favre in 2008, attended Monday’s news conference but did not speak with reporters.
“It’s great to have old friends home again,” Harlan said.
Harlan said the team, the Packers Hall of Fame and the Favre family had agreed in principle to the idea last November.
“In all honesty, I was probably more ready sooner than everyone else was,” Favre said. “I knew this moment would come ... and I’m just glad we’re here, it’s in stone, and it will be done.”
Favre said he hoped to return to Lambeau Field this season, perhaps for a ceremonial coin flip with former Packers quarterback and Pro Football Hall of Famer Bart Starr.
“I just think that would be an electric moment,” said Favre, who also said he’d love to pose for what would surely be an iconic photo: Starr, Favre and Rodgers.
Favre also said he would like former general manager Ron Wolf, who gave up a first-round pick to acquire Favre from the Atlanta Falcons in February 1992, and former coach Mike Holmgren, who helped harness his immense talent, to also be part of the celebration of his return.
“Without Ron (Wolf), I would not be on this phone right now and we would not be having this discussion,” Favre said.
Favre disputed that he was concerned about a negative fan reaction upon his return to Lambeau Field, having been booed mercilessly during his returns with the Vikings.
“Will 100 percent of the people be for you? That’s never the case,” Favre said. “But I know Packers fans as well as anyone, and there’s no one like them.”
The Packers have retired just five numbers in their 94-year history: Tony Canadeo’s No. 3, Don Hutson’s No. 14, Starr’s No. 15, Ray Nitschke’s No. 66 and Reggie White’s No. 92. Favre is eligible for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of the 2016 class. Once he is enshrined there, his name will be placed in the team’s ring of honor at Lambeau Field.
“My goodness, 16 years in Green Bay - wonderful years,” Favre said. “That’s what I am, that’s how I look at myself and how I will be remembered: As a Packer.”