This is a special contribution from The Scoop’s Founder, Jamie Kelly. Listen to her on The Scoop Radio every Monday & Wednesday night from 9-11pm CDT on KTSR-db, part of the Texas Sports Review Radio Network.
This week has been an emotional week for me. Today, my childhood hero and the best athlete I’ve ever seen finally takes his place among the greatest to ever wear the green and gold.
My story goes far beyond football. This is a story about a father and daughter brought immeasurably closer by the common bond of football, and watching a legend cement his place in history before our eyes.
In the 1980s, if your favorite team happened to be in another market, you had to go to some lengths to watch them on television every week. Especially if your favorite team was, shall we say, awful. My dad, being the techie geek that he was, went out and got us a home satellite dish. He mounted the large, cumbersome monstrosity on a wooden pallet, and positioned it carefully in the backyard between the sandbox and the swingset.
Sundays were part magic and part dumb luck. Dad would go out into the backyard, weather be damned, and lay under the dish, moving it ever-so-slightly in each direction, while I stood in front of the television and shouted every time the black and white fuzz showed glimmers of green and gold.
One Sunday in 1992, like many other Sundays, Dad & I were gathered around the TV watching Don Majkowski try to once again pull a rabbit out of his hat. The Packers were down 31-3 to the Bucs, and the Majik Man was sent to the bench for the entire second half. In came some wide-eyed kid named Favre. “Fa-ver? Fa-vrah? Fav-ray?” Hell, nobody knew how to pronounce his name. Nobody cared either. His first pass as a Packer was a completion to himself for a loss of 7 yards.
The following week, Majkowski went down, and the legend of Favre began. After four fumbles and a frenzied Lambeau crowd chanting for Ty Detmer, he led the Packers to a 24-23 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
What followed was a lifetime of memories. From the scrambling to the ill-advised passes to the interceptions to the Super Bowl to the retirement(s), Favre took us on a journey that will never be forgotten.
The pinnacle took place on a cool and rainy day in November 2001. By a pure stroke of luck, Dad and I found ourselves waiting outside the ticket office at Lambeau Field for the players’ tickets to be released. Through a mutual friend from Baylor, I had been put in touch with Santana Dotson, who left us two tickets for a game against the Atlanta Falcons.
The nerves were building as game time approached, and our tickets still hadn’t materialized. Had we made the long trek from Texas for nothing? Would we end up listening to the sounds of Lambeau from the parking lot? Dad and I both tried to keep our cool, but we both knew that panic was starting to set in.
Finally, the players’ tickets were released, and we headed into the building that we had only seen on television, not knowing or caring where our seats were. We were truly just happy to be there. That first glimpse of the somewhat soggy tundra was breathtaking. We stood in one of the breezeways and took it all in, replaying memories of games gone by. Making our way through the sights, sounds, and smells of game day at Lambeau, we soon realized that we had the best seats in the house: second row, 50-yard line behind the Packers bench.
It didn’t even matter to us that the day ended with a loss. It was the adventure of a lifetime, our trip to Graceland, and the memories will never die. This love affair with the Green Bay Packers, which has been made so exciting by the presence of a kid from Mississippi, was made to last.
Here I sit today with my own little Packer Backer, sharing with her the stories of that gunslinger who stole our hearts. Yes he’s a flawed man. Yes he made mistakes. But who are we to judge the mistakes of others? His pure joy in playing a kid’s game is what made us love him, and that joy is what the world will remember.
Thanks for a lifetime of memories, 4.