GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Brett Favre will go into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a Green Bay Packer. Or at least it feels that way.
To be clear, players don't enter the Hall as a member of a certain team, per se. Unlike the Baseball Hall of Fame, whose inductees must decide on which team logo they'd like to have depicted on their hat on their plaque -- if they spent portions of their careers on different clubs -- the Pro Football Hall of Fame requires no such delineation.
But after his acrimonious departure from Green Bay during the summer of 2008, and two emotionally charged seasons -- for both him personally and the Packers -- with the archrival Minnesota Vikings, the fact that Favre and the Packers are on speaking terms again in advance of his induction is a big deal to the team and its fans.
It's as if their prodigal quarterback has come home.
"I think it's important for the organization and the player to be in a good place," said Packers general manager Ted Thompson, who made the decision in August 2008 to trade the unretired Favre to the New York Jets after 16 seasons as the face of the franchise. "Circumstances put us all in situations that we were uncomfortable with. I think that happens in life. Life throws you curveballs sometimes and sometimes you think you're doing the right thing and maybe you're not. Or vice versa.
"In terms of Brett and the Green Bay Packers, I'm glad that that part is over with."
But what if it weren't?
What if Favre, during his incredible turn-back-the-clock season of 2009, had led the Vikings to that franchise's first Super Bowl title instead of throwing that across-his-body, This-Is-Not-Detroit-Man interception in the closing moments of regulation of Minnesota's overtime loss to the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship Game?
And what if, after losing -- badly -- in their two showdowns with Favre in 2009, the Packers hadn't come back and beaten him twice in 2010, en route to the Super Bowl XLV title?
Packers president Mark Murphy has long said that it was important to the organization to have Favre back in the fold before he got the call to Canton, Ohio. He reiterated that in an interview with ESPN.com earlier this week.
But, Murphy admitted, a Vikings championship in Super Bowl XLIV would likely have made it much harder for the Packers' passionate fans to forgive and forget.
"Definitely, no question, things would have been different," Murphy said. "And in 2010, we won the Super Bowl, which is the other side of it."
The road to reconciliation was a long one for Favre and the Packers, starting when he and his successor, Aaron Rodgers, shared the stage at the NFL Honors event in February 2013. It culminated in Favre having his number retired and being inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame last summer, with Favre returning to Lambeau Field again on Thanksgiving to see his No. 4 unveiled on the north end zone façade and to share the field with another Packers legend, Bart Starr.
That made it easier for Packers fans to expunge from their memories just how masterful Favre was during that 2009 season, setting a career-high passer rating of 107.2 -- higher than his passer rating in any of his three NFL MVP seasons -- while throwing for 4,202 yards with 33 touchdown passes and just seven interceptions, the only time in his 19-year career as a starter that he had single-digit interceptions.
After all, some Packers fans arriving early in Canton for Saturday's induction ceremony were probably taken aback when they saw a Vikings jersey included in the Hall's mock locker display of Favre artifacts. For at least part of the fan base, those years -- an era that inspired a documentary called "Last Day at Lambeau" -- have been scrubbed from their mental history books.
Meanwhile, Vikings fans surely haven't forgotten their disappointment. Last year, in a poll by ESPN's NFL Live, Favre's interception against the Saints was voted the No. 1 play Vikings fans wish they could change, beating out even kicker Gary Anderson's stunning missed field goal in the 1998 NFC Championship Game.
Considering how much heartbreak Vikings fans have experienced -- the team lost Super Bowls IV, VIII, IX and XI -- winning Super Bowl XLIV would have likely made Favre as big a hero in Minnesota as he is in Wisconsin for leading the Packers out of the franchise's post-Lombardi depression of the 1970s and '80s.
That may not have sat well with Packers fans -- as kicker Ryan Longwell, who spent 11 of his 15 NFL seasons as Favre's teammate in Green Bay and Minnesota, can attest. Longwell still gets grief from Packers fans for a quip about Green Bay's lack of restaurant options when he left as a free agent in 2006.
"It may have taken a little longer," Longwell said of Packers fans re-embracing Favre. "[But] I don't think it changes. We had an unbelievable team in '09, he had an unbelievable year. We didn't win [the NFC Championship Game], and we didn't get to the Super Bowl, so we don't really have to worry about that.
"But having said that, I think what he gave to the Packers and the franchise [is obvious]. I mean, looking at the new Lambeau Field. There's a lot of things -- whether he wins a Super Bowl or not in Minnesota -- that Brett is maybe not solely responsible for, but hugely responsible for, for turning that franchise into what it is today. You don't have the multiple decades of winning if it's not for that guy.
"Time and perspective heals all, and everything happens for a reason, like I've always said. We are where we are right now, and everything worked out like it probably should have."
While delivering a championship to the Twin Cities would not have erased all Favre accomplished with the Packers, it's clear the team is glad that both sides were able to let bygones be bygones in time for this weekend.
"You never want to induct somebody into the Hall of Fame when not everybody is feeling good about it," said Murphy, who was in his first year as the Packers president when Favre retired in March 2008 -- and subsequently changed his mind. "As time has gone on, it's like people have said, 'Time heals all wounds.' Last summer was a real important step in the process.
"It's great to have him back."