Fans, team officials hail Brett Favre on day of Packers Hall induction

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Former Green Bay Packers president Bob Harlan called him the "greatest player we've ever had," but on the day Brett Favre was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame and his No. 4 retired, the legendary former quarterback was more humbled by the fans.

More than 67,000 of them packed Lambeau Field to watch Favre's induction on the stadium video boards, a sign that all had been forgiven for the way his career in Green Bay ended in the summer of 2008, when he unretired and was traded to the New York Jets, only to play two more seasons for the rival Minnesota Vikings.

"It was like I never left," Favre said Saturday of walking back onto Lambeau Field. "It was a great feeling."

Favre is the sixth Packers player to have a number retired by the team, joining Tony Canadeo (3), Don Hutson (14), Bart Starr (15), Ray Nitschke (66) and Reggie White (92).

His No. 4 was officially retired Saturday night.

Saturday marked Favre's first time at Lambeau Field as a member of the Packers family since 2008. The response was much different than the boos he received when he played here with the Vikings in 2009 and 2010.

This time, Favre was welcomed with a 2½-minute standing ovation and chants of "MVP! MVP!" when he came out of the tunnel.

"I have to admit, I'm a little bit embarrassed that all this is for me," Favre told the crowd. "I really am. I loved to play football. I dreamed of playing football. I dreamed of playing in the Super Bowl. I never dreamed of standing here before you in a moment like this. This is way beyond what I dreamed of, and I am so honored."

His youngest daughter, 16-year-old Breleigh, perhaps said it best shortly after the event sold out within a few hours.

"She comes home and uncharacteristically says, 'Hey Dad, did you hear they sold 67,000 tickets in an hour and a half?'" Favre recalled during Saturday's news conference. "And I said, 'Yeah.' She goes, 'They must really like you.' And for her, that's saying a lot. But it really says a lot about the whole situation.

"If there were ever any doubts prior to the tickets going on sale, there's not anymore. And what a way to show that you're welcomed back into the family. Just what an honor.

"And I'll be honest with you, I mean no disrespect by this: I am more honored by that than by the Hall of Fame induction in itself. I think that is such a tribute to the fans, and that's why Green Bay is Green Bay. Simple as that."

Favre got emotional when he retold that story in his address to the crowd, and did so again when he thanked the fans one last time.

"I can sit here and tell you thank you until tomorrow, and it wouldn't be enough," Favre said, fighting back tears.

In Favre's 16 seasons with the Packers, he won all three of his NFL MVPs and played in two Super Bowls, winning one.

"Believe me, I have played elsewhere, and there's nothing like this place," Favre told the crowd. "There's absolutely nothing like it. Where else can you get this many people in a stadium where there's not a game? Where else? Where else can you get this many people when there isn't a game? Only here. It's incredible."

With former Packers coach Mike Holmgren at his side during Saturday's news conference, Favre said one of his only regrets was that they won just a single title. But he blamed that, perhaps only half-jokingly, on Holmgren, who left after the 1998 season to become the Seattle Seahawks coach and general manager.

"Had he coached me for more years, I truly believe there would have been more championships," Favre said. "Even though it's hard to get there, it's hard to go back and it's hard to win them. That's not taking anything away from what we accomplished."

Former Packers general manager Ron Wolf, who hired Holmgren and traded for Favre in 1992, said those moves led to "the rebirth of without question the greatest franchise in professional sports."

Between Vince Lombardi's last title in 1967 and Favre's arrival in 1992, the Packers made only two playoff appearances.

"It's not four Super Bowls, but in my mind it's equally important because as Bob [Harlan] said and some of the others said, it was a resurgence, if you will, of this organization," Favre said. "It was always really a great organization, but it just kind of got, I don't want to say boring, but everyone was sort of used to being OK at best. I heard [about] the Lombardi years, the glory days, I heard that so many times because that's what you had to hold onto. Taking nothing away from what those guys did back then. Really, if anything, it's much respect to them that that's all you had to talk about.

"For us to be able to be a part in turning that around and all of a sudden now you're just sort of used to winning. The fear is you don't get too used to winning. You stay hungry and that's the key. That's what [Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy is] up against. But I take pride in that everyone's just kind of used to winning now. That's not a bad thing, and we were the ones that kind of started that off."

Although Favre's number was retired Saturday, it won't go up on the Lambeau Field façade until a ceremony during the Thanksgiving night game against the Chicago Bears this season. Favre is eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame next year.