GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Aaron Rodgers is looking forward to seeing Brett Favre again, but the Green Bay Packers quarterback better keep his helmet in a secure location with his predecessor back in the building.
In advance of Favre's return to Lambeau Field to have his retired No. 4 unveiled on the north end zone facade during Thursday's game against the Chicago Bears, Rodgers recalled Tuesday how Favre, who might have been an even better prankster than he was a quarterback, got Rodgers good during his time as Favre's understudy, from 2005 through 2007.
Before one midweek practice, Favre placed a helmet on a table inside the Packers' locker room with a couple of markers, as players often do with memorabilia they need signed for charity events or their own collections. Except this helmet wasn't a replica -- it was the backup QB's helmet for practices and games.
"Everybody signed it, and I had to go down to practice with [it]," Rodgers recounted with a chuckle after practice Tuesday. "Everybody had signed it, including myself, on my own helmet."
After the initial embarrassment, it dawned on Rodgers that he had some valuable signatures on that helmet.
"I realized, 'That's got Favre's and some other guys' autographs -- don't wipe it off,'" Rodgers said.
Alas, that realization came too late, as equipment manager Gordon "Red" Batty successfully removed most of the ink before Rodgers could stop him.
"You just had to watch yourself sometimes around him because [he was] always trying to incite some pranks," Rodgers said. "So you had to be careful."
The Favre-Rodgers relationship wasn't always so chummy. The veteran quarterback was less than thrilled when the team drafted Rodgers with its first-round pick in 2005, and Favre's departure went from awkward to downright ugly during training camp in 2008. But when the two shared the stage at the 2013 NFL Honors event to present Peyton Manning with the NFL MVP award, it served as a catalyst for the Packers' reconciliation with their prodigal quarterback.
Rodgers said he didn't realize the impact his and Favre's intentionally awkward on-stage appearance would have.
"At the time, I think it was about having some fun. We both are friends with Maura [Mandt], who is a producer of the show [and] came up with the idea," Rodgers said. "We actually met the night before and talked about it, kind of ran a couple lines, and then we got out there and it was an ad-lib. It turned into a fun deal. The fans enjoyed it.
"I think the people in the audience didn't maybe at first know that it wasn't as awkward as it might have seemed in the beginning. We were having some fun with it, but it's good to do things like that and be comfortable with what you've accomplished and move forward. I think the healing process is great, [and it's great] to really honor him for what he accomplished here and move forward together."
Rodgers also is looking forward to seeing Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Bart Starr, the Packers icon who is slated to attend Thursday night's festivities while he continues to recover from multiple strokes and a heart attack suffered in the fall of 2014.
Although Rodgers will be in the locker room with the team making halftime adjustments when Favre is honored, he said he plans to seek out Starr, whom he considers a mentor and role model, before the game.
"Bart's been such a great encouragement to me since I was drafted here, and I really have appreciated all of our conversations over the years with him and his lovely wife," Rodgers said. "He was kind enough to do my [Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer] charity event a few years ago, and I was also able to do another charity event with him.
"It's always tough to follow him speaking because he's had such incredible stories, whether he's talking about Super Bowls or NFL championships or the Ice Bowl. It's always fun being around him, but he's such a positive, encouraging person. It'll be great to see him."