"Packer Preview" Owes A Debt to Brett

On Sunday, August 31st, I'll settle in behind the mic in the KFAN studio and kick off season number 19 of "Packer Preview," the first and to this day the only, team-centered radio show airing on its arch rival's flagship station.

It would never have happened, if not for Brett Favre. The only way it gets off the ground is if the team is a Super Bowl contender. When I first pitched the show to the brain wizards at KFAN in the summer of 1995, the Pack was an up and coming powerhouse, led by its precocious and magical young quarterback. But KFAN was coming to the end of its first contract as the home of the Vikings and the last thing they wanted to do was stir things up with a Packers show.

But the Vikings flipped the rights to WCCO after the season, so I went back to the goochies and reminded them that the Pack was coming off an NFC title game appearance and would be a Super Bowl favorite in '96. "Packer Preview" was green-lighted and my first season was Brett Favre's Super Bowl season.

The Packers have always been incredibly popular in the Twin Cities, dating back to the time before the Vikings came to be. My dad grew up in St. Paul in the 40s and he was a Packer fan. Add in the number of people (like me) who discovered what a great metropolitan area the Twin Cities is and migrated over from the land of cheese, and you understand why you'll undoubtedly find one of us on your block or at your office.

By the mid-90s, Packer mania was rampant in the Twin Cities, since it looked like Favre, Reggie and the Packers were ready to take over and win a few Super Bowls. OK, that didn't happen but the Packers won one, lost one and were a perennial playoff player. And the appetite for Packers conversation was immense.

And it allowed me to remain on the air at KFAN, even when they reclaimed the rights to the team in 2000. My show got bumped back an hour from 9am to 8am (and this season we're on from 7am-8am), but they allowed me to stay, understanding that ours was a unique rivalry and the truth is, they've been one of Clear Channel's shining stars for years because they like to think and program outside the box.

But back to where I started. Favre is the reason my show ever happened, but longtime listeners know I was not pleased with #4 as the messy separation and divorce went down. For 16 seasons though, he gave us, week in and week out, NFL theater at the highest level. Every game was an adventure and we never felt we were out of a game until the last second ticked off. It was never dull. As a child of the 70s, I saw plenty of dull Packers seasons.

In this era of pinball offenses, records are broken weekly, it seems. Most of today's QB records will be taken with a grain of salt, as fans try to compare Montana to Elway to Manning to Rodgers to Luck, etc.

But Favre's two most meaningful records will stand the test of time. The consecutive game streak will never be broken. His wins record may be broken by Manning (Favre leads by 19), but 186 wins by a starting QB will look impressive for as long as the NFL is around.

We Packers fans didn't like the way it ended. Favre put the Packers in a very difficult spot and the team made what I thought was the only decision to make. But he is one of the greatest QBs of all time and certainly one of the three greatest Packers (I still put Hutson and Nitschke ahead of him. After much reflection, I reluctantly put him ahead of Starr).

It's been seven years. It's time to move on and recognize where Favre sits in the annals of Packers lore. It was never a question that his would be the sixth number retired. I thought this would be the year. The December Monday night game against the Falcons seemed like the perfect platform--honoring Favre with the team that drafted him in the house. But by next year the new and improved Packer Hall of Fame will open and this will become its signature event.

Then on one special night next season, maybe the opener, we'll see #4 join the other hallowed Packer numbers: 3, 14, 15, 66 and 92. Precisely where it belongs.

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