CANTON, Ohio – He was the only one to receive a full standing ovation when he put on his gold jacket.
Of course, the Canton Civic Center crowd was a little biased.
Former quarterback Brett Favre received his Hall of Fame jacket on Thursday night amidst a partisan Packers gathering that appreciated everything green and gold about the evening.
When more than 100 present Hall of Famers were announced, some of the largest cheers came for the five former Packers in the house – Willie Davis, James Lofton, Jim Taylor, Dave Robinson and Ron Wolf.
Then when Favre was first introduced and walked the gauntlet of Hall members in attendance, the Green Bay fans audibly chanted “Go Pack Go!” They even let out a whoop when a highlight of last season’s Hail Mary in Detroit was played, and Favre had nothing to do with that.
Saturday night’s induction ceremony will be the culmination of Favre’s coronation and a weekend reunion for legions of Packers fans.
But Thursday was memorable in and of itself for the iconic quarterback as he waited – and waited, through seemingly interminable commercial breaks on NFL Network – to be the last inductee to don the famously colored threads.
“It’s pretty awesome, pretty stressful, pretty tiring, but it’s all good,” Favre said during a brief interview that was part of the live broadcast. Keeping the mood light, he even joked about a conversation he had during dinner with fellow inductee and former Packers outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene.
The two argued about why each’s top highlight against the other wasn’t included in the video montages for all to see. Favre said one of the “worst hits” he took in his career was from Greene, while one of his “best juke moves” fooled the NFL’s third all-time leading sack man. But this night wasn’t about one-upmanship.
It was more about presence, pageantry and camaraderie, particularly during that walk through the gauntlet of gold jackets, which Favre put in perspective his own way.
“These are guys you grow up watching on TV, idolizing, and guys I played against, enemies,” he said. “Now we’re in this club together, and they’re real. They’re right there. It was a special moment.”
Favre stopped for a group picture with the other former Packers along the path. Earlier, he shared a hearty handshake and hug next to the stage with Wolf, who was inducted a year ago.
Forever connected, Wolf and Favre going into the Hall in consecutive years is the way it should be, and their bronze busts will reside next to one another inside the shrine.
During one commercial break, a clip of John Madden’s induction speech from 2006 was played for the crowd, during which the former coach and broadcaster described how he believes the Hall’s busts talk to one another each night when everyone goes home.
One can only wonder what Favre and Wolf might say to each other outside the public eye in the coming decades.
This is as close to immortality as a football player can get, and even NFL Network studio host and event emcee Rich Eisen – who channeled Madden’s sentiment when he said, “The busts come alive tonight at the Gold Jacket Ceremony” – still didn’t want to let Favre go there quite yet.
Eisen wasn’t even two minutes into his opening remarks at the start of the banquet before he made the obligatory crack about Favre perhaps announcing his decision to keep playing.
But Eisen’s initial introduction of Favre struck the perfect chord: “No. 4 in your program, no. 1 in your hearts.”
That he is for an entire generation (or three) of Packers fans, who aren’t done letting Canton and its Hall of Fame know they’re here.