DESERET NEWS, SUNDAY, SEPT. 14, 2008 DX

W

rett's a jet? Seriously?

I know he was traded from the Packers to the Jets more than a month ago. He's held press conferences and played in preseason games wearing a new shade of green. I haven't been living in a cave since the big trade.

But today it becomes real when the Jets open the 2008 regular season in Miami against the Dolphins.

How are cheeseheads supposed to feel about this?

Full disclosure here: I've been a Green Bay fan for many years. I have Packer hats, jerseys, shirts, mugs and various other items collected through the years, including two cheeseheads. I don't know how that happened. I also have a piggybank. Can't explain that one either.

This Favre situation is also tough to explain and understand. Since free agency began, team executives and players haven't been the most loyal people around. But if there was ever a player who earned the right to retire and un-retire, no questions asked, it is Favre.

When the Packers' 2007 season ended in the bitter cold at Lambeau Field, I had a feeling an era had also ended in Green Bay. I was lucky enough to not only attend the NFC Championship game last winter, but I also got the chance to walk on the frozen tundra shortly after the game ended. That's when I got the nagging feeling that things would never be the same in Green Bay.

When Favre retired in March, it seemed my hunches were crystal clear. That changed in July when the news broke that Favre wanted to return to the Packers and the Packers didn't want him.

So the guy who started in 253 consecutive games, with various ailments such as a broken thumb (kind of an important body part for a quarterback), sprained ankles, bumps, bruises and a heavy heart the day after his father died, couldn't return to the team because he would be putting it in a bad position?

Shortly after the trade, I bought a Jets T-shirt. You should have heard my co-workers burst out in laughter when they saw it. Yep, Mr. Green Bay was a turncoat.

Not entirely. It didn't mean I was abandoning the Packers. But the standoff between Favre and the Packers made me question why sports fans are held to a different standard than the front-office types, coaches and players who comprise their favorite teams.

What do we really root for as sports fans? The uniforms? Their history? The front office? For me, it's about the players. Few people can understand, especially during the free-agency era, what a player like Favre means to a fan base. For 16 years, Green Bay fans could count on No. 4 being in the huddle and under center. The range of how games were going to go was all over the spectrum, but you at least knew he was trying to win and trying to make things happen.

Few athletes can identify with one franchise like Favre and the Packers. And few franchises have tested the loyalty of their fan base like the Packers this offseason. Think of how you'd feel if John Stockton was dealt to the Knicks late in his career. Or if you're a Broncos fan, and if Denver would have dealt John Elway late in his career.

I've been told and I recently heard on a radio show that real men don't change their favorite team. I disagree. People can change jobs when they have lousy employers, and they can get divorces. But no matter what happens, they are to keep rooting for the same team.

It must be because of all those free tickets owners and players send to their loyal fans. And because of how affordable tickets are to pro games these days. It's also because owners would never do anything as shady as coming up with something like a Personal Seat License (PSL), which gives fans the right to buy the season tickets they were already going to buy.

Oops, bad examples.

Back in January, I didn't know which era ended when the Packers' season stopped one game short of the Super Bowl. We all know now it was the Favre era in Green Bay that came to a close. I'm not happy with it, but I'm not going to let a couple of doofuses like Packers general manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy ruin 16 years of memories.

I'll still wear green and gold on my sleeve. But go ahead and make some room for me on that Jets bandwagon.


E-MAIL: aaragon@desnews.com