The much-hyped return of Brett Favre to Lambeau Field Sunday has riled up many Green Bay Packers fans, and led to a mock funeral, the renaming of a city street, and even an official anti-Favre mayoral declaration.
"I will tell you, this is not just another game," Green Bay mayor James Schmitt told MPR News.
On Friday, an Appleton radio station staged a mock funeral for the one-time Packers quarterback. Mourners placed a mannequin dressed in Wrangler jeans and a Vikings jersey into a purple satin-lined coffin. The radio station, 105.7 WAPL, held visitation hours to help fans grieve.
"We think what we need is some closure for Green Bay Packers fans," radio host Len Nelson told ESPN. "A lot of fans have said, 'You know, when Brett joined the Vikings that was it. He's dead to us now.' And if someone's dead, you have to have a funeral."
Former fans can leave their old Favre memorabilia at the foot of his casket, which will lie in state over the weekend at a Green Bay bar.
The station plans to donate the items to Goodwill. Attendees can also contribute money to the Deanna Favre Hope Foundation, a charity founded by Favre's wife to help women with breast cancer.
"We're not all evil about this," Nelson said.
Mayor Schmitt has not endorsed the funeral, saying, "I don't think that's who we are here."
Instead, he has found other ways to greet the two-time Super Bowl champion.
The city renamed a city street from Minnesota Avenue to Aaron Rodgers Drive, to celebrate the Packer's current quarterback.
The new street sign was promptly stolen, then recovered by police, who cited a 47-year-old Green Bay man after catching him with the sign in his car early Saturday.
The mayor decided not to change the name of Brett Favre Pass, despite the requests of some residents.
"I will say there were some suggestions to, with Brett Favre Pass, to take the 'p' off of there, but I said, 'No, we're going to continue our respect for Brett," Schmitt said. "We took the high road."
The mayor also declared Friday "Flip Flop Friday" because of Favre's serial indecision about whether to retire. City hall officials and residents donned appropriate footwear for the occasion.
Schmitt said he still respects Favre's achievements during his 16 years at Green Bay. "He was here a long time," he said. "He did a lot on the field. I can tell you as mayor, he did a lot off the field, too. But with all that said, he does play for the enemy now."
The game starts at 3:15 p.m. Sunday. The Vikings defeated the Packers, 30-23, during their first match-off of the season at the Metrodome on Oct. 5.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)