ASHWAUBENON, WI—Although his critics and fans alike generally agree that NFL veteran Brett Favre is well past his prime, his ability to captivate an audience was demonstrated yet again Tuesday night when a raucous, over-capacity Lambeau Field crowd of 73,127 paid to see the Super Bowl-winning three-time MVP fitted for a new suit.
"I know I'm hardly an impartial observer, but I'd have to say he looked good out there," first-year Packer coach Mike McCarthy said after watching his quarterback get a feel for the single-breasted two-button dark wool suit. "I think this is going to be a good fit for him, although obviously they had to make some adjustments out there for his big arm. I like that he's decided to keep it simple, play to his strengths, and just enjoy this new suit in the time he has left in Green Bay."
"Plus, you could tell the crowd just loved it," McCarthy added.
Fans began lining up in mid-afternoon for Favre's 8 p.m. fitting, a late addition to the Packer preseason calendar made only after Favre purchased the Brooks Brothers suit to wear at upcoming formal occasions and announced his intention to have it altered to fit him more precisely. The $65 tickets sold out within six hours of the fitting's announcement on July 26, despite the fact that no football would be played, Favre would not be miked for the event, and the tailors in question would be traveling into town from Chicago, home of the hated arch-rival Bears. The stands filled with cheering green-and-gold-clad fans, none of whom wore their own suits to the event, an hour before Favre took the field.
"I'd call this whole thing a pretty big success," said longtime Packer fan David Herubin, who flew in from New York to watch Favre try the new suit on for size. "Brett got a huge reception like he always does, and he looked comfortable right away. Loose, but not too loose."
"There were huge cheers when he lifted his arms away from his sides so they could see if his jacket was bunching up, and again when they had the little 'chalk-talk' about the break on his trousers," Herubin continued. "Sure, he had a classic Favre moment when he made a bad adjustment on the fly, but he was obviously out of his comfort zone. Still, when he crossed his arms to check if he had room across the shoulders? The place went crazy. Classic Brett. That's the kind of thing we'll miss up here when he's gone."
Not everyone who took in the sight of Favre's pants being taken in thought it would be a good fit in the Green Bay system. "Favre should do himself a favor and hang it up right now," said Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel sportswriter Cliff Christl, who watched from the packed Lambeau Field press box along with reporters from 48 different news organizations. "You can talk inseam, sleeve length, taper and cuffs all day, but this is a game of inches, and I just wasn't impressed with what I saw out there. There's a certain standard that Green Bay fans expect, and that suit just doesn't measure up, not to the suits Favre wore in his Super Bowl seasons, not even to Bart Starr's old suits."
Still, the reaction was generally, if not overwhelmingly, positive. "People who watched Favre from the stands tonight don't even understand the little things he does that make him so great," said football analyst Larry McCarren, who covered Favre's 90-minute measuring, fitting, and pinning for the Green Bay Packers Radio Network. "The study, the preparation, the gunslinger attitude that let him carry off a polished, classic suit with a suppressed waist and a nice understated cut. No pleats, no peaked lapels, just a good lean two-piece set off with a strong, mature silk tie, a good cotton shirt, and maybe a small pocket square just to keep 'em honest."
"After all these years, the man can still carry a whole suit on his shoulders," McCarren added.