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GREEN BAY, Wis. — After six years apart, Brett Favre needed just six words to say everything so many Green Bay Packers fans have been waiting to hear.

"It is time to come back," Favre said Monday via teleconference, minutes after the Packers and independent Packers Hall of Fame Inc. announced the record-setting quarterback will be enshrined and have his No. 4 jersey retired at the team's annual hall of banquet July 18, 2015.

Favre, 44, and his family will also be honored at a game during the 2015 season, when his name and number will be added to the façade above the north end zone at Lambeau Field — a stadium that might no longer exist had he not breathed life into the franchise in the early 1990s.

And Favre said he hopes to return even sooner — perhaps flip a coin with fellow Packers legend Bart Starr before a game this season and solidify a reunion that probably was inevitable, but sure was hard to fathom during Favre's messy exit from Green Bay in the summer of 2008.

Backlash against Favre from fans intensified in 2009 when he retired and unretired for the second consecutive year after one season with the New York Jets and signed with Green Bay's division rival, the Minnesota Vikings.

"Will 100% of the people be for you? That's never the case," Favre said. "But I know the Packers fans as well as anyone, and there's no one like them.

"That's what I am, is a Packer."

Former Packers chairman and CEO Bob Harlan told USA TODAY Sports he contacted Favre just before Thanksgiving with the idea of the dual induction and number retirement, the first of its kind for this storied franchise.

The team held off announcing the move until Monday to avoid overshadowing the moment for Ahman Green and Ken Ruettgers, who were inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame on July 19. Favre's selection was "unanimous", said Perry Kidder, president of Packers Hall of Fame Inc.

"I never doubted that it would happen. I didn't know it would exactly happen this way," Harlan told USA TODAY Sports. "What (Favre) and Ron Wolf and Mike Holmgren and Reggie White were to this franchise — that was the foundation that brought us back."

Wolf was the general manager, Holmgren the coach and White the star defensive end when the Packers emerged from a dark period — one playoff trip in 20 years — to become an NFC power, going to consecutive Super Bowls and winning one over the New England Patriots in January 1997.

Favre won three consecutive MVPs and countless fans in the NFL's smallest market with his play and outgoing personality. In 2000, Brown County voters approved a referendum establishing a sales tax to pay for renovations to Lambeau, which continues to be expanded and upgraded to keep it among the league's best facilities.

"Brett had to come back and be a part of this family," Harlan said. "It would've been a sin if he wasn't."

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Favre's initial retirement in 2008, highly public feud with general manager Ted Thompson, the trade to the Jets, the two seasons with the hated Vikings — all seemed forgotten among the Packers honchos at Monday's announcement and the fans milling outside the stadium.

"I kind of felt sorry for him actually, felt like he got jettisoned out," said Aaron Janke, 39, a Packers fan who lives in Port Ritchie, Fla. "Then when he went to the Vikings, I was like, it's kind of a kick in the face. But now — let bygones be bygones."

Randy Hinrichs, 37, of Lincoln, Neb., proposed to his now-wife, Christina, in 2004 after she won a chance to meet Favre at the team's fan fest and gave it to him instead. Hinrichs said he "got a lot of looks" when he wore a No. 4 jersey to the annual Family Night scrimmage last year but doesn't expect boos when Favre returns.

"I'm sure there will be some idiots," Hinrichs said. "Some people hold grudges longer."

Favre heard plenty of boos the last time he visited Lambeau Field on Oct. 24, 2010 — a 28-24 Packers win over the Vikings, who had beaten Green Bay twice the previous season with Favre under center on the way to the NFC Championship Game.

As of next fall, Favre will have a permanent place on the stadium wall, with another likely to come in 2016 alongside the rest of the Packers greats who have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

"I think we all knew it was a matter of time," Favre said.

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Follow Tom Pelissero on Twitter @TomPelissero

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