Destiny can come from the most unexpected of places.
One moment you’re wondering if things will ever improve and suddenly life is better than you ever thought possible.
For some NFL teams this has been true.
A long period of mediocrity suddenly ends with the arrival of a transformational coach or player.
It’s even more rewarding when that person outperforms what was expected.
Such a team was the Green Bay Packers of the 1970s and 80s.
The organization had gone through successful periods in their past including victories in the first two Super Bowls.
After that, it was a long slog of forgettable football, save for two playoff seasons.
It’s likely that this spiral would have continued if it wasn’t for two people.
Coach Mike Holmgren was hired by Green Bay in 1992.
That same year, the team made a trade with Atlanta for a no-name quarterback out of Southern Mississippi who was known more for drinking beer than playing football.
Brett Favre arrived with very little fanfare and a less than impressive skill set.
However, it wasn’t long before Favre had fans out of their seats wondering what he was going to do next.
His exasperating play and playful demeanor both angered and endeared him to coaches and teammates.
Slowly, but surely, the Packers were on top of the world and it was Favre who helped get them there.
This is the story of Brett Favre, a quarterback from a tiny town who became a Hall of Fame legend.
• PFHOF (2016)
• Super Bowl XXXI Champion🏆
• 3x NFL MVP
• NFL100 All-Time Team
• All-Decade 1990s, Second-Team
• 1995 NFL OPOY
• 11 Pro Bowls
• 6x All-Pro (3x First-Team) pic.twitter.com/JPB4DgHmdq
— Kevin Gallagher (@KevG163) October 10, 2020
Early Life and Playing for Irv
Brett Lorenzo Favre was born in Gulfport, Mississippi on October 10, 1969.
He was raised in the small town of Kiln (pronounced “kill”) by his parents, Irvin (Irv) and Bonita, both teachers.
Favre was one of three children.
He was an energetic boy who eventually needed an outlet to release his pent up energy.
When he attended Hancock North Central High School, Favre played baseball and football.
He would end up earning five varsity letters in baseball.
In football, Favre played for his father in a run oriented offense.
Typical of small town teams, he played quarterback, lineman, safety, kicker and punter.
Irv Favre could plainly see that his son had an arm, but the team also had a stable of good running backs.
Therefore, Irv used the wishbone offense to highlight his backs.
Of course, that meant that Brett was only throwing a handful of passes each game.
By the time his senior year arrived, Favre was begging his father to let him throw the ball more.
Each game passed with Irv sticking to his guns and what he knew best.
Irvin Favre looks like a dude you wouldn't want to mess with. pic.twitter.com/NZpcusnSsW
— Addicted to Helmets (@addicted2helmet) February 16, 2020
During the season a coach, Mark McHale, from Southern Mississippi watched the team play.
He had heard about Favre from a number of opposing coaches while on the recruiting trail.
Each time a coach mentioned Favre’s name, McHale was confused.
He understood that Hancock North Central was primarily a running team.
It struck him as odd that these coaches thought the quarterback was worth a look.
After calling and introducing himself to Irv, McHale attended a game.
As expected, Favre barely threw any passes and McHale left unimpressed.
Surprisingly, before McHale could leave the parking lot, Brett found him and begged him to return the following week to see him play.
Impressed by Favre’s moxie, McHale promised to return.
McHale arrived much earlier the following Friday.
He glued his eyes to Favre during warmups and couldn’t believe what he was seeing.
“Brett started throwing some deep balls. It was unbelievable! He could throw it deep and it had some smoke on it. His throws were pretty, with the right arc and nose path. I was impressed. Very impressed,” said McHale in his book 10 to 4.
It would stand to reason that, with McHale back in the stands, Irv would have allowed his son more freedom.
Instead, Brett threw five passes.
The entire game.
McHale caught up with Irv after the game and the coach asked McHale if he had been won over by his son.
McHale thought Irv was joking and remarked that five passes wasn’t nearly enough.
Irv was beside himself and begged McHale to come again the next Friday.
McHale eventually agreed but reminded the elder Favre that he had to see Brett throw the ball more.
Favre did throw more.
In fact, he threw the game winning touchdown against Long Beach High School to help the Hawks improve to 7-0.
The only problem was McHale couldn’t attend the game.
He returned again the next week and saw what he needed to see in the second quarter.
During a pass play on second down, Favre was scrambling before spotting a teammate in the end zone.
He stopped and set his feet, then unleashed a beauty for the score.
“The ball had flames and smoke coming off it,” said McHale. “The receiver caught it and I could hear the crack. I was convinced that Brett Favre was for real.”
It wasn’t an easy sell.
McHale had to convince Southern Mississippi head coach Jim Carmody to sign the young man from Kiln.
Finally, at the last minute on national signing day, Carmody gave a thumbs up for Favre, with the caveat that he would play free safety.
Excited, McHale called Favre to ask if he was still interested in a spot and willing to give 100%.
“Hell yeah, I’m still interested,” said Favre. “You won’t be sorry, Coach McHale.”
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 4, 2015
The University of Southern Mississippi
When Favre arrived at Southern Miss in late summer of 1987 the plan was to redshirt him for his first year.
It wasn’t long before Carmody and his coaching staff realized that Favre might be their best option at quarterback.
The signal callers already on the depth chart were not very good or inspiring.
Favre spent almost no time practicing with the defense (where Carmody had initially planned to stick him).
He began taking some reps at QB during practice and immediately turned heads.
During one particular practice, Carmody threw Favre to the wolves.
The offense was facing the first-team defense and going nowhere.
Favre came in with zero expectations from his teammates and most of the coaching staff.
— NFL (@NFL) December 16, 2013
Instead, as he took his first snap and the defense came crashing through the line, Favre shook off a few would-be tacklers.
He continued scrambling, pointed to where he wanted a receiver to run and delivered the ball.
“We all could hear the ball hit the receiver’s shoulder pads,” said McHale in the book Brett Favre: Gunslinger. “It was a 15-yard completion. You could see the eyes of the offensive players light up as they felt pride in gaining a first down against the first-team defense.”
As the first game of the ‘87 season approached, Carmody was not sold on his starting quarterback, Ailrick Young.
Young was not a very good starter.
He had a weak arm and lacked a deep ball.
The Golden Eagles were set to play Alabama in the first week of the season.
Carmody asked the coaching staff if they should take the redshirt off Favre and start him against the Tide.
The coaches laughed and mutually agreed that Favre was far from ready.
Carmody sided with his coaches and stuck with Young.
The result was a 38-6 ransacking of Southern Miss.
Carmody had enough.
He was tired of playing it safe and he knew the alumni were starting to get antsy.
The week of the Golden Eagles second game against Tulane, Carmody informed his staff that Favre would not be redshirting and that he would be suiting up for the game.
Despite the objection of the staff, Carmody had made up his mind.
When Favre found out, he was excited but didn’t actually believe he was going to start.
The night before the game, Favre and some buddies bought a case of cheap beer and played quarters.
Not one to imbibe while in high school, Favre had taken to drink pretty quickly.
Favre and his pals downed no less than 18 beers apiece, stayed up until three in the morning, then woke up four hours later for team breakfast and meetings.
NC State's 27-21 win at No. 12 FSU drops the Noles to 0-2 for the first time since 1989, when Brett Favre & Southern Miss knocked them off. pic.twitter.com/SbU65jRc9G
— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) September 23, 2017
According to teammates and coaches at the time, Favre was still drunk when he showed up for breakfast.
He went through the motions and dressed for the game.
While jogging to the field, Favre vomited into a trash can.
By the third quarter, with Favre nursing a hangover and Southern Miss down 16-10, Carmody yanked Young.
He looked over to the sideline and told Favre to get in the game.
At first Favre was confused and asked, “You want me to punt?”
“No,” said Carmody, “you’re going in.”
Favre looked at him wide-eyed, mumbled some choice expletives, found his helmet and entered the game.
At first the other players in the huddle looked confused as Favre sidled up to them.
The responses of his teammates were a mixture of disbelief and excitement.
They didn’t know what to expect from the young kid.
He showed them soon enough.
Acting as if he had been a starter for years, Favre took over for the rest of the game.
He led Southern Miss on two touchdown drives and won a come-from-behind 31-24 victory.
That was all Carmody needed to see and Favre was the starter the rest of the year.
The Golden Eagles finished the season 6-5 and Favre completed over 40% of his passes for 1,264 yards, 15 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
1988 and 1989
Before the 1988 season, Carmody left the program and Hudson “Curley” Hallman became the coach.
He was the opposite of Carmody, who was more of a task master.
Hallman was a players coach and did not mind taking risks.
It paid off when he trusted Favre to continue learning and playing to his potential.
Favre responded by completing over 55% of his passes for 2,271 yards, 16 touchdowns and only five picks.
Southern Miss went 10-2 and faced UTEP in the Independence Bowl.
These Converse cleats on Brett Favre at Southern Miss are incredible. pic.twitter.com/rh42wcBPRc
— Jeff Eisenband (@JeffEisenband) November 7, 2016
It was the program’s first bowl appearance since 1981.
Favre and the Golden Eagles outshined the Miners 38-18.
The following season, Southern Miss struggled to a 5-6 record, it’s worst since 1976.
However, Favre made a name for himself in the first week of the season when he led the Golden Eagles to a 30-26 upset of number six Florida State in Tallahassee.
With barely six minutes remaining in the contest and the Golden Eagles down, Favre drove his team the length of the field and tossed the game-winning touchdown pass with 23 seconds left.
That season, Favre completed 54% of his passes for 2,588 yards, 14 touchdowns and 10 picks.
The Accident that Nearly Took Favre’s Life
While Favre was excelling on the field, he was struggling off it.
His drinking had gotten out of control at times and he was more concerned with having a good time than anything else.
Favre had also become a father.
His girlfriend, Deanna Tynes, had gotten pregnant and delivered a baby girl.
However, Favre was more of an absentee father and not quite ready for adulthood at 19 years old.
Although, he did try to be a better father, when it was convenient.
“When I was at Southern Miss I went out partying with the guys, then drove all night to see Deanna and Brittany. Here I was, 19 years old, changing diapers in the middle of the night and playing football the next day,” said Favre.
Then there was the accident.
In mid-July of 1990, Favre met some friends on Dauphin Island, Alabama.
After a day spent drinking and fishing, the group headed back to Favre’s parents house for dinner.
Before 8:00 p.m. Favre, who was driving his vehicle and exceeding the speed limit, drifted near the edge of the road, overcorrected, veered sharply across the road and flipped several times.
The height of the flipping vehicle was such that a teammate following Favre nearly went under the car.
“There was actually a point when it was flipping, where if we hadn’t hit the brakes we could have driven right underneath his car. It went off the side of the road and into a telephone pole and up on its side,” said Keith Loescher, Favre’s friend and teammate who was following behind Favre.
The devastation was immense.
Loescher found Favre in his backseat, battered, bloodied and bruised.
He regained consciousness soon after and was speaking to his friends and brother, Scott, when the ambulance arrived.
At the hospital, the attending doctors looked Favre over and told him that the upcoming college football season was out of the question.
“Just watch me,” Favre replied.
While he was in the hospital, it was learned that Favre’s blood alcohol content was above the legal limit.
However, he was not arrested on DUI charges.
His teammates, as well as locals, later confessed Favre was likely not prosecuted because of who he was.
Favre was out of the hospital within weeks and returned to Southern Miss for his senior year.
However, whenever he tried to eat something, he felt terrible and threw up.
This continued a few times before he told a friend, “I’m dying.”
Favre was rushed to the hospital and X-rays were taken.
The doctors found a blockage in Favre’s lower intestine.
One doctor told Irvin Favre that he believed the accident caused the obstruction and constricted the blood flow in the small intestine.
Believing that his condition would get worse, Favre underwent surgery.
Nearly two hours later, the physicians had removed 30 inches of his intestine.
There was talk that the Southern Miss coaching staff should redshirt Favre so he could fully rest and recover during the 1990 season.
Forever obstinate, Favre was back to practice two weeks after surgery.
He sat out the first game of the season against Division II Delta State.
— Davy Lyons (@LyonsDavy) July 18, 2015
Then, he was inserted in the second game against mighty Alabama.
Favre didn’t play great, but he kept his team in it.
By the fourth quarter he was in a rhythm.
As the clock was winding down, Favre drove his squad methodically downfield.
When they reached field goal range with seconds left, Golden Eagles kicker Jim Taylor kicked a career-long 52-yard field goal.
Southern Miss upset the Tide 27-24.
The rest of the season was an up-and-down affair for Favre and Southern Miss.
The program went 8-4 and Favre completed 54% of his passes for 1,572 yards, seven touchdowns and six interceptions.
In the All-American Bowl against North Carolina State, Favre had a chance to win his last game as a collegian.
Instead, while dropping back to pass with eight seconds left, he scrambled and fumbled the ball forward and out-of-bounds.
With no time remaining, Favre ended his college career with a 31-27 loss.
Drafted by Atlanta
Favre was invited to the Senior Bowl in January 1991 and decided to show the world who he was and what he was capable of.
He then completed seven of 15 passes for 62 yards.
He was easily outplayed by the likes of San Diego State’s Dan McGwire and Louisville’s Browning Nagle.
In the months before the 1991 NFL Draft, many scouts and teams didn’t know what to make of Favre.
Brett Favre workout photo in 1991 Falcons draft binder. Atlanta took Favre with the 33rd pick. Traded him to Green Bay following season. pic.twitter.com/Oc5hEnNmbj
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) February 5, 2017
He was popular in the south where his legend was huge.
However, the rest of the country barely knew him.
It helped that he played in the East-West Shrine game and did much better.
His exploits that day led to Favre being named co-MVP of the game.
While NFL teams were still undecided about Favre’s long-term ability as a pro, one league exec was intrigued.
The Jets’ Ron Wolf was in his role as a scout and watched the East-West game.
He loved what he saw in Favre.
Wolf returned to New York and immediately tried to convince his bosses to draft the kid from Southern Miss.
On draft day, Favre sat and watched as McGwire and USC’s Todd Marinovich were drafted ahead of him.
Finally, with the 33rd overall pick of the second round, the Atlanta Falcons selected Favre.
On this day in 1991, Brett Favre was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in the 2nd round.
He also wore JORTS!! pic.twitter.com/4m295GTzV5
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) April 22, 2014
Although to this day, there is some debate over whether the Falcons head coach, Jerry Glanville, wanted Favre or Nagle.
“I liked Favre, but I said I’ve got to get the wide receiver first, and everyone said, “Then you’ll never get Favre,” said Glanville in 2016. “And lo and behold, in the second round, Favre was there, and I wanted him as much as anybody in the second round. I said we had a great draft. We got Favre and [Mike] Pritchard. Anybody who says I didn’t want him is a bold-faced liar. My brother was sitting in the room, my assistant coaches were sitting in the room and they’ll all tell you I wanted Favre, but I didn’t want him until I got the receiver.”
Forgettable Rookie Year
It wasn’t like the Falcons actually needed Favre right away.
In 1991, Chris Miller led Atlanta to a 10-6 record, the team’s best in 11 years.
With Glanville in charge and the Falcons winning, the party atmosphere was in high gear that season.
The offense clicked with Miller and the defense was led by the ultra-talented Deion Sanders.
(1991) A young Primetime and Brett Favre on the Falcons! Legendary. pic.twitter.com/vwNhm8rE0W
— Timeless Sports (@timelesssports_) November 5, 2017
During most games, celebrities made their way to the sidelines including boxer Evander Holyfield and rapper MC Hammer.
Hammer had written a song titled “Too Legit to Quit” and the video for the song prominently displayed several Falcon players.
Atlanta rode their success to the playoffs and beat their division rival New Orleans in the Wild Card round.
The following week, the team traveled to Washington where they were dispatched 24-7.
As his team had a ball on and off the field, Favre watched from the sidelines.
Knowing he wouldn’t get an opportunity to play, he passed the time by drinking and making a nuisance of himself.
“When I picked Favre, [Glanville] didn’t want him,” said former Atlanta general manager Ken Herock, who disputes Glanville’s decision about Favre. “And I didn’t care because I thought I was picking a great player. During the whole year after I drafted him, it was partly his fault — Favre was always late for meetings, drinking a lot, didn’t even know the scout plays. He couldn’t even run the scout team, they were telling me. I’m not there every day, I might be there through Tuesday and then I’d go out [to scout] for a couple of days, and every time I’d come back they’d say, “Oh, you should see what your guy did today.” It was always my guy. It wasn’t our guy. It was my guy. And I had no defense. I couldn’t come back and say, “This is what he can do.”
What Favre did do that season was throw four total passes and only completed two of them, to his opponents.
Trade to the Packers
With Miller firmly entrenched as the Falcons starter and Favre not endearing himself to Glanville, Herock could see the writing on the wall.
He knew his good friend Ron Wolf had been hired by Green Bay as their general manager.
Herock also knew Wolf was a fan of Favre.
Wolf was hired by the Packers during the ‘91 season and the team traveled to Atlanta, just in time for Wolf.
He told his bosses that he wanted to watch the Falcons game in person and then travel back with the team.
There was someone he desperately needed to see at the game.
“The week we hired Ron, he still had some scouting responsibilities with the Jets,” said Bob Harlan, former Green Bay CEO. “We hired him in midweek, and he said he was going to meet us in Atlanta and then come back to Green Bay with the team. So I’m sitting in the press box on Sunday morning before the game and he comes up, puts his briefcase down next to me and says, “I’m going to go look at Atlanta’s backup quarterback in warmups. If his arm is still as strong as it was coming out of college, we’re going to make a trade for him.” And then he walks away. So the first thing I did was take the flip card and turn it over to see who Atlanta’s backup quarterback was. And I thought his name was Fav-RAY.”
“I never did [see him throw before the game], said Wolf in 2016. “But I didn’t need to. The thing I find so hard that people don’t understand is this was a guy I personally rated the best player in the draft in 1991. So it’s the next year. Actually it’s still 1991. To have an opportunity to get a player of that caliber, in my opinion, a person’s just lucky. I went back and looked at him [on film], but every time I saw him play, I saw him play well.”
Even though most teams wouldn’t think twice about giving up a little regarded back-up, Herock was no dummy.
He told Wolf he could get Favre if, in turn, he was given a first-round draft pick.
Wolf didn’t hesitate and went back to his bosses with his belief that trading for Favre was the best thing for the franchise.
After some discussion, the group agreed and Wolf had his man.
25 Years Ago Today: Falcons trade guy named Brett Favre to Packers. Here's the Green Bay Press-Gazette the next day pic.twitter.com/Zzt3MffPlk
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) February 11, 2017
A Legend is Born
Initially, it looked like it would be another year on the sidelines for Favre.
After training camp broke in 1992, he was entrenched as the backup to starter Don Majkowski.
The “Majik Man” had been drafted by the organization in 1987 and acquired his moniker in 1989.
That season the team finished 10-6, their best record in almost 20 years.
Majkowski went to his only Pro Bowl after the season.
By 1992, the Majik Man had lost his mojo.
In Week 1, the Packers lost to Minnesota in overtime 23-20.
The following week, the team was losing to Tampa Bay and Holmgren inserted Favre into the game.
Favre’s debut as a Packer didn’t turn out so well as he mustered only 106 passing yards and Green Bay lost 31-3.
In Week 3, the team was losing to the Bengals when Majkowski was injured.
Favre stepped in and proceeded to fumble the ball four times.
The crowd was incensed and started chanting for third-string quarterback Ty Detmer.
That’s when destiny called.
With only 1:07 remaining and the Pack down 23-17, Favre began a drive at his own eight-yard line.
He zinged a pass to receiver Sterling Sharpe for 42 yards.
Then, three plays later and time running out, Favre found Kitrick Taylor for the game-winning score.
— Zesty NFL GB Packers (@zesty_packers) September 21, 2017
Pandemonium and bedlam ensued.
The same crowd that had booed Favre minutes ago now heralded praise on the unlikely hero.
Green Bay won again the following week against Pittsburgh, marking Favre’s first official start as a pro.
The team then lost four of their next five including a loss to Favre’s former team, Atlanta.
Favre’s legend began to grow even more when he helped the team reel off six straight wins beginning in Week 11.
That marked the longest club winning streak since 1965.
During the last game of the season, the Pack only had to beat Minnesota for a trip to their first postseason since 1982.
Unfortunately, the Vikings proved too powerful at home and sent the Packers home for the year with a 27-7 victory.
Favre did well as a rookie, throwing for 3,227 yards, 18 touchdowns, 13 picks and an 85.3 quarterback rating.
The numbers were good enough for his first Pro Bowl selection.
1993, 1994 and MVP in ‘95
In 1993 the Packers finished 9-7 again only this time the franchise made the playoffs.
This was the Packers’ first trip to the postseason since 1982.
Favre’s QB rating fell to 72.2 and he tossed 24 interceptions.
He also passed for 3,303 yards and 19 touchdowns.
In a Week 14 victory over Chicago, Favre had his first 400-yard passing day.
Green Bay faced the Lions in the Wild Card round and defeated their division foe 28-24 thanks to Favre’s three touchdown passes.
In the Divisional round, Favre passed for two touchdowns but the Cowboys still ended the Packers’ season 27-17.
For the third consecutive year, Green Bay completed the 1994 season with a 9-7 record.
The team made the postseason in back-to-back years for the first time since Vince Lombardi was the coach.
In the Wild Card round, the Packers faced Detroit and defeated them 16-12.
The Divisional game saw Green Bay held to nine points as the Cowboys advanced 35-9.
Favre played lights out in ‘94 and passed for a then career-high 3,882 yards, 33 touchdowns and 14 picks.
If ‘94 showed what Favre was capable of, 1995 proved he was one of the best in the league.
Welcome to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Brett Favre.
• NFL-record 18 straight 3,000-yard seasons
• 3-time NFL MVP pic.twitter.com/XM7X9UuAd5
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 7, 2016
That season he crushed opponents to the tune of 4,413 passing yards, 38 passing touchdowns, 13 interceptions and a 99.5 quarterback rating.
The Packers went 11-5 (the most wins by a Green Bay team since 1966), defeated the Falcons and 49ers in the first two rounds of the playoffs and just missed the Super Bowl when the Cowboys once again ended their season 38-27.
Despite the heartbreak at being so close, Favre was the NFL’s passing touchdowns leader, named league MVP and Offensive Player of the Year, First-team All-Pro and voted to the Pro Bowl.
A Humbling Admission…
By the end of ‘95, Favre was proving to be not only one of the best in the game but an iron man as well.
At that point, he had started every game since Week 4 of 1992.
This was accomplished despite enduring 30 or more sacks each year he played.
Favre’s pain threshold was a marvel, but it soon became clear the methods he used to overcome (or numb) the pain.
During ankle surgery in early February of 1996, Favre suffered a seizure.
News spread about Favre’s health and what caused the seizure.
Soon, the NFL began investigating.
After the seizure, Favre was told by a doctor that he had a toxic liver.
The reason appeared to stem from Vicodin, or painkillers.
To help Favre get through the pain associated with his position, he had been prescribed Vicodin.
However, he developed an addiction to the drug and kept on taking the pills even if he wasn’t in pain.
Not long after the diagnosis, Favre was summoned to Chicago to meet with a number of NFL doctors.
The doctors were honest with Favre and told him point blank they knew he was abusing Vicodin.
They also advised him to curtail his drinking.
Furthermore, the doctors advised the quarterback to seek immediate treatment at the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas.
— Fabluc (@Fabiolucv) May 22, 2018
Favre was unmoved and dismissed the physicians’ advice.
The NFL was informed of Favre’s decision and the league pushed back.
Either Favre went to treatment or he would be fined four weeks pay, or the equivalent of $900,000.
After seeking advice from Holmgren, Favre chose the rehab option.
Furthermore, before word got out and rumors started to spread, Favre was proactive and announced his decision to the media.
In 2016, Favre shared how he became addicted to painkillers as well as when he first started taking the drug.
“This went on for a long time. It wasn’t just ’96. That’s when people knew about it because of the announcement. I don’t know, it started three years before? I was taking pain pills before that but maybe not abusing them.”
“A month’s prescription is 30 pills or whatever, depending what they prescribe to you, and I was going through that in two days,” Favre said. “So I was having to hustle. I’d ask this guy for pills and that guy for pills. After a while I was going back around pretty quickly. I was the last one to know, it’s one of those things. No one knows what’s going on. Like my wife says, everyone knew. But I thought no one knew.”
Favre then went on to say how he finally quit taking the drug.
“…I shouldn’t say kind of, I know things around me seemed like they were good, but internally I hit rock bottom and I said, I’m going to flush these down the toilet, the remainders,” Favre said. “And I remember when I poured them in the toilet and it started to flush, I almost crawled into the toilet to go after them. Because I thought, what in the world did you just do, because I had such a dependency on those. I was taking 15 a night. Any expert would tell you that’s not the way to ween yourself off.
I just went cold turkey — I don’t say that braggingly, I just know that was the worst month, in terms of any kind of recovery, I ever went through. I shook every night, cold sweats, it was a constant battle.”
46 days later, Favre exited the treatment center in Kansas.
Then, after being together for years, Favre finally proposed to his longtime girlfriend, Tynes.
The couple were married on July 14.
Favre was determined to get his life back on track.
…Leads to the Pinnacle of Success
His return from exile lit a fire under Favre.
The 1996 season was one of the best years of Green Bay Packers football.
The team went 13-3, matching their highest win total from 1962.
Favre passed for 3,899 yards, a career-high 39 touchdowns and 13 picks.
In the Divisional Playoffs, the Packers beat San Francisco 35-14.
They then dispatched the upstart Panthers 30-13 in the NFC Championship game.
For the first time in his young career, Favre was going to the Super Bowl.
Watching @BrettFavre and my beloved @packers win Super Bowl 31 in New Orleans. When Favre took his helmet off on the field and Reggie White raises the Lombardi Trophy! #gopackgo pic.twitter.com/ZrJgM5CJFO
— nate d (@igott2bme) April 11, 2021
Green Bay faced the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI in New Orleans, which happened to be a stone’s throw from Favre’s hometown.
The timing couldn’t have been more perfect.
On the second play of the game, Favre heaved a 54-yard touchdown pass to receiver Andre Rison.
He later tossed another 81-yard bomb to receiver Antonio Freeman and also scrambled 12 yards for a score.
By the end of the game, Favre completed 14 of his 27 passes for 246 yards and two touchdown passes.
The Pack won the game 35-21.
Favre was a Super Bowl champion, a league MVP for the second time, the NFL’s passing touchdown leader, a First-team All-Pro and a Pro Bowler.
Near Repeat in 1997
With nearly the same roster, the Packers had another dominating season in 1997.
While the team finished 13-3 again, Favre had over 3,800 passing yards, 35 touchdowns (which led the league yet again) and 16 interceptions.
He was voted First-team All-Pro and voted into the Pro Bowl.
Favre was also voted the co-MVP of the league along with Detroit running back Barry Sanders.
In the Divisional Playoffs versus Tampa Bay, Favre led the pack to a 31-7 win.
The following week saw a 23-10 victory over San Francisco, marking the third consecutive year Green Bay sent the 49ers home for the season.
In Super Bowl XXXII, the Packers faced the Denver Broncos and John Elway.
Today in 1998: Packers denied back-to-back titles with 31-24 loss to Broncos in Super Bowl XXXII. Brett Favre throws for 256 yards and three TDs. However, two first-half turnovers (leading to 10 Denver points) and Terrell Davis' 157 rush yards prove too much to overcome. pic.twitter.com/Rd4GddV9rg
— Packers History (@HistoricPackers) January 25, 2021
The AFC was in a bit of a drought, having last won the big game in 1984 (Super Bowl XVIII).
Odds makers believed Favre and the Pack were the better team and installed them as 11 point favorites.
The game was tight and momentum swung back-and-forth.
Favre passed for 256 yards and three touchdowns but he also had a fumble and a pick.
In the fourth quarter, with his team down by a touchdown, Favre moved the Packers down-the-field.
On fourth and six at the Broncos 31 yard line, Favre’s pass to tight end Mark Chmura was batted down by Denver’s John Mobley.
That ended Green Bay’s quest for back-to-back Super Bowl victories and Denver broke the AFC steak with a 31-24 upset win.
In 1998, Favre passed for over 4,000 yards for the second time in his career. He also tossed 23 picks against 31 touchdowns.
The Packers went 11-5 but were finally taken down by the 49ers in the playoffs 30-27.
After the season, Holmgren left the team to coach the Seahawks.
Former Eagles head coach Ray Rhodes replaced Holmgren and Green Bay suffered their lowest record since before Favre arrived.
The 8-8 season effectively ended Rhodes’ time with the team.
He was fired after only one season and replaced by Mike Sherman.
Favre had tried to salvage the season as best he could by attempting 595 passes and accumulating 4,091 yards.
Brett Favre won 3 straight MVPs. I don’t think this gets talked about enough. During his three-year MVP run:
— GBP Daily (@GBPdaily) July 2, 2020
However, he also had more interceptions than touchdowns.
By the ‘99 season, Favre was still consuming excessive alcohol and it was wearing away at his marriage.
The couple became estranged and Deanna threatened to divorce her husband.
Favre entered rehab for a second time. Since exiting treatment, he has claimed to not have had a drink since.
The Sherman era began in 2000 with the Packers improving to 9-7 but missing the playoffs.
Favre threw for over 3,800 yards and reduced his interceptions from 23 the year before to 16.
His 20 touchdown passes were his lowest since 1992.
2001 and 2002
For the next two years the Packers continued clawing their way back toward the Super Bowl.
In 2001, the team went 12-4 during the regular season.
During the last game of the year, Favre was embroiled in a bit of controversy.
Green Bay was playing New York and Giants defensive end Michael Strahan was sitting at 21.5 sacks.
With time running out and the Packers on offense, Strahan burst through the line and sacked Favre.
— New York Post Sports (@nypostsports) January 6, 2017
That gave Strahan the NFL single-season sack record of 22.5 which edged out former record-holder Mark Gastineau of the Jets.
It wouldn’t have been a big deal except that replays showed Favre essentially giving a Broadway performance.
To many around the league, the “sack” was akin to the wind tackling Favre.
Many conspiracy theorists believed that Strahan and Favre cooked up the scheme together.
To this day, Gastineau is still upset about his record being taken away under false pretenses.
After their 12-4 record helped the Packers return to the postseason for the first time in three years, Favre led the team to a 25-15 victory over San Francisco.
However, they were bounced the following week by the Rams 45-17.
In 2002 the Pack again posted a 12-4.
However, they were unexpectedly defeated by the Falcons 27-7 in the Wild Card round.
An Emotional Monday Night in 2003
The Packers were on their way to another winning season in 2003.
The day before Green Bay was to play the Raiders in December, Irvin Favre died suddenly of a heart attack.
Still emotional from the passing of his father, Favre suited up to play against Oakland.
Brett Favre has had plenty of memorable games on Monday Night Football.
Dec. 22, 2003: Just one day after his father Irvin died of a heart attack, Favre took the field in Oakland and put on a show throwing for 4 TD and 399 yards in the Packers 41-7 win over the Raiders. pic.twitter.com/T2hWFneTsL
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 14, 2020
With millions watching, Favre mustered every ounce of courage and played a game for the ages.
By the end of the contest, he had passed for 399 yards and four touchdowns for a resounding 41-7 victory.
In a telling tribute, even the Raider faithful applauded Favre’s effort for the day.
After the game, an emotional Favre addressed the media.
“I knew my dad would have wanted me to play,” Favre said of his late father, Irvin. “I loved him so much, and he loved this game. It’s meant a great deal to me and to my dad and my family. I didn’t expect tonight’s performance, but I know he was watching,” Favre said.
Favre attended his father’s funeral in Mississippi and then got back to business.
A 10-6 record that season pitted Green Bay against Seattle during Wild Card weekend.
The team advanced after a thrilling 33-27 win in overtime.
In the Divisional round one week later, the thrills went against Green Bay as the Eagles won 20-17 in overtime.
Along with over 3,300 passing yards, Favre also tossed 32 touchdowns, which led the NFL.
Aided by Favre passing for over 4,000 yards, in 2004 Green Bay went 10-6 and made the postseason for the fourth year in a row.
Division rival Minnesota abruptly ended the Packers season in the Wild Card round 31-17.
At the time, Favre was completing his 14th year in the league and rumors swirled about possible retirement.
Green Bay took precautions in the 2005 NFL Draft when they selected Cal quarterback Aaron Rodgers with the 24th overall pick in the First Round.
I found my interview with Aaron Rodgers on his first day in Green Bay after being drafted by the #Packers in 2005. 15 years ago this week. Pretty sharp for just 21-years-old.
— Mike Clemens (@MikeClemensNFL) April 23, 2020
Favre was not happy with the selection and reports stated that the relationship between the two QBs was frosty at best.
Meanwhile, Favre continued playing and starting.
He had not missed a game since he became Green Bay’s starter during his second year in the league.
Furthermore, he wasn’t about to miss a game with Rodgers waiting in the wings.
In 2005 and 2006, the Pack took a huge nosedive and ended with 4-12 and 8-8 records respectively.
Favre showed up, however, and passed for over 3,800 yards both seasons.
2007, an Errant Pass and Retirement #1
Surrounded by better talent in 2007, Favre had a remarkable season.
As he passed for 4,155 yards, 28 touchdowns and 15 picks, Favre hit a number of milestones that year.
In a Week 2 victory against the Giants, Favre passed Elway with his 149th career win, setting a new record.
During a game against Minnesota two weeks later, he connected with receiver Greg Jennings for his 421st touchdown pass.
That bettered Dan Marino’s all-time touchdown mark.
In November, Favre beat Kansas City making him only the third quarterback in history to defeat all the other 31 teams in the NFL.
— CD TundraVision (@TundraVision) May 14, 2021
He continued to play fantastic football and the Packers ended the season 13-3.
As the number two seed, Green Bay had a week to rest before facing Seattle in the Divisional round.
After dispatching the Seahawks easily 42-20, the Pack hosted the Giants for the NFC Championship game.
The game was played in bitter cold temperatures and both teams traded the lead during the contest.
During the second quarter, Favre connected with receiver Donald Driver for a 90-yard score.
That set the mark for longest postseason touchdown pass in team history.
Eventually, the score was knotted at 20 by the end of regulation.
The home crowd erupted when the Packers won the coin toss to begin overtime.
Just as the fans were beginning to sense another Super Bowl berth, Favre did the unthinkable.
On second down, he was attempting to pass the ball when Giants defensive back Corey Webster jumped the route and intercepted it.
Webster returned the ball to the Packers 34-yard line and, only plays later, kicker Lawrence Tynes made a 47-yard field goal to end Green Bay’s dream season.
The Packers will host the NFC Championship for the first time since January 20, 2008.
The Giants won in overtime, in what would be Brett Favre's final game with Green Bay. pic.twitter.com/ii0AcAhfMU
— NFLonCBS (@NFLonCBS) January 17, 2021
In March of 2008, Favre ended speculation by announcing his retirement.
He addressed the media and stated that he wanted to return for another season, but that only a Super Bowl victory would bring him back.
Seeing the chances of that happening as very slim, Favre chose to step away.
“I know I can play, but I don’t think I want to. And that’s really what it comes down to,” Favre told the media at his retirement announcement.
Less than three months later, Favre contacted Green Bay about returning.
The Packers balked at having Favre come back to the team, especially with Rodgers still waiting for his opportunity.
Both sides went back and forth with Favre saying he felt pressure from Green Bay to make a retirement decision too quickly.
At one point, Favre actually reported to Packers training camp in August.
However, a lengthy meeting with the quarterback and team personnel led Favre to the conclusion that moving on was best.
Initially, Green Bay had planned to retire Favre’s #4 jersey during the first game of 2008.
However, that plan was scrapped when Favre announced he was returning to the league.
New York Jets, Retirement #2
Green Bay quickly got to work and put together a possible trade to Tampa Bay or the Jets.
The team finally made an agreement with New York and sent Favre to the Jets in exchange for a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2009 draft.
10 years ago, the unthinkable happened: the Packers traded Brett Favre to the Jets. pic.twitter.com/8YzbNQ8zBk
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) August 7, 2018
“I am looking forward to seeing Brett Favre in a New York Jets uniform,” said Jets Chairman and CEO Woody Johnson in a statement. “He represents a significant addition to this franchise, and reflects our commitment to putting the best possible team on the field.”
The 2008 season began well and at one point the team was 8-3.
Unfortunately, New York then proceeded to drop four out of their last five games.
The Jets missed the playoffs with a 9-7 record.
To make matters worse, rumors circulated throughout the NFL that Favre had sent inappropriate texts during the season to Jets game day host Jenn Sterger.
The league investigated and fined Favre $50,000 for “failure to cooperate.”
For her part, Sterger set the record straight during a 2018 interview.
“A lot of people don’t realize I’ve never met Brett Favre,” she said. “I don’t know him. I’ve never met him personally, never shaken his hand, never said hello, never introduced myself. So to this day, a lot of people don’t realize I was cyber-bullied. I wasn’t his mistress, I wasn’t his girlfriend, we had no physical interaction at all, and I think that that’s something, to this day, that still shocks people.”
In early 2009, Favre told the Jets, “…it may be time to look in a different direction” regarding the quarterback position.
In February, Favre told the Jets he was retiring and the team released him from his contract in April.
That meant Favre was permitted to sign with any team he wanted should he choose to return to the NFL.
…Which he chose to do in August of 2009.
During the months after Favre’s second retirement announcement and his decision to continue paying, members of the Minnesota Vikings pleaded with the quarterback to come play for them.
A significant amount of money and the chance to play for a Super Bowl contender intrigued Favre.
Also, there was the opportunity to play against his former team twice a year.
Without further ado, Favre returned for his 19th NFL season.
Once the ink was dry on his new contract, Favre was excited to get to work with a good Vikings team.
In Week 4 of the ‘09 season, he faced the Packers and defeated his longtime employer 30-23.
That made Favre the first quarterback in NFL history to defeat all 32 teams (since the league was expanded in 2002).
In Week 8, Favre returned to Lambeau Field.
.@BrettFavre's win in his return to Lambeau was recently listed as the best NFL revenge game in the last 25 years.
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) June 5, 2019
He torched his former team again with 244 passing yards and four touchdowns in a 38-26 victory.
By the end of the season, Favre had the best quarterback rating of his career with 107.2.
He also passed for 4,202 yards, 33 touchdowns and only seven interceptions.
His interception mark was the lowest of his career since his uneventful year with the Falcons.
With Favre in control, the Vikings completed the season 12-4.
In the Divisional Playoffs, Minnesota easily dispatched Dallas 34-3.
The following week, the team traveled to New Orleans to take on a high-powered Saints team in the NFC Championship game.
Despite being underdogs before the game began, the Vikings stayed with the Saints.
With 2:42 remaining in the game, the score was tied at 28.
Minnesota had the ball and drove to the Saints 33-yard line.
Then, in two successive plays, running backs Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor were stopped for no gain.
The Vikings called a time out and then were penalized when 12 men were in the huddle.
That moved the ball back to the 38-yard line.
On third and 15, Minnesota chose to throw the ball to get better field goal position.
While rolling out, Favre attempted to throw a pass across his body to receiver Sidney Rice.
Instead, New Orleans’ Tracy Porter stepped in front of the pass and intercepted the ball.
— Prop Jim (@JimBearor) January 31, 2019
The play was eerily reminiscent of two years earlier when Favre threw his interception against the Giants in the ‘07 NFC Championship game.
The Saints won the coin toss in overtime and never looked back.
Kicker Garrett Hartley kicked a 40-yard field goal with 10:15 remaining and ended the Vikings season.
Favre was devastated about his errant throw.
He was also taken to task by the media that he had room to run on his rollout and didn’t need to throw to Rice.
Before the Saints began the overtime period, backup quarterback Sage Rosenfels walked over to Favre, who told his teammate, “I choked.”
2010 and Final Retirement
After vacillating between retirement and playing, Favre was again coaxed back for another year by some of his Vikings teammates.
His 20th NFL season did have some career milestones.
In a game against the Jets, Favre threw his 500th touchdown and 70,000 passing yard.
During a November game against the Cardinals, he passed for a career-high 446 yards to help the Vikings win in overtime.
Father Time finally caught up with Favre.
In a contest against Buffalo, he was knocked out of the game with an injury.
Because of the injury, Favre did not start the following game.
That broke his consecutive games streak at 297.
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) November 21, 2014
In Week 15 against Chicago, Favre returned only to be knocked out of the game with a concussion.
The injury would effectively end his season and career.
Favre did not play again and the Vikings limped to the finish line with a 6-10 record.
Once the season ended, Favre reiterated that he was retired for good.
On January 17, 2011, Favre made it official and filed his retirement papers with the NFL.
In 20 seasons, Favre passed for a total of 71,838 yards, 508 touchdowns and 336 interceptions.
He had a 186-112 win/loss record, was a three-time league MVP, NFL Offensive Player of the Year, three-time First-team All-Pro, 11 time Pro Bowler, four-time league passing touchdowns leader, two-time league leader in passing yards, NFL Completion Percentage leader (1998), and a member of the NFL’s 1990s All-Decade team and 100th Anniversary team.
His number 4 is retired by both Southern Miss and the Packers.
Remarkably, in 2013, the Rams asked Favre to come out of retirement and play for their injury-depleted team.
The Rams called 44 year old Brett Favre to see if he would like to come out of retirement. Sorry Vince & Tebow… pic.twitter.com/1N33VQd3Cw
— SportsNation (@SportsNation) October 24, 2013
As enticing as that was, Favre declined stating the memory loss he was suffering.
He also admitted at the time to playing numerous games in his career with a concussion.
In 2016, Favre was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Since then, Favre has found himself in the news for making controversial statements.
Specifically, he has stated that he doesn’t believe transgender athletes should compete in the Olympics.
Favre also believes that politics need to stay out of sports.
“It’s really a shame that we’ve come to this,” Favre said regarding the kneeling controversy. “Something has to unify us, and I felt like the flag, standing patriotically — because Blacks and whites and Hispanics have fought for this country and died for this country. It’s too bad.”
In April, Favre raised eyebrows with his statement about former police officer Derek Chauvin and his role in the George Floyd murder.
“I find it hard to believe, and I’m not defending Derek Chauvin in any way, I find it hard to believe, first of all, that he intentionally meant to kill George Floyd,” Favre said. “That being said, his actions were uncalled for. I don’t care what color the person is on the street. I don’t know what led to that video that we saw where his knee is on his neck, but the man had thrown in the towel.”
Despite his comments, Favre is still a highly sought after pitch man and commentator.
He has reportedly turned down numerous requests to join the NFL Network as an analyst.
Favre, for the most part, seems content to live life on his property in Mississippi with his wife, Deanna, and dote on his daughters and grandchild.