At one time, back in say 1992 or 1993, maybe even as late 2002 or 2003, Brett Favre had a solid head for football, for right and wrong and for the importance of being a role model in the NFL Universe.
A country farmer might call this reasonable head “full o’ country corn.” Since Favre hails from Kiln, Miss., where the corn is well past knee high by the fourth of July, this seems like a fitting description for his state of mind at the beginning of his talented, record-breaking career.
Recently, erratic behavior, contradictory statements and confusing interviews over the past two years are all symptoms, most people agree, of some unknown malaise affecting the three-time NFL MVP.
When asked, the wise country farmer / sage smoothly reckoned, “That Favre boy has only one piece o’ corn left rattling around in that head of his,” based upon his recent actions.
This article uncovers the exact moments in Favre's career, during the trials and tribulation, when his ability to reason and his head for football, began to be knocked out as he lost piece after piece of that sweet Mississippi corn.
And it happened right before our eyes and under the noses of watchful television viewers, coaches and the media.
Surviving a car accident which caused internal injuries leading to the removal of 30 inches of his small intestine, Brett dramatically rose again to lead Southern Mississippi to a historic win against football powerhouse Alabama only eight weeks later in 1990.
The legend of the Iron Man begins to build.
Favre returns glory, and dignity, back to Packerland with decisive win over New England in Super Bowl XXXI.
He also wins a second consecutive MVP award and sets NFC record for 39 TD passes in one year.
Hailed as a returning hero to Green Bay afterwards, fans lavish praise on the small town boy and hero.
On May 14, 1996, Favre announces he is addicted to painkillers.
"Throughout the last couple of years, playing with pain and injuries and because of numerous surgeries, I became dependent upon medication," Favre said at a news conference in Green Bay, Wis.
The Menninger Clinic, a rehabilitation center in Topeka, Kan., treats his dependency to Vicodin in time for the season to begin.
On Sunday, Dec. 21, 2003, Irv “Bud” Favre dies unexpectedly.
Brett, sacrificing himself for the team, the NFL and huge television audience on Monday Night Football, plays the next day against the Oakland Raiders.
Continuing his string of 205 consecutive starts, Favre has a career game, throwing for 399 yards and four touchdowns.
"I knew that my dad would have wanted me to play," Favre said. "I love him so much, and I love this game.
"It's meant a great deal to me, to my dad, to my family, and I didn't expect this kind of performance. But I know he was watching tonight."
John Madden loves Brett Favre, plain and simple.
The media, sensing a lifelong love affair, indulges Favre–overwhelms Favre with accolades, superlatives, and awards.
They help to build up the legend of Brett Favre as larger than the player. They mutually embrace each other, desperate for what the other can offer.
In October 2004, Deanne Favre is diagnosed with breast cancer. The woman he has loved since he was 14 may possibly die. A week before that his brother-in-law dies while riding an ATV.
"All I know is that when you hear cancer, it sounds like a death sentence," he says. "It's not and it's treatable, but I still didn't want my wife to have it. I was worried sick for her safety.
"And for (their) girls, who could lose their mom and would run the risk of having it. ... Nothing positive went through my mind for a while."
Larry Wiesman’s pivotal article marks the beginning of the end for Favre. http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/packers/2005-08-11-favre-cover-story_x.htm.
Retirement talks clouds Favre’s decision making and casts a dark pall upon the organization, the fans, and the media.
The pressure of past sacrifices reflects upon Favre’s actions and career in the brightest of media spotlights.
"For three months I was 100 percent sure I was not coming back," he says. "My wife was still going through her treatments, and I was more concerned about that than she was.
"It was making her sick, but she was saying, 'You need to go back. You don't want to finish on a note like that.' I said, 'Well, I don't think one game will define my career, good or bad. Should I come back just to change that?'"
As Favre’s retirement talk strengthens, Packer’s CEO Ron Harlan hires Ted Thompson as the Packers new General Manager on Jan. 15, 2005.
Thompson will chart the future of the Packers by rebuilding, with or without the living legend, and releasing key veteran free agents and distancing Favre as a player from the team.
"Ted is the boss of the organization," Harlan said. "I put him at the top of the football operation."
The packers draft Aaron Rodgers from Cal in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft, signaling the end is near for Favre.
Favre now has the responsibility of teaching and instilling in Rodgers the wisdom accumulated through the years and looking his replacement right in the eye each and every day, knowing that the old gunslinger’s days are numbered.
Thompson hires Mike McCarthy to be the new Packers head coach. Designed to push Favre further away from the organization, McCarthy lacks the commitment to Brett that former head coach Mike Sherman held.
A surprising 2007 season of 13-3, third best in team history and a home loss in the NFC Championship game gave Favre little doubt that this was the best moment to retire at.
The pinnacle of the profession.
Too much had occurred over the years, too much playing in pain and the cold, too much of the searing spotlight.
The tears Favre shed at his retirement are not of sorry but rather joy. The joy from knowing he was released of the weight. The joy of not needing to perform every day of his life. The joy for being responsible only to his family.
This was what he wanted the most.
Unbound and uncontrolled, Favre is in free-fall, making one mistake after another.
The man from Mississippi cannot be reasoned with. He is lacking even one piece of corn. Favre’s agent, family and friends cannot or will not control his actions.
Decisions being made today, especially the interest in playing for a hated division rival plays out to many like a vengeful lover rather than a guy who is competitive and wants to play football.
Favre’s reputation in Green Bay and the entire league is threatened by talk of playing in Minnesota.
Fans may eventually forgive him because of previous sacrifices but many will never forget how their legend of Lambeau betrayed them.