Sitting on the hood of a broken down tractor on his farm in Kiln, Mississippi Brett Favre stretched his bruised arms to the sky and looked for an answer. The unforgiving July sun beat down on him, as he contemplated the magnitude of what he had just done 4 months earlier. On that date, March 6th 2008, he had tearfully hung up his cleats for good. The game he loved so much and the fans he had thrilled over the years were going to have to say goodbye to their hero. For good. The Iron Man of the NFL, as he had come to be known, was going to fade off into the distance. He knew that with time, the Green Bay Packer fans could forgive him for that last play in the NFC Championship game. After all, he thought to himself, "It was me who led this franchise back into glory. It was me!" For some, it seemed fitting that Favre ended his career with an errant pass that cost his team a trip to the Super Bowl; “live and die by the gunslinger,” they all would say, but as he reflected that warm afternoon he thought, "was it really my fault?"
As Favre continued to ponder, he noticed what appeared to be a young boy in the distance, skipping rocks on one of the narrow creeks that crisscrossed his land. Favre admired the arm strength the boy exhibited with each toss, and he gingerly pushed himself off the tractor and slowly made his way over to the boy. As he limped forward, the boy appeared further and further away in the distance. Dripping in sweat, no matter how far Favre advanced, he could not reach the boy. He dizzily called out, but his voice faltered, and Favre clenched at his throat, suddenly suffocated. Choking on his own sweat and with his face turning purple, Favre fell to the ground and gasped "Oh God." Suddenly, the boy appeared standing over him with a glass of ice water and mischievous grin and said, "well.... almost."
As Favre sat up and chugged down the water, he stared at the young boy, astonished by a mirror image of his 10 year-old self smiling back at him. As fear trickled down Favre's spine, the boy quickly explained why he was there and what he could do for this aging hero. Turns out this was no boy at all. With a bemused look on his face, Favre contemplated the offer that the Devil proposed.
"Let me get this straight... First, let me say that I was a damn cute kid, wasn't I?Anyways, so you're saying that you can give me the strength to play football again, and that I'll break every NFL QB record and I will hoist the Lombardi trophy one more time, but this time as the MVP of the Super Bowl? Is that about right?" Favre winced as a jolt of pain shot through his body.
The Devil took a few moments and confirmed his side of the deal and presented Favre with a lengthy contract.
As the Devil convinced Favre that the contract was merely a formality and legal jargon he needn’t bother with, Favre noticed that some of the sutures on his leg had opened up and were bleeding profusely. With no pen in sight, Favre instinctively wiped at the blood with his finger and made his mark on the contract. On that fateful and sweltering July 2nd, 2008, the Devil delightedly closed the proceedings with a sly smile and glimmer in his eye and quickly disappeared into the woods. Favre got to his feet and hurriedly headed to the house to let his wife, Deanna, know that he planned to return to the NFL. Upon entering the house, she was in shock when she noticed how suddenly spry her husband appeared to be and she asked about his severely injured ankle and the gaping wound on his leg. "What that? Ah honey, that's just an itch."
So it all began for Favre. Within a few weeks he swooped back into Green Bay as a conquering hero, but what he found was an organization that had moved on. The Packers were fed up with Favre's constant indecision and holding himself above the team and the organization. After countless heated meetings and generous retirement offers (20 Million bucks), they finally got through to Brett. There was no room for him on their team. Backed with the knowledge that he would break every passing record in the book and win another Super Bowl, Favre demanded to be released from his contract. Green Bay declined. Favre wanted to go to the Vikings, but there was no way the Packers were going to release him and allow him to sign with a division rival. Instead, Favre was shipped off to the highest bidder and one that the Packers figured they'd never face. On August 6th, 2008, Brett Lorenzo Favre was traded from the Green Bay Packers to the New York Jets.
Favre's ego led him to New York, a place where the star of stars shine. To him, this was the perfect stage to not only get back at the Packers, but to show the entire world his brilliance. "I'm here to win" he triumphantly proclaimed at his first press conference. It was New York where the current Lombardi trophy resided, and Favre had every intention of having it remain in that great city. He'd figure that he'd be so wonderful that not only would they forget about Broadway Joe, but that maybe they'd name a new borough after him. He was going to own this town. While the Jets paid him millions, Brett unfortunately overlooked the fine print in the only contract that mattered.
Favre felt everything was in place. Prior to his arrival, the Jets were a floundering 4-12 team the previous year. After just 11 games, Favre doubled their win total from the 2007 season and the Jets sat an impressive 8-3 after slaying the perpetual dragons of New England & Tennessee in consecutive weeks. The Jets were riding high, and Favre was the anointed savior. He loved every minute of it, until they began to slip and lost the next two games. The blame started to shift to Favre, and he wondered how this could happen when glory was guaranteed. The Jets rebounded and won their next game against Buffalo putting them in prime Play-Off position, but it wasn't because of Favre. He threw two interceptions in that game, and it was Shaun Ellis from the vaunted Jets Defense that returned a fumble for a touchdown to win the game. "How could this be?" Favre thought to himself. "I'm supposed to be the MAN."
And then the unthinkable happened. Needing to win just one of their two final games to get into the Play-Offs, not only did the Jets lose to both Seattle & Miami, but they lost the games BECAUSE of Favre. In the two games, he threw a combined 5 interceptions costing his team a trip to the Play-Offs. Favre was feeling lonely and needed to blow off some steam, so he texted a few Jets employees he knew who would oblige his needs, but none of them answered. He texted again. Nothing. He texted another. Still no response. As he furiously fumbled around his swank New York apartment cursing the Devil while looking for his contract, the Devil suddenly appeared looking more like a college-aged version of Brett. Farve was furious. This wasn't what he signed up for. With his calming nature, the Devil offered Favre a drink and assured him that everything had gone to plan. Stammering, Favre raged,
How many drinks did Favre have a night during his short stint as a New York Jet?
"What!!? To plan? Are you kidding me? All of New York hates me. I'm supposed to be king. I wish I just stayed in Kiln and became a farmer."
The Devil sensed he needed to massage the fragile ego of his puppet, so he asked, "
Favre took a drink and said "well, you were over yonder by a creek skippin stones. Sheesh.....It looked like you were throwing em' a mile. I went over to talk to you but because my ankle was hurt and my leg was all stitched up, and man, it was a hot day, I kinda collapsed."
"That's right, Brett. When I stood over you and gave you the glass of water that you so desperately needed, you were choking."
"Yeah. I remember. I couldn't breathe and my face was turning purple and then you were just kinda there hovering over me."
With the contract in hand, the Devil quickly flipped to page 307 and asked Favre to read. Favre took a moment before his eyes settled on the phrase "The recipient of such powers will achieve their ultimate goals in the same or similar appearance as they were found."
Confused, Favre looked at the Devil for an explanation. Not feeling like he could spell it out any better for Favre, the Devil simply told Favre to look in the mirror. Brett stood and walked over to the hallway, peering into the mirror, only to find himself grinning back and wearing a Minnesota Viking #4 jersey.
"Ah, that's it! I was purple when you found me, and I'll be with the Vikings when I break all the records and win the Super Bowl. Man, that is going to piss off a lot of people. But I don't get it, how am I going to get the Jets to trade me to the Vikings?"
"You're not," the Devil said as he continued to explain the plan of another false Favre retirement.
"You see, once they believe that you are retired, they will release you. At that point, simply file the paperwork for re-instatement, do a couple interviews with ESPN and other media pundits, showing that you still have the fire and determination, and I'll take care of the rest."
"But, I don't want to go to any training camps. I can run that Minnesota offense in my sleep," Favre boasted as he looked out the window at the lights of Manhattan for what he figured would be one of the last times.
"Of course you can my boy! Let me take care of the details; rumors are my specialty," the Devil said with a wink as he disappeared into the cool New York night.
After the collapse of the New York Jets season, it soon came out that Brett Favre had succumbed to a shoulder injury in the middle of the season. They were looking for a scapegoat, and they found it. Apparently, this injury was the reason Favre threw all of those interceptions at the end of the season. They missed the Play-Offs in part because the Jets organization was not truthful about the extent of Favre's injuries. On September 16th, 2009, via a fine to the tune of $125,000, the Jets would find out that the Devil works in mysterious ways!
After months of the media and tabloids going back and forth regarding the retirement/un-retirement saga of Brett Favre, the ole' Gunslinger officially signed with the Minnesota Vikings on August 18th, 2009. For those that still defended him in Wisconsin despite his move to New York, he had finally done the unforgivable. The Green Bay media, fans, and organization felt betrayed. They burned his jerseys. The New York Jets media, fans, and organizations felt duped. They burned his jerseys. The Packers players circled the dates on their calendars when the two teams would meet. Monday October 5th, 2009 would be the date for the first clash. November 1st, 2009 would be the return date, in Green Bay. Coincidently, many Wisconsin Newspapers noted that the first day of the Wisconsin hunting season was to be November 1st --oh, the irony could be cut like a brick of Kiel's award winning Cheedar.
As a new Viking, Favre dazzled. He led the team out of the gate with unusual control and insurmountable energy. Under Favre's care and impressive play, the Vikings started the 2009 season 6-0 behind 12 TD passes and only 2 Interceptions. In that span, he got to rub his nose in the faces of his former Packer teammates by winning their first encounter, and he also won a game with what later would be the best play of the NFL season with a 32-yard laser pass to unheralded wide receiver Greg Lewis in the back of the End Zone against San Francisco. Favre winning an ESPY was just icing on the cake.
The Vikings’ one blemish came the next week against Pittsburgh, but that loss was quickly forgotten when the following week Favre waltzed into Green Bay playing masterfully to the tune of 4 TD's, no interceptions with a QB rating of 128.6. ‘Looked like Favre was the one doing the hunting, and the Packers succumbed to his greatness. This was Farve’s proof that the Packer brass got it all wrong and never should have forced him out the door. ESPN said the "proof is in the pudding" and that Favre exacted his revenge by playing the best football he had ever played. Favre added fuel to the fire by giving the media gems like "this Viking team is the most talented team I have ever played on." Reggie White must have rolled over in his grave when he got word of that one.
Favre was on fire! None of the experts could explain it, but they all just admitted they loved being along for the ride. As the personal passing records of most TD's, yards, completions, wins, etc., started to pile up, so did the wins for the Vikings. Just looking at Favre, you could tell that he was having fun again and showed signs of the exuberant kid who took over for the magic man Don Majkowski all those years ago. The Viking fans embraced this formerly hated rival, and put their hopes and dreams in the gunslinger's arm. The high powered Viking offense helped the team finish with a 12-4 record and Favre left his final stamp on the season by romping the same New York Giants who ended his career in Green Bay by a score of 44-7. In this destruction, Favre threw for 316 yards, 4 TD's and the highest passer rating of his career, 148.7. Revenge was so sweet!
Of course, for Favre the last team he needed to exact revenge upon was the Dallas Cowboys. For so many years the Cowboys were a thorn in the magnificent Favre's side. He was 3-9 against them lifetime. Asked before and after the game, Favre's response was the same "This is what I came back for." In his best post-season performance to date, Favre threw for another 4 TD's with no Turnovers against the Cowboys in a 34-3 demolition. Gone were the stinging memories of Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith's fury. Gone were the images of Jerry Jones's fist pumps after Michael Irvin pulled in yet another dramatic and acrobatic catch. It was the Play-Offs and Favre was the only star shining brightly.
After the game, a playful Favre said in jest,"Probably the most fatigued I got today was celebrating." Favre had conquered his final demon on the field, and he had plenty to smile about. He was one game from the Super Bowl and one day closer to raising that Lombardi trophy again. This time, he told himself, when he stands on the victory podium he’ll be remembered as the reason that they won -- not the Defense, not the other offensive players, and definitely not Desmond Howard!
On the cool morning of January 24th, 2010 at the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans, Brett Favre awoke in a deep sweat. “Why in the world is it so dang hot in here?” he thought. As he rolled over, he glanced at the window, and was startled to see that the window jutted open and the Devil sitting in the chair gazing at him. This time, it was a dashing 60 year-old version of Favre looking as magnificent and accomplished as ever.
"Dang, I'm never gonna lose it, am I old boy? You sure are a handsome man! Just downright handsome."
"Never. As long as you of course give me what is rightfully mine, you will go on living this charmed life forever," said the Devil as he wrapped his knuckles on top of the massive contract that Favre signed in the summer of 2008.
"What's yours?" Favre muttered with a puzzled look on his face.
"Yes, my boy. What's mine. Your soul, of course. I'll be taking that with me now," the Devil said pointedly as he was now growing impatient with his puppet. While he encounters this struggle each time he captures a soul and has heard all the claims of denial, the Devil bemusedly wondered, “What excuses does the Iron Man have in store for me?” He poured a glass of water from the pitcher and offered it to Favre.
Putting his hands up and shunning the glass as he walked toward the shower, Favre quipped, "I appreciate what you did for me back on the farm all those years ago when I needed the water, but I can tell you right now that what I have achieved in life is from my God-given talents, not something that you were able to conjure up." The Devil winced at that word, God.
What other athlete is the most likely to also have sold his soul to the Devil?
"I don't have any soul for you Devil, not today, not ever. That was never a part of our deal," Favre persisted.
"I've heard it a million times, so save your pathetic self-reliant speech and defiant tone," chuckled the Devil. " Your soul is mine, it says so right here on page 963. I gave you the records, I gave you the wins, I have gotten you into this position to get to the Super Bowl. It wasn't this God that you speak about," the Devil sneered as the volume of his voice increased with each word.
"And whose signature is that right next to the line that says I agree....hmmm, oh, that's right; it reads Brett Lorenzo Favre," growled the Devil, pointing to the mark Favre made with his very own blood.
"I don't care. I'm not giving it up, and I didn't even read your stupid contract. I'm keeping my soul. I need to get a shower and prepare for tonight's game," Favre said, turning his back to the Devil.
"So be it, Brett, but I must warn you that I enjoy the ensuing demise that occurs when someone reneges on their contract just as much as I do when I capture their soul."
Favre turned one last time, "I don't care what that mumbo jumbo means, I know I earned what I've got."
In a flash, the Devil turned himself into a battered and tattered old man, and limped to the door with a smile and said, "I will return you the way I found you. Good luck tonight, Iron Man!" With that, the Devil disappeared through the door and Favre hurriedly jumped in the shower, anticipating his first press conference of the day.
As the NFC Championship game between the Minnesota Vikings and the New Orleans Saints commenced, Favre started to feel nervous that he wasn't ready to lead the team. He started to second-guess himself and stared at a mirror in the locker room with a look of indecision. Had he really made a deal with the Devil for his soul, and had he really just told the Devil to stuff it? With a blink of the eye he no longer had any time for any of that to matter, as Jared Allen grabbed him by the shoulder pads and screamed, "Come on, Old Glory, time to take us to the Promised Land!"
The game started slowly and Favre came out not looking too sure of himself. As the teams got settled in, the first half found the Vikings down 14-7 with a few minutes left. Favre had already taken some severe hits from the Saints, but in usual fashion fought through the pain. As the incompletions piled up, it looked like the Favre of old would never re-emerge. Suddenly, he mixed a few short passes in with some long Adrian Peterson runs. Peterson got the Vikings to First and Goal, and of course, at this point Favre needed to step in for the glory. As expected, instead of a run, Favre called an audible at the line of scrimmage and threw a 5 yard STRIKE to his new favorite target Sidney Rice. Touch Down! "I've still got it," Favre tried to tell himself and his teammates.
As Brad Childress droned on about the importance of protecting the ball, Favre sat in a dizzying fray of agonizing pain. It wasn't just the hard hits that the Saints had put on him, but with every miniscule body movement he could feel the pain of every hit he had taken in his career. Every biting comment about his reckless interceptions, every Jets and Packers fan who labeled him a traitor...he could feel it all!
Before Favre knew it, they were mid-way through the second half and he was in the midst of an abysmal performance, only connecting on 52% of his passes. He had already turned the ball over twice via fumble and interception, yet the Vikings were still plugging along despite his terrible game-managing efforts. Adrian Peterson was able to keep the Vikings in the game with 2 second-half touchdowns (though he had a case of fumble-itis , too), and they were in field position as the 4th quarter was winding down to win the game. All Favre had to do was protect the ball on the final play and go for a high-percentage short yardage play to give Ryan Longwell an easier game winning field goal attempt. Get 5 yards, down it, kick the field goal, go to the Super Bowl. Quite simple really.
Instead, Favre's ego -- Favre's need to be MVP, Favre's inner-Favre -- ignored the easy opportunity to scramble and pick up a few extra yards on the ground. Instantly he saw a wide-open receiver a little further down the field and knew if he completed the pass he would get all the credit for the win, propelling the Vikings to the Super Bowl! He had played terrible to this point, but he had one last chance to redeem himself and be the hero. But, in that same instance, that Viking receiver disappeared and a Saint Defensive Back emerged picking off the pass. Overtime.
Everyone watching the game knew what would transpire next. The selfless leader of the Saints, Drew Brees, the Anti-Favre, led his team down the field. He had a situation similar to Favre's where he could go for a bigger play, but he chose to go a different route. A different path. He safely set up his kicker with the go-ahead field goal, as the song proclaims, "when the Saints go marching in!" Could a more aptly named team beat an old tattered QB who had sold his soul to the Devil yet refused to hand it over on the day of his comeuppance? Indeed.
After the game, Favre could barely move and solemnly told reporters, “I’ve felt better; it was a physical game. A lot of hits. You win that and you sure feel a lot better." What he really meant was, "I win that and I sure feel a lot better." The Devil promised Brett that he would return him to the state in which he found him. Suffocating. He suffocated on another NFC Championship loss that was sealed by him throwing interceptions late in the game. Choking. He choked on his personal pride that he placed well above any teammate's importance. And just plain purple! As Favre peeled off his purple and white clad uniform, it was evidently not the armor needed to keep his fragile body from turning black, blue, and purple. In New Orleans, the Saints beat Favre to a pulp. Luckily for him, Kiln wasn't very far for him to slink away to. He wanted to disappear. But the Devil couldn't just stop the bleeding here, could he?
The drama and saga continued. The question then became, “how do you con a con man?” Brad Childress who had conned the Viking Brass over the last few years that he was a quality coach, had been so duped by Favre's false talents that he courted him every week over the off-season with phone calls trying to lure him back to the NFL for one last Super Bowl run. Beaten Favre denied Childress time and time again, until some teammates hopped on a plane and built their case. Moved by emotions and the notion that his teammates needed him, and that the only chance the Vikings had at a Super Bowl ring was based on the strength of his arm, the Ole Gunslinger thought he "owed" it to his teammates to come back for one last year.
His return of course had NOTHING to do with continuing to add to his NFL records, and NOTHING to do with proving the Devil wrong and winning a Championship on his own merits. It was for the "teammates." Even the media who had adored Favre over the years wasn't buying into this final comeback and called for his retirement. Past players around the NFL noted that Favre wouldn't last the season. People were finally just plumb sick of Brett Favre.
Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it was pride that led to the downfall of Brett Lorenzo Favre. Indecision can sometimes be just an annoyance to people, but when it carries the same consequences as commiting a deadly sin, the punishment is much, much more severe. Favre's life took a huge turn when he continuously waffled about his initial retirement. He was a beaten man at the time, but one that still had a soul. He was still beloved and respected, though he had flaws. He had his regrets, but it was his pride that could not allow him to admit he was a beaten man. Pride is one of the Devil's favorite sins, and the one he takes advantage the most to capture souls.
Of course, that all took a turn on that hot Mississippi day in 2008. Even after the Devil held up his side of the bargain building Favre back up, Favre was so enamored with his achievements that he wasn't able to see that they weren't even his. But like the Devil said with his parting words, “I enjoy the ensuing demise that occurs when someone reneges on their contract, just as much as I do when I capture their soul."
Favre would awaken most nights in 2010 hearing the Devil’s haunting words, but he would suppress them, focusing on making one last glorious comeback. Unfortunately, when you try to dupe the Devil, the consequences tend to be immeasurable.
On the field, Favre could not have had a worse year. All of his flaws from years past of being an uncontrolled gunslinger came back to not only haunt him and all of his supporters, but it resulted in the worst statistical season of his career: 2509 yards passing. 11 Touch Downs. 19 Interceptions. 3 Fumbles. 6-10 record. Lost twice to the Green Bay Packers and also lost to the New York Jet team that he spurned in 2009. Countless nagging injuries, and the termination of his Iron Man consecutive games-played streak when his body just could not go any longer.
Favre tried to be a hero once again and returned against his most hated rival over the years, The Chicago Bears, but found that they were not as forgiving as others. In his final play, Favre was sacked, threw an interception, and was thrown to the frozen turf head first getting concussed. If someone knew any better, they may have said that the Bears were possessed on that play. Come to think of it, maybe they were!
Though Brad Childress's time was nearing its end, Brett Favre ensured that he would get axed. Favre aired internal dirty laundry, and Childress was banished. What type of disaster could happen next? Oh, just the collapsing of the
Metrodome’s roof! The roof’s collapse is not merely a metaphor for what Brett Favre's selfish actions have meant to the world, but also can be used as a direct warning of the physical ill will that may occur if you make the wrong decisions.
Off the field, those late night text messages to The Jets employees back in 2008 also came back to put Favre in extremely hot water. Turns out that he was sending inappropriate images of "little Brett" to some of the side
line reporters and masseuses that worked for The Jets. Of course, the NFL still looked at Favre as their golden boy so they let the investigation drag out over the entire season and did not hand down a customary suspension. Instead, Favre received a mere slap on the wrist in the form of a $50,000 non-compliance fine. Hmm, fishy. However, to date, Favre is still not out of the woods in this regard, as two of the unhappy masseuses have filed concurrent lawsuits. These legal issues are still ongoing, and let's not even get into conjecturing about how this will affect his marriage.
The negative impact of Favre's prideful deal with the Devil can even been seen in his sister's recent arrest for being a member of a methamphetamine ring. Though Brett is not directly at fault, the Devil always has the art of persuasion to sway the weak of mind. He came at Favre from all directions.
The Devil's last shot in this saga that will be simply known as "Favre's Untimely Resolve," is that he has helped pave the way for the team that hate Favre most and that Favre stabbed in the back a clear path to the Super Bowl. The Green Bay Packers will play for the Super Bowl, with the Packers taking home the Lombardi trophy by the pin-point accurate and strong arm of young Aaron Rodgers. This is the harshest blow the Devil can bestow on Favre as he will be forced to watch Rodgers raise the trophy, win the MVP and return to Green Bay as the hero. And in the end, those hallowed halls at Lambeau Field, well, you won't hear whispers of Favre's name anymore. Heck, they've long since dissipated into the cold Wisconsin air.
Sorry Brett, there ain't no duping the Devil.