Sunday 4 December 2016

American Football: Favre passes every endurance test

Eamonn Sweeney

Published 09/01/2011 | 05:00

The end of the regular NFL season would seem to mark the end of the career of Brett Favre, one of the most remarkable performers ever produced by the game of American Football.

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Favre wasn't just one of the best quarterbacks to play the sport, he is the all-time record holder for touchdown passes, passing yards and pass completions, but also the most durable player in its history, playing 321 consecutive games over 18 and a half years, a truly remarkable achievement in a game where injury is an ever-present threat.

He played while injured many times but what is striking about his career is how it sometimes seemed to be a never-ending battle against adversity.

Struggle 1: As a high school quarterback in the town of Kiln, Mississippi, he suffered because his coach believed in the running game and hardly gave Favre a chance to throw the ball. The coach was Brett's father Irvin. Only one college offered him a scholarship, Southern Mississippi, and they wanted him as a safety rather than a quarterback.

Struggle 2: When he made his debut as a 17-year-old at quarterback for them against Tulane, Favre was dying with a hangover after drinking 18 beers the night before. He did a lot of vomiting while leading the team to victory.

Struggle 3: In his senior year in college, Favre almost died in a car accident and had to have 30 inches of small intestine removed. Six weeks later he was playing again.

Struggle 4: In 1991, he ranked a lowly 33rd in the NFL draft and never found favour at the Atlanta Falcons because of his reputation as a party animal.

Struggle 5: Green Bay Packers were about to sign him from Atlanta a year later when a medical revealed a potentially career-ending hip condition. The club's doctors urged Green Bay to cancel the move but were over-ruled by the team management. He would go on to steer the club to one Superbowl, in 1997, two NFC championships and eight divisional titles.

Struggle 6: In 1996, perhaps not surprisingly, Favre was revealed to be suffering from an addiction to the painkiller Vicodin and spent almost seven weeks in rehab.

Struggle 7: Favre's father died of a heart attack on December 21, 2003. The next day Favre earned the highest passer rating of his career when throwing four touchdown passes against the Oakland Raiders. After the game, he went to the funeral.

Struggle 8: Favre's wife Deanna was diagnosed with breast cancer, which she beat, in 2004. The following year Hurricane Katrina destroyed his family's home and badly damaged his own house in Mississippi.

Struggle 9: After a few years of Frank Sinatra-style retirements and comebacks, Favre looks like giving up for good this year after a patchy season with the Minnesota Vikings during which he finally missed a game through injury. The season brought allegations of sexual harassment against him by a female employee of the New York Jets, the team he played for in 2008 and a fine by the league for failing to co-operate with their investigation into the matter. There's always something.

Struggle 10: For those who don't know anything about American sport. Well, do you know the bit at the end of There's Something About Mary, where the Cameron Diaz character's real boyfriend turns up? That's Brett Favre. Though maybe getting to hug Cameron Diaz isn't exactly a struggle.

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