Beaten and battered, Favre faces harsh reality : Packers Insider

Beaten and battered, Favre faces harsh reality

November 22, 2010 by  
Filed under News

Nov 23, 2010 ~ by Gary D’Amato, Journal-Sentinel

~Minneapolis — No matter how you feel about Brett Favre – if you once loved him and now despise him, if you consider him the greatest player ever to wear a Green Bay Packers uniform or a spiteful, petty, dishonest, traitorous old man – it was hard not to feel just a pinch of sympathy for him Sunday.

"I have played 20 years because of my passion and competitive nature," he said. "I know that hasn't changed. It sure was hard for me to walk off the field today after a loss like that."

Once a three-time NFL most valuable player and just last year still among the best quarterbacks in the game, Favre is finishing out his career with a team in a death spiral and looking every bit like a 41-year-old man in a young man’s game.

As purple-clad fans fled the Metrodome and Packers fans stayed behind to savor the closing minutes of a 31-3 beat-down of Favre and the Minnesota Vikings, chants of “Go, Pack, go!” must have rung hollow in Favre’s ear flaps.

This isn’t why he came back for a 20th season, but it’s his reality: The Vikings are 3-7 and going nowhere fast.

Favre is playing out the string, a Hall of Famer reduced to irrelevance save for a mythic consecutive-games-played streak that may, at some point soon, come to an end.

Asked after the game if he ever imagined things could go this badly for the Vikings, Favre said, “No. Nope. I know you want me to elaborate on it. This has got me at a loss for words. ‘Disappointing’ would be an understatement.”

If this was, indeed, the last time he faced his former team, the Packers said goodbye with a sack, an interception, seven quarterback hits and 60 minutes of harassment that forced Favre into a pedestrian 17-for-38, 208-yard day.

“I love him to death,” said Packers receiver Donald Driver, who caught 36 touchdown passes from Favre during the halcyon days in Green Bay. “But when you play this game, there’s no friends until it’s all over. I’m happy that we beat him.”

Favre insisted he was long past any hard feelings he harbored for the Packers’ organization, yet it’s hard to imagine a regular-season game he wanted to win more than this one, especially after he limped off Lambeau Field on Oct. 25 to a resounding chorus of boos after a 28-24 loss.

But the Vikings have been unable to rise above injuries and dissension in the locker room, and it appears coach Brad Childress is on the verge of losing his team, if he has not already lost it.

Though the Vikings say they’re not pointing fingers, they got in each other’s face on the sideline, and TV cameras caught Favre exchanging words with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell after the quarterback threw an interception deep in Packers territory with his team trailing, 10-3, in the second quarter.

It was Favre’s NFL-leading 17th interception. He is headed for the seventh 20-interception year of his career one year after throwing just seven.

“If Darrell didn’t care, if I didn’t care, we may have been laughing over there,” Favre said. “Darrell was trying to more or less rein me in and say that there is more football left, which I knew. . . . He knows that I get really frustrated, as every guy should. I was telling him that I was OK.”

Childress didn’t exactly give Favre a ringing endorsement when asked if he considered pulling the quarterback.

“I have to look at the tape,” Childress said, “but I didn’t see the upside of taking him out.”

In the game’s closing minutes, kicker Ryan Longwell and a few other Vikings consoled Favre in the bench area.

“They just came over and said to keep your head up,” Favre said. “They said, ‘I know it’s not what we envisioned when we came to your place’ (in Hattiesburg, Miss., to talk Favre into coming back for a 20th season).

“We’re in it together. I’m not going to say, ‘I told you guys,’ or ‘I shouldn’t have came back.’ I’m here. We’re in this thing together, either way, win or lose.”

As Favre walked off the field, a handful of Packers made their way through a phalanx of photographers to pat the quarterback on the helmet or shoulder pads and wish him well.

“One thing we always say is that we miss one another,” Driver said. “I asked him if he would be OK and he said, ‘Yeah,’ and then he said, ‘I love you.’ I said, ‘I love you, too.’ And that was it.”

Safety Nick Collins told Favre to “keep his head up and keep playing.”

“He said, ‘Y’all keep going. You’re playing good. You can do it,’ ” Collins said.

Defensive end Cullen Jenkins said he felt sympathy for Favre, who also is being investigated by the NFL for allegedly sending lewd photos and racy text messages to a former New York Jets employee.

“We’ve been watching him the whole season, watching everything he’s going through,” Jenkins said. “You feel bad for him as a former teammate. He’s a pretty cool guy. You don’t wish bad luck on anybody. It’s just one of those things. He’s having a tough year and hopefully he’ll be able to get past it, whatever direction he goes in after this season.”

The more pressing question: Which direction will Favre’s season take next?

Asked if he was concerned about his quarterback remaining “engaged” for the last six games, Childress said, “That’s always a concern as a coach. Everybody’s got to be engaged and has to contribute the best they can. Again, that’s what those guys get paid for.”

Favre said all the right things when asked if he wanted to play out the string.

“I have played 20 years because of my passion and competitive nature,” he said. “I know that hasn’t changed. It sure was hard for me to walk off the field today after a loss like that, (or) last week, and for that matter at any point in my career.

“I take so much pride in the way I play and what is expected of me, which is always maybe a little bit more than the next guy.”

Long before the current generation of young Vikings fans started wearing purple No. 4 jerseys, Favre replaced an injured Dan Majkowksi in the Packers lineup and the legend began.

Today, in the winter of his career, gray-haired and battered by years of collisions with marauding linebackers and blitzing safeties, Favre has come full circle.

The ends to these things are rarely pretty.

Full story HERE

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