Packer Plus - - News - Aaron Na­gler

Hall of Famer is can­did about abus­ing drugs, al­co­hol

The story of Brett Favre con­quer­ing ad­dic­tion and lead­ing the Green Bay Pack­ers to vic­tory in Su­per Bowl XXXI is a clas­sic tale told many times through­out the years.

Re­cently, how­ever, Favre spoke to Peter King for his last Mon­day Morn­ing Quar­ter­back col­umn for Sports Il­lus­trated and dis­cussed the true depths to which he plum­meted dur­ing that pe­riod of his life.

King talked to Favre over the week­end, and the Hall of Fame quar­ter­back told King he had gone into re­hab three times dur­ing his Pack­ers ca­reer (not just in 1996 when he en­tered the NFL’s sub­stance-abuse pro­gram) and how al­co­hol had been his gate­way drug.

Em­bed­ded in Green Bay for a Sports Il­lus­trated cover story back in 1995, King wrote at the time how he was im­pressed with what he per­ceived to be Favre’s “tire­less­ness.” Lit­tle did he know what was be­hind the quar­ter­back’s ap­par­ent non-stop mo­tor.

“Oh, I re­mem­ber that week,” Favre told King. “You thought, ‘Man, this guy’s high on life.’ You didn’t know there was a rea­son for it. It is re­ally amaz­ing, as I think back, how well I played that year. That was an MVP year for me. But that year, when I woke up in the morn­ing, my first thought was, ‘I gotta get more pills.’

“I took 14 Vi­codin, yes, one time. I was get­ting an hour or two of sleep many nights. Maybe 30 min­utes of qual­ity sleep. I was the MVP on a pain-pill buzz. The crazy thing was, I’m not a night owl. With­out pills, I’d fall asleep at 9:30. But with pills, I could get so much done, I just fig­ured, ‘This is awe­some.’ Lit­tle did I know (fi­ancée and now wife) Deanna would be find­ing some of my pills and when she did, she’d flush them down the toi­let.”

“I ac­tu­ally went to re­hab three times. I saw the most suc­cess­ful, smart peo­ple — doc­tors, pro­fes­sional peo­ple — lose it all, ruin their lives. A year or two be­fore you saw me, I went to a place in Rayville, La., just out­side Mon­roe. It was pills then too,” Favre re­called to King. “Dean- na and [agent] Bus [Cook] talked me into it. I didn’t think I had a prob­lem, but they talked me into it. I went for 28 days. When I got out, I was able to con­trol my­self for a while. I wouldn’t take any­thing for a day or two, and I wouldn’t drink. But I was a binge drinker. When I drank, I drank to ex­cess.

“So when I went in the sec­ond time, to the place in Kansas, I re­mem­ber vividly fight­ing them in there. They said drink­ing was the gate­way drug for me, and they were right, ab­so­lutely right, but I wouldn’t ad­mit it. I will never for­get one of the nurses. I had it all fig­ured out. I fought with this nurse all the time. I would not ad­mit the drink­ing prob­lem. At the end she said to me, ‘You’ll be back.’”

In one of the more un­sur­pris­ing de­vel­op­ments of the story, the nurse was cor­rect.

“I was back. 1998. Guess who was wait­ing there when I walked in — that same nurse. This time it was strictly for drink­ing,” Favre told King. “I didn’t go back to the pills. I ad­mit­ted my prob­lem, I was in there 28 days, and it worked. When I got out, the tough­est thing was the first three months, be­cause I had to change my thought process.

“When I played golf be­fore, I re­al­ized the only rea­son I wanted to play was to drink. Af­ter a while, in­stead of think­ing, ‘How many beers can we drink in 18 holes?’ I fell into a pat­tern of what could I do to get good at golf. I re­al­ized with each pass­ing day I re­ally didn’t like drink­ing.”

King called Favre “the most com­pelling per­son I’ve cov­ered in my 29 years here.”


For­mer Pack­ers quar­ter­back Brett Favre talks with head coach Mike Holm­gren dur­ing the first prac­tice of the 1998 sea­son. Favre told Sports Il­lus­trated he en­tered drug re­hab three times dur­ing his ca­reer.

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