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2007 Sportsman of the Year Sportsman of the Year Archive

2007 Sportsman of the Year

At 38, Brett Favre is having one of his finest seasons. But that is far from the Green Bay QB's best attribute

Posted: Tuesday December 4, 2007 12:05AM; Updated: Tuesday December 4, 2007 8:37AM
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2007 Sportsman of Year: Brett Favre.
2007 Sportsman of Year: Brett Favre.
Walter Iooss Jr./SI
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By Alan Shipnuck

There is no happier place than Green Bay, Wis., on a Sunday evening after the Packers have won. The beer tastes better, the girls are even prettier, and few seem to notice the bite in the air. In a town defined by its team, civic temperament can be quantified on a scoreboard. A few weeks ago, in the moments after the Packers had defeated the Carolina Panthers 31-17 at Lambeau Field, the parking lot was alive with merriment. Kids in number 4 jerseys and GOT BRETT? sweatshirts chased footballs with reckless abandon, tailgaters handed out bratwurst right off the grill, and one optimistic gent tried to sweet-talk the more attractive passersby into adding to the impressive collection of donated bras he had strung up on a flagpole.

The epicenter of Green Bay's game-day good cheer is adjacent to Lambeau, just across Holmgren Way, a block over from Lombardi Avenue: Brett Favre's Steakhouse, located at 1004 Brett Favre Pass. The restaurant ("Where you are the MVP!") is a 20,000-square-foot temple to the Packers' quarterback, and following the Panthers game Favre's extended family had gathered in a private back room for a celebration of its own.

Brett's wife, Deanna, was there, looking glamorous in a long coat and high-heeled boots. Even before her memoir about beating breast cancer hit The New York Times's best-seller list, she was the second-biggest celebrity in Green Bay. Favre's mother, Bonita, was holding court at one of the half-dozen tables, her throaty laugh audible over the din. Brett's sister, Brandi, was cooing over her newborn daughter, Myah, while his brothers, Scott and Jeff, were busy refereeing their young sons, who were creating a ruckus by playing tackle football with an empty water bottle. Also enjoying the spread of steak and crawfish and all the fixings were various cousins, neighbors and hangers-on. In this loud, lively gathering only one person was missing -- the man for whom the restaurant and the street are named.

In his 16th winter in Green Bay, Favre has turned into Gatsby, throwing a party he no longer enjoys. While his family and friends were reliving every detail of his three-touchdown performance against Carolina, Favre was at home a couple of miles away, stretched out on his couch, watching that day's NFL highlights and cuddling with his lapdog, Charlie. By the ostentatious standards of modern-day celebrity, Favre's house is modest, but it suits him fine. On this Sunday evening it was dark and quiet, giving him some precious hours to decompress. There was a time when Favre never skipped a chance to celebrate -- "Hell, I always had to be the life of the party," he says -- but now solitude is what he thirsts for.

"As I've gotten older, I've become more of a loner," Favre says. "You've just been out there in front of 80,000 screaming people, everyone watching every move you make, the pressure of all that -- it's fine and dandy for three hours, but afterward...." Here Favre takes a big, billowing breath. "I used to thrive on that adrenaline. I never wanted it to end. Now I need to get back to reality. Like sitting on the couch with Charlie."

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