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Bitter Pill
Peter King
May 27, 1996
Packer Brett Favre tells SI how the pain of playing in the NFL led to his addiction to painkillers and, nearly, his death
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May 27, 1996

Bitter Pill

Packer Brett Favre tells SI how the pain of playing in the NFL led to his addiction to painkillers and, nearly, his death

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NFL player after NFL player last week expressed sympathy for Favre, who was worried he would be cast as a druggie if he stepped forward and admitted his addiction. "I'm not blaming anyone," he said. "It's my fault. The only reason I ever did this was because I had to. Had to. I had to play. Injuries have cost a lot of guys their jobs in this league, and there was no way an injury was ever going to cost me my job. Then it just got out of hand."

Said Arizona Cardinals quarterback Boomer Esiason, "The worst thing in this league is getting an injury tag. I hope this opens the eyes of some players, but I doubt anyone will show the guts Brett showed in standing up there and admitting his problem."

After his news conference Favre spent much of the night on the phone calling stunned friends. Only once in his conversation with SI did his voice dip a few octaves and show how deeply his tough outer shell has been dented. "I'm 26 years old, I just threw 38 touchdown passes in one year, and I'm the NFL MVP," he said. "People look at me and say, 'I'd love to be that guy.' But if they knew what it took to be that guy, they wouldn't love to be him, I can guarantee you that. I'm entering a treatment center tomorrow. Would they love that?"

Counselors denied Favre's request to delay reporting to rehab so he could host the first Brett Favre Celebrity Golf Tournament in Gulfport, Miss. The event went on without him last Friday and Saturday at the Windance Country Club. Tynes was there. As she sat in a golf cart under a shade tree near the 18th green, she talked about why she had hope for Favre. "A couple of years ago Brett told me he wanted to be the best quarterback in the NFL," she said. "He committed himself to it, and he did it. He'll commit himself to this. He knows his career and his life are at stake."

Tynes wiped her eyes. She took a deep breath. She sniffled a few times. "You know," she said, "he's changed already. He talks to me again. He takes Brittany and me out. He pays attention to us. A few days ago he hugged me and he thanked me for everything I've done, and he said some really nice things to me."

She wiped her eyes again. "I said, 'I can't believe it. The old Brett's back!' "

Time will tell. The true test will start in September.

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