Favre was all business, however, when he called Green Bay general manager Ron Wolf in early July after a 45-day stay in a rehab facility for his addiction. He told Wolf not to worry. And then he said, "We're going to the Super Bowl, Ron."
"I believe it too," Favre says. "We're a better team. And I've got so much driving me. Number one, I won the MVP award last year, and that thrill lasted about a week and a half. We lost to the Cowboys in the NFC Championship Game, and it was like the MVP didn't matter. Two, the game's in New Orleans, right near my home [in Diamondhead, Miss.]. Three, I want to prove everyone wrong who thinks I'm some drug addict. Four, I want to do it for Reggie. I tell every guy every day: We're only playing for one thing."
West of Green Bay, past the Lombardi Middle School, the person who best knows Favre is moving into her new castle. In May, Deanna Tynes, then Favre's girlfriend, had tearfully revealed the darkest secrets of his addiction to the painkiller Vicodin. Now, in late July, Deanna Favre, a newlywed of two weeks, is standing in her bright kitchen and beaming. "I'm sure he'll make it," she says of her husband's recovery. "Brett doesn't want Vicodin anymore."
What does he want? "One thing," he says. "The Super Bowl."
The record is disappointing. But it's real.
The cliché is there for all to whisper: Can't win the big one. Remarkably Schottenheimer has coached his teams (the Cleveland Browns and the Chiefs) to the playoffs in 10 of his 11 NFL seasons. But the man who has the most regular-season wins over the past decade (112) is only 5-10 in the postseason. The loss to Indianapolis in January was a typical heartbreaker. The Chiefs, who had the fewest turnovers in the AFC in '95, turned the ball over four times against the Colts. Lin Elliott missed held goals of 35, 39 and 42 yards.
"As you know," Schottenheimer says, recalling the emotional aftermath, "I've had a few too many of those locker room scenes in my life."
There were those two AFC Championship Games: the one in Cleveland in January 1987, after John Elway drove the Denver Broncos 98 yards to tie the game with 39 seconds left in regulation—a series forever known as the Drive—then took them down the field again in overtime to keep Schottenheimer's Browns out of the Super Bowl; and the one in Denver a year later, after Cleveland's Earnest Byner fumbled with 1:12 left while going in for what would have been the tying touchdown—a play forever known as the Fumble. There was Cleveland's one-point loss to Houston in December '88 and Kansas City's one-point loss to Miami two seasons later. "The only game that's ever stuck with me is the one with the Drive," says Schottenheimer. "It was so uncharacteristic for us to have allowed that, and it's something I still feel a little bit. But the rest? That's football."
The shame of it all is that Schottenheimer has always been a terrific teacher. He developed Byner in Cleveland. Two former CFL stars, defensive end Vaughn Booker and wideout-returner Tamarick Vanover, have grown into important players on this team. The Chiefs have tapped the waiver wire and the World League for talent and have no high-profile free agents except Allen.
"I don't know if Marty is obsessed with winning a Super Bowl, but he should be," says Byner, who remains close to his former coach. "The Super Bowl has to be in his destiny. Marty has never told me about how much he wants to win a Super Bowl, but he doesn't have to. It's just like the Fumble. I didn't have to tell him how much I hurt. He knew. Well, Marty doesn't have to tell me how much he hurts from not winning a championship. I know."