With two minutes remaining in a 42-10 dismemberment of the San Diego Chargers on Sunday, Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre stood on the Lambeau Field sideline, yukking it up with defensive end Reggie White and eating Gummi Bears out of a paper cup. These days, that's about as hard as Favre is allowed to party.
The main, source of excitement in the second half had come from waiting to see which Packer would score next and how much elevation he would get while leaping into the arms of Green Bay fans in the end zone stands. Favre, despite throwing three touchdown passes, abstained from taking any Lambeau Leaps, explaining that he needed to "work a little bit more on my vertical jump."
Let us climb out on a limb and predict that before this season is over, some team will give Green Bay a game. Until that occurs, however, the NFL might consider enacting a mercy rule. After holding the Chargers to 33 yards rushing and handing coach Bobby Ross the worst loss in his five-year NFL career, the undefeated, untested Packers had outscored their three opponents this season 115-26. They had yielded five turnovers against 13 takeaways, the last of those thefts being the most dramatic. The Butler did it.
Just as the Chargers showed a glimmer of life by driving to Green Bay's 12-yard line with just under seven minutes to play and the Pack leading by 18, strong safety LeRoy Butler suckered quarterback Stan Humphries into throwing his second interception of the day (Butler picked off the first one, too). A little more than a month after being fitted for contact lenses—he had his eyes examined after dropping a potential interception in the preseason—Butler correctly read a look-in pass to San Diego running back Terrell Fletcher.
In high-stepping the final 30 yards of his 90-yard return, Butler expended energy he otherwise needed to propel himself into the stands. His Lambeau Leap was by far the weakest of the day, with the faithful hauling him into the seats like a distressed swimmer into a boat. "Cut the man some slack," Packers free safety Eugene Robinson said afterward. "If I ever run that far for a touchdown, I'm bringing a stepladder."
With everyone getting into the act, who is to say Robinson's stepladder scenario won't be realized? Less than two minutes after Butler's touchdown, Desmond Howard took his turn, scoring on a 65-yard punt return and doing a graceful Fosbury Flop to celebrate.
How good is this Green Bay team? Frighteningly good is the conclusion of new wideout Don Beebe, the former Buffalo Bill and Carolina Panther, who told Favre after the game, "It's scary. This team is better than any Bills team I played on."
"And he played in three Super Bowls!" said Favre, who quickly brought his excitement under control. "We've only played three games. And the rest of our schedule is brutal."
Nevertheless, his team is clearly the class of the league, his quarterback rating is an out-of-this-world 116.2, and his agent, Bus Cook, was in Titletown last week to negotiate a new contract that will probably pay Favre more than $6 million a year over the next seven years. What's more, Favre is in the best shape of his life, happily married, drug-free and sober.
And royally ticked off. Favre is angry at the NFL because, in his view, he did the right thing and got slammed for it. On May 14, Favre publicly admitted his addiction to the painkiller Vicodin (SI, May 27), and the next day he was bound for Topeka, Kans., where he underwent a 45-day rehabilitation at the Menninger Clinic. But last week Favre revealed that checking into the clinic wasn't his idea; he did so under pressure from the league.