" ... sure I
made a mistake or two."
still bleary, to survey the scene. The room, and his thoughts, are slightly out
of focus. His bell has been rung, hard, tolling another game played, another
battle fought and lost, another step toward the end of things. He sits gingerly
on the edge of his locker. He bends but can't reach to tie his shoes. He sits
up slowly, waits, then puts his hands to his knees and pushes himself upright.
He wobbles there a second. After midnight, laces flapping, he shuffles into the
In this age of
corporate quarterbacking, wherein all directives come down from the head
office, and the position is really no sexier or more autonomous than that of a
regional operations manager, Favre remains a "gunslinger." No Green Bay
offensive series of more than four or five plays can be broadcast on television
without the use of that word. "He's always been a gunslinger," the
announcer will say after Favre completes another 27-yard slingshot off his back
foot among four converging defenders, or launches a ball into the third row of
signifier of Old West courage, swagger, improvisation and marksmanship,
gunslinger also implies a sort of willful and counterproductive recklessness.
In an era of quarterbacks praised for their clock-management skills and their
low-key willingness to meet the weekly yardage quota nine feet at a time, it's
a compliment that takes away as much as it gives.
another chestnut of the broadcast booth. In fact, the nature and number of
clich�s Favre attracts would make for a potent drinking game. And since he
himself has long since sworn off, hoist a few in his honor. Drink a shot of
redeye when you hear gunslinger. A dram of rum for swashbuckler. A glass of
wine whenever an announcer uses the phrase vintage Favre. Drink a mug of
Ovaltine when you hear He looks like a kid out there. Chug whenever you hear
He's just trying to make something happen or He threw that one off his back
foot. And if you're a Packers fan, drink a double shot and turn off the
television when you hear He tried to force that one in there.
St. Louis beats
the Packers the following Sunday. A bad loss. In the last minute the Green Bay
pocket collapses deep in Rams territory, and the ball is batted from Favre's
hand. This is variously described by the sporting press as a "backside
containment failure" or a " Favre fumble." He walks off the field
shaking his head.
And so another
love note to Favre from the Internet, the endless electronic American id:
Knowing the team is so bad, why bother coming back? Is it ego or stupidity?
The Packers' bye
week at last arrives. Favre visits Hattiesburg, Miss., to watch his eldest
daughter, Brittany, a senior at Oak Grove High, play in a regional volleyball
tournament. He spends most of the rest of his free time in a tree stand far out
in the Wisconsin woods. The leaves fall and the deer come and go beneath him
while he sits in solitude.
His wife, Deanna,
and his younger daughter, Breleigh, have errands to run, however, and plenty to
do. Even in the midst of such a titanic struggle as an NFL season and the
losing campaign against time itself, there's school and the grocery shopping
and, on a rainy autumn afternoon, gym class.
tough, beautiful and practical, waits in the car while Breleigh tumbles and
cartwheels. She keeps her hands on the wheel while talking about the decision
that led them all back to Green Bay for another year.