In the last “Monday Morning Quarterback” column Peter King will write for Sports Illustrated, he called Brett Favre “the most compelling person I’ve covered in my 29 years here.”
It’s not just that Favre was a great player that made him so compelling. He was a complicated player. He didn’t fit into the stereotype of the great quarterback. Favre was a goofball. An MVP-winning goofball. An MVP-winning goofball who battled a very serious addiction to prescription pills. The former Packers quarterback opened up about that rough period during his career – which also coincided with his prime years – in King’s last MMQB.
Via Sports Illustrated:
[Favre] spent 72 days in a drug clinic in Kansas City to get off Vicodin. This weekend, we talked about that, and about the end in Green Bay, and I found out something I never knew: I thought he went to rehab to kick his addictions once. Triple that.
“Oh, I remember that week,” Favre said over the phone. “You thought, ‘Man, this guys’s high on life.’ You didn’t know there was a reason for it. It is really amazing, as I think back, how well I played that year. That was an MVP year for me. But that year, when I woke up in the morning, my first thought was, ‘I gotta get more pills.’ I took 14 Vicodin, yes, one time. I was getting an hour or two of sleep many nights. Maybe 30 minutes of quality sleep. I was the MVP on a pain-pill buzz…
“I actually went to rehab three times. I saw the most successful, smart people-doctors, professional people-lose it all, ruin their lives. A year or two before you saw me, I went to a place in Rayville, La., just outside Monroe. It was pills then too. Deanna and [agent] Bus [Cook] talked me into it. I didn’t think I had a problem, but they talked me into it. I went for 28 days. When I got out, I was able to control myself for a while. I wouldn’t take anything for a day or two, and I wouldn’t drink. But I was a binge drinker. When I drank, I drank to excess. So when I went in the second time, to the place in Kansas, I remember vividly fighting them in there. They said drinking was the gateway drug for me, and they were right, absolutely right, but I wouldn’t admit it. I will never forget one of the nurses. I had it all figured out. I fought with this nurse all the time. I would not admit the drinking problem. At the end, she said to me, ‘You’ll be back.’
“I was back. 1998. Guess who was waiting there when I walked in-that same nurse. This time, it was strictly for drinking. I didn’t go back to the pills. I admitted my problem, I was in there 28 days, and it worked. When I got out, the toughest thing was the first three months, because I had to change my thought process. When I played golf before, I realized the only reason I wanted to play was to drink. After a while, instead of thinking, ‘How many beers can we drink in 18 holes?’ I fell into a pattern of what could I do to get good at golf. I realized with each passing day I really didn’t like drinking.”
Favre’s battle with addiction wasn’t a secret. He held a press conference in 1995 to announce he’d be checking himself into rehab. But we did not know the breadth of his addiction … until now. Thanks to King, who has been unearthing stories like this one for nearly three decades.
You can read King’s entire column here. It’s worth your time.
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