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Excerpt: Brett Favre Talks Tough


Note: The following is an excerpt from the new book, FAVRE, written by Brett Favre and his mother, Bonita Favre, with Green Bay Press-Gazette columnist Chris Havel. FAVRE is a dazzling tribute to the Packers' future Hall of Famer, with personal family photos and remembrances, stunning four-color action shots, and inspiring stories. In the following excerpt, Favre talks about toughness. Click here to purchase the book online at

I went from seldom reading Men's Journal to being its biggest fan overnight.

I was surprised, pleased, and pretty embarrassed to hear that an article in the magazine's March 2004 issue named me "The Toughest Guy in America." At first I thought it was a joke, or a mistake, and that there was nothing to it.

When I saw the article I was blown away.

Seriously, I was honored to think I would even be considered for such a title. A panel of 100 experts in various professions voted for their toughest guy, based on perseverance, fearlessness, pain threshold, and modesty. The competition was amazing, and there were many in the Top 25 Toughest that I would have voted in ahead of me.

The runner-up was a Time senior correspondent, Michael Weisskopf, who was riding in an open-air Humvee in Baghdad when a grenade was tossed into the vehicle. He grabbed the grenade and tossed it out as it exploded. Nobody was killed, but he lost his right hand. Wow. The guy isn't just tough. He's a hero.

Some of the other top vote-getters were seriously tough, too. A guy named Matt Hughes, an ultimate fighter, finished third. He is the five-time defending champion welterweight ultimate fighter. He also works 15-hour days on his family's farm and has been known to sprint quarter-mile hills 14 times in a row. I also beat out Hillary Clinton, who finished 25th. I have no idea how tough Mrs. Clinton is, but after reading the article I probably don't want to find out. It said, "Is there anyone who doubts that the toughest penalty Bill paid for the Monica scandal was at home?" They may have a point there.

The article credited me for playing with a broken thumb in 2003 and for starting 208 consecutive games, including playoffs, which is an NFL record for quarterbacks. It also printed a list of all my past injuries. I swear I winced while reading it -- some of these injuries are better left in the past. A first-degree separation of my left shoulder in 1992, a deep thigh bruise in 1993, a severely bruised left hip in 1994, right elbow tendonitis in 2000, a left foot sprain also in 2000, a sprained lateral collateral ligament in my left knee in 2002, and of course, the broken thumb last season.

Whew! That's quite a list. I'm not sure if it makes me the toughest guy in America, but it sure makes me one of the most beaten up. It's a funny, maybe not-so-funny, thing with injuries. The older a player gets, the more the injuries seem to hurt, and the longer they take to heal.

My knee injury against the Washington Redskins in 2002 comes to mind. Everything was going just fine until the Redskins' LaVar Arrington shot past Earl Dotson on a blitz and nailed me for a sack.

One minute I'm putting the finishing touches on what eventually was a 30-9 blowout win. The next minute I'm flat on my back wondering whether or not my leg is broken. That's why "toughness" is so difficult to define. I might be considered tough because I've started so many games in a row.

Sure, there were times when I seriously didn't think I was going to play the next week, but somehow it always worked out. It's impossible to gauge if another quarterback, with the same injury, would have sat out. It's not fair to say, because there's no way to know. What I do know is that I do everything in my power each week to be the Packers' starting quarterback. It means something to me. After that, it's out of my hands.

I can't describe how appreciative and thankful I am to be durable enough, or lucky enough, to have started 208 straight games. It's not something you set out to do. The games just start to add up over the years. I'm always careful to make sure I never take it for granted.

We can all be lulled to sleep sometimes by being able to play every week and overcoming injuries.

There have been times where, for just a brief second, I almost felt invincible. But I'm very aware that at any point it could be taken away. Some people may say it's a wakeup call, but I've said all along, especially this year, that you're just a hit away.

At some point, you either retire, they no longer want you, or an injury forces you out. It's as simple as that. Which one of those is my exit? I don't know. I'd like to be able to go out on my terms.

Fortunately, especially after looking at the Arrington hit, I knew it could have been a lot worse, I could have been seriously injured. But who's to say what will happen the next time? And I don't want to wait until the point where I know I'm not playing very well and the team knows I'm not playing very well, and it's just a matter of time. I don't want that to happen.

The physical toughness is inherited and taught, and on both counts, I have Mom and Dad to thank for that.

They introduced me to sports, and especially football, at a very young age. I was three when I got my first football uniform, including the helmet and shoulder pads, for Christmas. I got a baseball uniform shortly afterward. We were always throwing a ball of some sort around.

We loved playing football in the yard. It was brutal.

We used to take a hose, water down the yard, and put our football pads on. Then we'd get after it.

We'd be flying around in the mud, knocking the heck out of each other. We played tackle football with whoever was around. Usually it was just the three boys. Noses got smashed. Fingers got mangled. There was blood. But there were never too many fights. There was a lot of arguing and shoving. We'd get ticked at each other, but that was it. We'd argue and the next day we'd be right out there again like nothing ever happened.

One game we made up as kids to pass the time was called goal line. Scott and I would play defense, and Jeff would play offense. We gave Jeff the ball five yards from the goal line and he had to try to score in four plays. And there was no running around us. Jeff had to run through us to score. We used to beat the heck out of him. God, we played that game all the time, even when Scott was in college. Here's Jeff, about 13, and his two big brothers pounding on him. We busted each other up pretty good. But that's what we did for fun.

Excerpt from the book FAVRE appears courtesy of Rugged Land Books and NFL Publishing. Copyright (c) 2004 by Brett Favre, Bonita Favre, and Chris Havel. All rights reserved.

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