Family Issues Take Precedence For Brett Favre

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Sunday's game versus the Seattle Seahawks will carry special significance for Brett Favre.

He will play against his former head coach, Mike Holmgren. He will wrap up his 15th season. And the game could serve as his last in a Packers uniform.

But that doesn't mean the emotions of the moment will preoccupy the future Hall of Famer. Family tragedies during the past two years have desensitized Favre.

"They've numbed me and my family to some of our on-the-field issues," Favre said.

Those off-the-field issues include his father and brother-in-law's death, his wife's breast cancer treatment and the destruction of his family home as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Favre still copes with the disastrous consequences of that September hurricane.

"It took out a lot of our enjoyment," Favre said. "If we're sitting here in first place and going to the playoffs, it would still take a big chunk out of us."

His most recent setback involves his 87-year-old grandmother, Izella French. She suffered a stroke on Dec. 13. Much of Favre's family did not visit him during Christmas because they took care of French instead. They tended to her around the clock, helping her perform daily tasks and re-learn how to walk. Favre attributes her stroke to the after effects of Katrina.

"She would not be in the hospital if it weren't for that hurricane," he said.

Favre partly returned for the 2005 season to enjoy an NFL season without distractions. That did did not happen. But he will not base a decision to play in 2006 with expectations of a tragedy-free season.

Favre, however, looks forward to spending more time with his family. Even after a poor performance, his six-year-old daughter, Breleigh, would welcome him home by telling him how well he played.

"The last two years I have realized family is more important," Favre said.

His longing to see more of his family does not mean he will retire after the season. Favre has not decided whether Sunday's game will be his last.

"I don't know. I haven't really thought about it," he said. "I don't know what I'm leaning towards. I want to have a good reason."

To cap his career with a winning season -- rather than the Packers' current 3-12 mark -- also will not serve as a reason to continue playing. Favre has reached the playoffs 11 times and won a Super Bowl. He knows he will go down in football history as a winner no matter when he retires.

"I don't have to win a Super Bowl to go out on top," Favre said. "That would not affect me as some people might think it would."

Although Favre has thrown a career and current NFL-high of 28 interceptions, his performance this year also will not cause him to hang it up. Favre said he feels like a premier NFL quarterback.

"I feel pretty good. I really do," Favre said. "My arm feel as good now as it ever has. I'm moving around better this year than I have in the last few."

Holmgren watches more defensive than offensive film, but he said Favre looks as sharp as he did when he coached him from 1992-1998. He still throws with great arm strength and has the mobility to shake off pass rushers.

"When I watch him on film -- physically -- he looks like he is the same guy," Holmgren said.

Playing on an offense missing Javon Walker, Bubba Franks, Terrence Murphy, Najeh Davenport and Ahman Green due to injury, Favre likely has accumulated the interceptions by putting too much on his shoulders.

"He feels responsible to get the whole thing done almost by himself," Holmgren said. "It's impossible to do."

Favre recently has talked with two retired superstar quarterbacks, Dan Marino and Troy Aikman. But they faced different scenarios as they ended their careers. Marino played 17 years because he sought a Super Bowl title while concussions brought Aikman's career to an early halt. In contrast Favre has won a title and has not suffered a serious injury all year.

Whether the Seahawks game ends Favre's career or just his season, it will have meaning. But after the tribulations of the last two years, Favre knows how to keep football in perspective and place his family first.

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