Having already coped with the consequences of Hurricane Katrina and in the midst of the first losing season of his NFL career, Brett Favre experienced more tragedy as his grandmother, Izella French, suffered a stroke on Tuesday.
She has experienced weakness in her left side and did not know the date or month this morning. French also took a while to recognize Brett's younger brother, Jeff. Brett described her as "going in and out." On Wednesday afternoon a speech therapist was supposed to check on French while she remains in a Natchez, Miss. hospital. Brett, however, expressed some optimism.
"The fact that she's in there with a stroke is not good," he said. "But they think she should be okay."
Favre's maternal grandmother lived with his mother Bonita for 20 years. Brett and his brothers Scott and Jeff and sister Brandi affectionately call her "Mee-Maw."
"We're all real close with her," Brett said.
The likely options for the 87-year-old French include surgery or rehabilitation, and Brett does not know which course of action she will go undergo.
"We're seeing what our best options are," Brett said. "I don't know where we go from here."
During the past two years, Favre's father and brother-in-law passed away, and his wife developed breast cancer. Favre admitted part of the reason he returned in 2005 was so that he could enjoy the season.
In September Hurricane Katrina destroyed his hometown of Kiln, Miss. and displaced his entire family.
The 2005 NFL season has not gone as Favre hoped either, but he put together a strong performance last week during the team's third victory of the season. His numbers -- 21-of-31 for 170 yards and an interception -- may seem modest, but he played smart, going through the right progressions.
"He played very well," offensive coordinator Tom Rossley said. "He played within our system."
The coaching staff lauded one particular play, a short pass to his third read, William Henderson, for a first down. The eight-yard reception extended the game-winning overtime drive.
"We're going to take our shots," Head Coach Mike Sherman said. "If they're not there, we're going to check it down."
But Packers fans longing for the gunslinging quarterback who rifles deep passes through tight windows need not worry. By and large Favre will settle for the safety valve only when it's in his best option. Don't expect Favre to start throwing five yard passes on every play.
"He's not a checkdown quarterback," offensive coordinator Tom Rossley said. "He has never been a checkdown quarterback."
For now, however, he must throw his long balls with a heavy heart.
Back To School?
Wide receivers coach James Franklin and director of player development/offensive assistant Turner Gill have received interest from the college ranks.
Kansas State head coach Ron Prince coached with Franklin at James Madison University in 1997 and contacted Franklin. With Head Coach Mike Sherman's consent, Gill briefly has explored coaching vacancies.
Sherman was aware of interest from outside parties in both Franklin and Gill, and said it will not change the team's preparation for Monday's game against the Baltimore Ravens.
"It won't have any affect," Sherman said. "Both guys are professional."
Even if they departed, they would not do so until after the Packers completed their 2005 season.