Favre Fights Through Emotional Weeks

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He's faced countless must-win situations, including two Super Bowls among 17 career playoff games.

But in at least one respect, no game in the 13-year career of Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre has been more emotionally-packed than the one two weeks ago, when the three-time NFL MVP suited up against the Oakland Raiders just over 24 hours after the sudden death of his father.

"I have to be honest," Favre said Wednesday, in only his second meeting with the media since losing his father to a heart attack. "I don't think I have ever been that nervous before in a game."

Leading up to kickoff, outsiders debated whether he would even attempt to participate. But in Favre's own mind there was no concern over if he should play.

The only thing Favre worried about was how he would perform.

"Because of the circumstances, I knew if I played and played okay, or played below average, (and) we win the game, (reporters) write, 'Look what he played under. Just the fact the guy played is amazing.'

"I didn't want that. I really didn't want it. More than anything I said, 'I want to play and play the game as if nothing is wrong. I can deal with family stuff when the game is over. It's not going to make a difference whether I go home Monday or I stay.'

"But I could hardly breathe in pregame. Not that I felt pressure from Oakland or it being a Monday night game -- that added to it -- but I wanted to play well for the team first, and I didn't want people to say, 'Hey, we understand.'"

In the end it was Favre's performance that was almost beyond comprehension. He completed 22 of 33 passes for 399 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions.

It was by far the most impressive performance of Favre's 2003 season, if not his entire career.

"I never expected that," Favre said. "I don't think anyone expected it. If you did, I wish you would have told me.

"That was amazing, but it was a team effort. You saw some of the passes I threw. At some point I just said, 'The hell with it, I'm throwing it up because they ain't touching it.' And they didn't."

Along with much of the country, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck watched Favre's Monday night primetime performance on TV.

An understudy in Green Bay from 1998-2000, Hasselbeck said one of the things he learned from Favre over those years was the importance for both passion and composure at the quarterback position. But given the circumstances, even Hasselbeck was surprised at Favre's display in Oakland.

"I've been around him before big games and before games that don't matter and he's got such a great level head about him," Hasselbeck said this week. "But who could imagine a situation like that? I certainly couldn't.

"And I just can't imagine what it was like for him before the game. He probably pulled a Frank Winters and was throwing up before the game, I'm not sure.

"It was one of those situations where you really felt bad for him, and then to see him go out and play so well, to have a career game like that, I think everyone was happy for him."

The aftermath of that game has been bittersweet for Favre.

Last weekend the Packers defeated the Denver Broncos 31-3, got some help from the Arizona Cardinals and clinched their second straight NFC North Championship.

But before that, Favre had to attend his father's funeral, Christmas Eve, and now he continues to come to terms with the loss.

"I was exhausted mentally and physically last week," Favre said. "But I feel much better now.

"If I can focus on the Monday night game against Oakland, I can focus on any game. At times in that game I drifted off a little bit, but was still able to function.

"This is what you play for: a chance to go to the Super Bowl. I don't just want to be here, I want to be here and help this team."

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