Early in the 2000 film Unbreakable, David Dunn (Bruce Willis) sits on a hospital examining table and listens to the startling news that not only is he the sole survivor of a train wreck, but that he has emerged from the catastrophe without a single scratch.
It would be easy to dismiss the scene as just the stuff of movies, except that for so many football seasons, for so many games, for so many hits, that was Brett Favre. He was the man who could run into a train-wreck tackle and walk away unscathed. He was, in a word, unbreakable.
And then came October 20, 2002. Then came LaVar Arrington, untouched up the middle. Then came a twisting tackle and a popping sensation in Favre's leg. And then came a moment that Packers fans hadn't quite seen before.
Tossed to the turf, Favre didn't get up. At least not at first.
Suddenly the impossible had come true, like something out of a movie. Except unlike the M. Night Shyamalan film, Packers fans watched perplexed as their 'unbreakable' hero appeared suddenly mortal.
In that brief moment the question wasn't when he would be back, but if. It was a question Favre and his fans had never been faced with before.
"When I was falling, I knew I was in an awkward situation and I felt a pop on the left side of my knee," Favre recounted for the Green Bay media Wednesday. "The way I was bent, and as much pain (as there was), and hearing it pop, I thought -- honestly -- my leg was broken.
"I kind of reached down (to my knee), and as I stood up I wasn't sure if my leg was going to be dangling or what. So I got up and put some weight on it and said, 'okay, at least it's not broken.' But I knew something was wrong with my knee. It just didn't feel right.
"I knew at that point I couldn't go on. It was scary."
Favre hobbled toward the sideline knowing that the Packers' team physician, Dr. Patrick McKenzie, would soon ask him if he'd heard a 'pop.' Until then, Favre's answers to such questions had always been, 'no.' But that was about to change.
"That's all I could think about going across the field," Favre said. Well, that and seeing Packers GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman waving his arms for Favre to stay on the ground.
"I thought he cared about me and wanted me to stay down," Favre said with a sly grin. "He wanted Doug (Pederson) to get some warm-up throws.
"But ever since I was a little kid my dad said never lay on the field. I was trying my best to get off the field -- I wasn't going to lay there. As much as I wanted to stay in, I just knew there was a lot of pain in the knee, as well as it just felt loose, and that part of it scared me."
For just the fourth time in his professional career, which has included appearances in 166 consecutive regular season games and counting, injury prevented Favre from finishing a game he'd started.
On the sideline, McKenzie diagnosed Favre's injury as a sprain of his lateral collateral ligament (LCL) -- painful, significant, but not season or career threatening. An MRI confirmed the initial diagnosis the following day.
And then the amazing happened. Less than 24 hours after the injury, almost as suddenly as Favre's season had seemed in jeopardy, the three-time NFL MVP was considered a possibility to start in the team's next game, November 4, against the Miami Dolphins.
He'd walked away from a train wreck once again.
Of course Favre's participation against Miami is far from guaranteed. But in the path of the Packers' superhero this injury appears to be just another pesky comic book villain -- as eventually disposable as it was potentially terrible.
To many, Favre's tumble and his inconceivable quick return will only add to his image as an insuperable warrior. To others, it was a wakeup call, reminding how quickly the curtain could fall on Favre's epic career.
To Favre, it was neither. He dismissed the idea that he is anything more than human long ago.
"There've been times where -- just for a brief second -- I've almost felt invincible," Favre said. "But I'm very aware that at any point it can be taken away.
"Some people will say it's a wakeup call. But I've said all along that you're just a hit away."
Favre and the Packers hope that fateful hit never comes. Superman should be able to retire his cape only when he's ready.