Favre: She's a lot tougher than I am

Updated: October 27, 2004, 11:32 PM ET
Associated Press

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- More than ever, Brett Favre needs football as his escape.

Brett Favre
Favre

His wife, Deanna, is fighting breast cancer, the latest bad news for the star quarterback's family, which has dealt with two deaths in 11 months.

"I enjoy playing the game," the Packers quarterback said Wednesday. "It's a way to take my mind off of, at least for a brief moment, some of the things in my personal life."

There are many.

Favre lost his father, Irv, to a heart attack last December. Deanna's brother, Casey Tynes, 24, was killed three weeks ago in an all-terrain vehicle accident on Favre's property near his home in Mississippi. Deanna, 35, was diagnosed with cancer the following week and underwent a lumpectomy at Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

"Professional athletes are not immune from tragic circumstances and cancer," Favre said. "Athletes sometimes think we are. I've never found myself saying 'Why me?' or 'Why us?' It takes too much time and it doesn't matter anyway. Because it is what it is, and you deal with the best way possible and that's what we're trying to do."

Favre's wife found a lump during a self-exam, got it checked out right away and is expected to make a full recovery because it was detected early, he said. She needs months of chemotherapy and radiation treatments and will probably stay in Green Bay to get them.

"We're both doing a lot better, but initially I was doing a lot worse than she was," Favre said. "She's a lot tougher than I am, but she's hanging in there."

Favre, also 35, has dealt with a litany of health concerns himself this season: a dislocated shoulder, a concussion, a bruised leg and a sprained right hand a year after playing with a broken thumb on his throwing hand.

Through it all, Favre has kept playing -- and sparkling.

In his last two games, Favre has completed 48 of 67 passes for 515 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions in back-to-back routs of Detroit and Dallas. He extended his NFL quarterback record to 215 straight starts, including playoffs.

Favre said he doesn't consider himself a Superman.

"Sometimes life is difficult and at some point we all have to go through -- and have gone through -- some difficult situations, and I'm not the only person who's had to deal with them and rise to the occasion," Favre said. "So, I don't consider myself out of the ordinary."

What's his explanation for his superb play through such adversity?

"I have no idea. None whatsoever," he said. "I take tremendous pride in what I do, always have. And I think in times like this, maybe I even take more."

Many teammates and fans wonder if all these hardships will weigh on Favre and hasten his retirement.

Favre says no.

"Do I think about it? Sure. Especially during times like this, I think about it. But it seems like every time something happens people want to jump on the retirement bandwagon," Favre said. "And the more people ask me, the more I want to stick around just to stick it to 'em. But it will not, as I stand here before you today, it will not speed up the decision. Now a month from now, who knows?"

Favre missed practice the day they learned of the cancer, but he wasn't sure if he'd have to miss any time during her treatment.

"Whatever I have to do to support her and the kids, I'll do," he said. "Because football is very important, but it's not the most important thing. But the last two weeks, she's been like, 'Hey, you go out and play and do your deal.' I would expect her to say that. I'd say the same thing. But I also want to be there for her."

Coach Mike Sherman said he's not surprised Favre's performances have been so good even as he's facing such trying times.

"He is a very resilient person, but I've got to be honest with you, everything that he has gone through, his wife has gone through and I'm not so sure who's the toughest one in that family," Sherman said. "He clearly is tough. But she has been there in support of him in every situation that he's been involved in. She's been a part of that. She's the unsung hero in that relationship. She's every bit as much a hero as he is in that family."

Favre had hoped to keep the prognosis private but his mother, Bonita, told The Sun Herald of Gulfport, Miss., on Monday.

"First of all, it is a private deal, but after 14 years (in the NFL) I've gotten used to private things being public," Favre said. "But we deal with it the way we've dealt with everything: just accept it. Just like the news, you accept it and you deal with it in a positive way."


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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