Friday, November 1, 2013
Around the Horns: Favre and memory loss
By Ben Goessling
Welcome to Around the Horns, our daily look at what's happening on the Vikings beat:
Many Vikings fans will remember Brett Favre's final plays with the team as part of the coda to the team's macabre 2010 season. It was at the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium in December -- the Vikings were playing the Chicago Bears there after the Metrodome roof had collapsed -- and the field was not equipped with a heating system. On a cold night in Minneapolis, the surface "was like concrete," Favre said.
Favre hit his head on the turf and sustained a concussion that night, and it finally pushed him to do what he'd been unable to do for three seasons: walk definitively into retirement.
"As I was getting to the sidelines, I thought, 'Now if there was ever a time where the writing is on the wall, this is it,'" Favre recalled in an interview earlier this month with Sportstalk 570 Powered by ESPN in Washington this month. "[I] went in, took a shower, got some hot cocoa, got a hot dog and said, 'That's it.'"
In the interview, recounted here in this piece by ESPN's Johnette Howard, Favre admitted he is already experiencing memory loss at age 44, and suspects the many concussions he sustained during his legendary 20-year career. As many players as have come forward with chilling revelations about the physical toll of football, I'm not sure too many players can do it more effectively than Favre.
He built his reputation, more than anything, on being there every week, for 321 consecutive starts (including playoff games). He played through broken thumbs, sprained knees, dislocated shoulders and even concussions. During a 2004 game against the New York Giants, he sneaked back onto the field after sustaining a concussion and was celebrated for throwing a touchdown pass before leaving for good. At the time, no one was thinking -- no one knew -- what it was costing Favre.
He battled an addiction to painkillers in the 1990s with the Packers, all in the name of staying on the field. Eventually, he signed with the Vikings in part to prove to his former team they had moved on from him too early. That move made for great theater, but it cast a wedge between Favre and Packers fans that's just now starting to dissolve.
Most Vikings fans probably don't care much about when Favre gets his number retired in Green Bay, or when he is fully reconciled with the team for whom he played for 16 seasons. But what if the Packers wait another five years to bring Favre back, and he can't remember significant parts of his career?
That would be a sad footnote to his career, and a chilling testament to the toll that his 20-year career as the NFL's ultimate tough guy ended up costing Favre.