Hall of Fame QB Brett Favre opens up about addiction during NFL career

By The Sports Xchange  |  May 21, 2018 at 1:47 PM
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Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre was known to have used painkillers during his career.

That, in itself, is not breaking news.

Favre, however, had such an issue with painkillers and alcohol that he ventured to rehab on three occasions, he revealed to Peter King of Sports Illustrated in the latter's final Monday Morning Quarterback column.

King publicly thanked numerous players, personnel, etc. during his final column. Upon speaking with Favre, the three-time NFL Most Valuable Player (1995-97) and 11-time Pro Bowl selection opened up to King about his trips to rehab.

The writer recalled spending a week with the Green Bay Packers star for a cover story, including hanging out at Favre's house and noting the quarterback's "tirelessness."

Favre, as it turned out, was ratcheted up on Vicodin -- and playing at an MVP level to boot.

"Oh, I remember that week," Favre told King on the phone. "You thought, 'Man, this guy's high on life.' You didn't know there was a reason for it. It is really amazing, as I think back, how well I played that year.

"That was an MVP year for me. But that year, when I woke up in the morning, my first thought was, 'I gotta get more pills.' I took 14 Vicodin, yes, one time. I was getting an hour or two of sleep many nights. Maybe 30 minutes of quality sleep. I was the MVP on a pain-pill buzz.

"The crazy thing was, I'm not a night owl. Without pills I'd fall asleep at 9:30. But with pills, I could get so much done, I just figured, 'This is awesome.' Little did I know [fiancee and now wife] Deanna would be finding some of my pills and when she did, she'd flush them down the toilet."

Favre revealed that he spent 72 days in Kansas City in a bid to work his way past Vicodin. He also said he ventured to a treatment center in Louisiana prior to that for 28 days.

"I actually went to rehab three times. I saw the most successful, smart people -- doctors, professional people -- lose it all, ruin their lives. A year or two before you saw me, I went to a place in Rayville, La., just outside Monroe. It was pills then too," Favre told King.

"Deanna and [agent] Bus [Cook] talked me into it. I didn't think I had a problem, but they talked me into it. I went for 28 days. When I got out, I was able to control myself for a while. I wouldn't take anything for a day or two, and I wouldn't drink.

"But I was a binge drinker. When I drank, I drank to excess. So when I went in the second time, to the place in Kansas, I remember vividly fighting them in there. They said drinking was the gateway drug for me, and they were right, absolutely right, but I wouldn't admit it. I will never forget one of the nurses. I had it all figured out. I fought with this nurse all the time. I would not admit the drinking problem. At the end she said to me, 'You'll be back.'"

Favre returned to the Kansas City rehab center to deal "strictly" with drinking.

"I was back. 1998. Guess who was waiting there when I walked in -- that same nurse. This time it was strictly for drinking," Favre said. "I didn't go back to the pills. I admitted my problem, I was in there 28 days, and it worked.

"When I got out, the toughest thing was the first three months, because I had to change my thought process. When I played golf before, I realized the only reason I wanted to play was to drink. After a while, instead of thinking, 'How many beers can we drink in 18 holes,' I fell into a pattern of what could I do to get good at golf. I realized with each passing day I really didn't like drinking."

Favre, who also played with the New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings, retired in 2010 as the NFL's all-time leading passer with 6,300 completions, 10,169 attempts, 71,838 yards and 508 touchdowns.

He established playoff records for attempts (791), completions (481), yards (5,855) and consecutive games with a touchdown pass (20).

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