After the seizure had ended and he had come to his senses, Favre looked into a sea of concerned medical faces and saw Packers associate team physician John Gray. “You’ve just suffered a seizure, Brett,” Gray told him. “People can die from those.” Favre’s heart sank. Upon hearing from doctors in the room that his dependence on painkillers might have contributed to the seizure, he thought, I’ve got to stop the pills, I’ve just got to.
Last season Favre went on such a wild ride with the prescription drug Vicodin, a narcotic-analgesic painkiller, that Tynes feared for his life. He scavenged pills from teammates. At least once he took 13 tablets in a night. But on Tuesday of last week, during his final telephone call before entering the Menninger Clinic, a rehabilitation center in Topeka, Kansas [which moved to Florida in 2003], to treat his dependency (and also to evaluate his occasional heavy drinking), Favre told SI that he hadn’t taken Vicodin since the seizure. “I quit cold turkey,” he said, “and I entered the NFL substance-abuse program voluntarily. I don’t want a pill now, but I want to go into a rehab center because I want to make sure I’m totally clean.
Tynes wiped her eyes. She took a deep breath. She sniffled a few times. “You know,” she said, “he’s changed already. He talks to me again. He takes Brittany and me out. He pays attention to us. A few days ago he hugged me and he thanked me for everything I’ve done, and he said some really nice things to me.”
She wiped her eyes again. “I said, ‘I can’t believe it. The old Brett’s back!'” Time will tell. The true test will start in September.
Time has shown the answer, after struggles for several years, as Brett Favre has continued his amazing NFL career with great success.
After doctors found severe liver damage in 1996, Brett agreed to enter rehab, and was able to kick his addiction. He and Deanna were married several months later and welcomed daughter Breleigh in 1999, but his problems with substance abuse had not ended. By 1999, Brett had returned to heavy partying, and was abusing alcohol. Deanna contacted a divorce attorney, which helped scare her husband into quitting drinking entirely, according to Deanna.
The 1990s tested their relationship, but Deanna ultimately appreciated that Brett chose to seek help. “He was battling a disease,” she says. “I was trying to support him, and when he started making the right choices by getting the help he needed, that made a difference.”
Life had stabilized for the Favres by 2003: Brett was sober and a Super Bowl-winning icon in Green Bay, and Brittany and Breleigh were healthy and happy. “We were at a good spot in our lives,” Deanna says.
Then, in December 2003, Brett’s father died in a car accident. The following October, Deanna’s 24-year-old brother Casey was killed when his all-terrain vehicle hit a patch of gravel and flipped. Casey had recently overcome his own drug problems, and his girlfriend was eight months pregnant when he died.
In her memoir, Deanna described the loss of her brother as the darkest time in her life, but the darkness would not pass quickly – just days after Casey’s funeral, Deanna was diagnosed with breast cancer at 35.