HAPPY ENDING

December 29, 1997

I'll never forget Brett Favre's eyes that night--Super Bowl
night, two hours after the Green Bay Packers had bashed the New
England Patriots in New Orleans. I sat with him on a luggage
cart in, of all places, a stairwell of The Fairmont Hotel. The
whites of his eyes were perfectly white, as if they had been
floating in Visine for a week, not a web of crisscrossing red
lines as you would have expected considering everything he had
been through in the past year. During the off-season he had
spent 61/2 weeks in a Kansas rehab center getting weaned off
painkillers; and his brother Scott, while driving drunk, had had
a car wreck that killed his and Brett's best friend. Then Favre
had played through the regular season and playoffs with his
usual abandon while taking nothing stronger than ibuprofen; and
in the week leading up to the biggest game of his life he had
had dry heaves because of a 101[degree] fever and a bad case of
nerves.

Now Favre had ducked into the only quiet place in New Orleans at
the time--the stairwell--to escape the mania of the Packers'
Super Bowl party and to recount the story of this day and this
season. He looked and sounded fresh, as if he could have played
another game in five minutes, as if he never wanted his
nightmare-turned-dream of a year to end.

"Amazing day," he began. "I was real nervous, as nervous as I'd
been since fifth grade when I first played. I was scared I'd do
something stupid or not be patient. But I knew if the Patriots
gambled early and gave me something, I'd take it. Second play,
we call 322 Y Stick, a safe quick-out to [tight end Mark]
Chmura, but the Patriots are coming with a blitz, bringing both
safeties up near the line. I can't believe it. Sending an
all-out blitz so early? So I check off to 74 Razor, which
basically sends the receiver to my left--that was Andre
Rison--on a straight post. They left the middle of the field
wide open, and there was no question I was going for it all.

"Funny thing. I'm sitting in my room watching the channel that
shows continuous Super Bowl highlights this morning and on comes
the San Francisco-Denver game [Super Bowl XXIV]. In that game I
see Joe Montana audible a play, which was basically the same
play as our 74 Razor, and it goes for a touchdown. I said to
myself, Man, it'd be nice to find myself in that position just
once in my career. Then New England does it right away--today!
It felt like my first touchdown pass in football; it was so
exciting."

A busboy walked by, doing a triple-take at the sight of the NFL
MVP chatting in a stairwell. "Through everything, I really
believed I'd be here today," Favre said. "My best friend's gone
forever. Trouble never seems to be very far away. The future
won't be all rosy, but they can't take this away from me."

COLOR PHOTO: PHOTOGRAPH BY PETER READ MILLER [Brett Favre celebrating with fans]

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)