Peter King’s extensive “Monday Morning Quarterback” column, a weekly staple for untold NFL fans over the years, officially came to an end on Monday. King is leaving Sports Illustrated and the NFL-only site he created through the magazine, The MMQB, to focus on only television.
The last “Monday Morning Quarterback” missive is a series of thank-yous, to former editors and coaches and players, with one getting a longer note than others: Brett Favre.
Favre reveals battles with addiction
It’s been public knowledge that Favre did one stint in rehab for a Vicodin addiction, but as King spoke with the Hall of Famer in advance of writing his final column, Favre revealed he didn’t seek help just once. He went to rehab three times.
In 1995, the Green Bay Packers allowed King a week of behind-the-scenes access, and King found himself at Favre’s house three nights that week. Despite the long days he was putting in with the Packers, King found that at 10 or 10:30 p.m. Favre would still be wired. The Vicodin he was taking in large doses kept him buzzed.
“Oh, I remember that week,” Favre told King. “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 [fiancée and now wife] Deanna would be finding some of my pills and when she did, she’d flush them down the toilet.”
Not long after that season ended, Favre began a 72-day stint in a rehab facility in Kansas City. But that wasn’t the only time.
“I actually went to rehab three times,” Favre said. “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, Louisiana, just outside Monroe. It was pills then too. 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.’
“I was back. 1998. Guess who was waiting there when I walked in — that same nurse. This time it was strictly for drinking. 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 is content in retirement
Favre shared another memory with King, this one more positive. While in Alabama for a Bo Jackson charity bike ride, Favre stayed with retired Auburn coach Pat Dye, who was then 78 years old.
Dye showed him around his home, telling Favre stories; Favre saw the framed photos and trophies, but Dye pointed to the memorabilia and noted, “Here’s the stuff that really doesn’t matter.”
Favre got it.
“It hit me. Someday, if I’m lucky, I’m gonna be 78 years old, and the crowd’s not going to be cheering anymore. The roar of the stadium will be long gone,” he said. “Hopefully, like Pat, I’ll go out and plant a Japanese maple on my property and just live life. Talk to my family, my friends. That was a moment, with Pat, where I thought, ‘So that’s what it’s going to be like.’ And it’s good.”
King acknowledges mistakes
King owns up for two significant reporting mistakes he made: in 2015, when he confirmed the now-infamous report of ESPN’s Chris Mortensen that 11 of the 12 footballs the New England Patriots used in the AFC championship game were under the pounds-per-square-inch detailed in NFL rules, reports that took what came to be known as deflate-gate from a story to a scandal.
A year earlier, King reported that the NFL had seen the videotape of then-Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking out his fiancee in an elevator, citing a source he called “impeccable”; in fact, the league had not.
“Thank you, everyone else in the media and on talk radio and in social media who called me on my reporting mistakes on deflate-gate and on the Ray Rice story,” King wrote. “When we err in the media, we should be called on it, and we should admit our mistakes. When I talk to students, I often bring those up. I broke a trust you have in me. To this day, I’m chagrined over it.”
King recently told his former SI colleague Richard Deitsch that he offered his resignation to the company after the deflate-gate mistake; it wasn’t accepted.
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