"It's destiny," he was told by Deanna, the wife who has stood by his side through rehab, retirements, and a Gothic number of family tragedies, including her own battle with breast cancer. "You're going to make it to the Super Bowl."
And she was almost right. Only one game to go before the Super Bowl. They just had to get past the Saints in the Superdome, two hours from Hattiesburg. It's a ragged game – fumbles, interceptions, and Favre getting the tar kicked out of him. Some hits are legal, some are WWF style. His left ankle is twisted; his right thigh is swelling up like an overripe melon.
"I didn't have a side I could limp on," says Favre.
But it's in his hands at the end. Saints 38-yard line with 19 seconds to go. Game is tied. Third down. He just needs maybe five yards, and a field goal will win it. Something safe. The ball is snapped. He stumbles more than scrambles to the right. Maybe he can run for the five yards, maybe there's a safe pass to the halfback. Everyone knows that's not going to happen. He throws the ball across his body, across the field, toward Sidney Rice.
"The previous week against the Cowboys, we did the same exact play to Rice," says Favre. He adds a relevant detail. "We were up about 25 at the time, so it was different. He came back to me on a broken play, and we got 20 yards. This time, when I let it go, I'm thinking he's going to come back to me. As he drifted farther and farther away, I could see the corner come in from the other side, and I'm thinking, Oh, shit."
The ball is intercepted, the second time in three seasons that Favre tossed a year-killing interception in the NFC Championship Game.
"As a player you've got to pull the trigger," he says. "You can't say, Well, is he going to do what I think he's going to do? He wasn't wrong, and in some ways, I wasn't either."
Most everyone disagrees with that assessment. Broadcasters and media pooh-bahs proclaim the interception unforgivable and predestined, part of Favre's pathology. Some say it's the Football Gods settling the score for his yearly tease.
"I don't give a shit about that," claims Favre. "They were the same people who said I'd suck all season. I don't worry about that. A lot of plays go into a game; that was just one of them."
But on another day, apropos of nothing in particular, Brett Favre is on his farm and says, "Sometimes I say to myself, An interception? A whole year of making great decisions and it ends on an interception? You have got to be kidding me."