Brett Favre #4 of the Minnesota Vikings warms up before their preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on August 22, 2010 in San Francisco, California.
Credit: Ezra Shaw / Getty Images
That afternoon I drive 70 miles south to Favre's hometown of Kiln. The locals know it as "The Kill." Katrina knocked trees down and tossed cars around in Hattiesburg, but down here it was as bad as New Orleans. Two dozen relatives took refuge at the Favres' place, and Brett had to rebuild his mother's house from the ground up. It's now been five years, but the storm's detritus remains. Five miles from the bayou, I drive by a small fishing boat in the middle of a farmer's field, surrounded by grazing goats.

It was a late spring day, and the oyster and shrimp men waited patiently for the Gulf oil spill to snuff out their livelihoods. There's a gas station where the side used to be painted with a big Packers helmet, but Favre's late-career meanderings meant that had to be replaced by smaller renderings of his multiple teams. Across the road is the Broke Spoke, a dark biker bar where the ceiling is decorated with the bras and panties of Packer fans who for more than a decade made the trip down to Favre's hometown bar. Big Dave, a ponytailed, bearded bartender with a cane and an episode of Cops blaring, remembers the year the Packers won the Super Bowl in New Orleans. Green Bay fans blocked the streets of Kiln for miles. "I'd make a thousand dollars in a night," says Dave. "I played for his daddy, too. A tough son-of-a-gun. Brett used to come in here with shorts, no shoes, and no money."

But times change. Last year the Broke Spoke divided the bar into Saints and Vikings sections, and the nearby Saints had more rooters. And that's okay with Favre. He's fine with the legend. "I love those guys," he says. "But I swear I may have been in the Broke Spoke three times."

Visitors are often directed to Hancock High, where a statue of Favre now stands. But that's not where Brett played. His high school years were spent eight miles back up the road at the old high school now deemed too small for that use. It's now a grammar school. The green grass of Favre's youth is yellow and weedy. But visiting the Favre statue at the new place isn't without value. Under the bronzed Favre is a particularly apt inscription from Vince Lombardi: The Good Lord gave you a body that can stand most anything. It's your mind you have to convince.