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.
Brett Favre through his career
Brett Favre through his career
May 02, 1989 - Mississippi, Mississippi, USA - BRETT FAVRE at Southern Mississippi in 1989 (Photo by Sporting News/Sporting News via Getty Images)
2 Sep 1989: Quarterback Brett Favre of the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles looks to pass from the pocket during the Golden Eagles 30-26 victory over the Florida State Seminoles at Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Mandatory Credit: Allen S
Quarterback Brett Favre and head coach Jerry Glanville of the Atlanta Falcons. (Photo by Perry McIntyre/Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 20: Quarterback Brett Favre #4 of the Green Bay Packers stands in the huddle against the Cincinnati Bengals at Lambeau Field on September 20, 1992 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Bengals 24-23 on a Favre touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. (Photo by James Biever /Getty Images)
Quarterback Brett Favre of the Green Bay Packers looks on from the sideline in a 1999 game. ?James Biever (Photo by James V. Biever/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre (4) celebrates a touchdown pass during a 30-20 loss to the Detroit Lions on January 2, 1994, at the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan. (Photo by James V. Biever/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND - NOVEMBER 19: Quarterback Brett Favre #4 of the Green Bay Packers laughs as he holds the ball during an NFL game against the Cleveland Browns on November 19, 1995 at Municipal Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. The Packers won 31-20. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
4 Jan 1997: Quarterback Brett Favre of the Green Bay Packers celebrates with teammates during a playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers won the game, 35-14. Mandatory Credit: Brian Bahr /Allspo
GREEN BAY, UNITED STATES: NFL season MVP Brett Favre, quarterback of the Green Bay Packers throws a pass 04 January during the first half of their NFC Divisional Playoff game at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo credit should read JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images)
27 Jan 1997: Brett Favre of the Green Bay Packers in a press conference after the Packs' 35-21 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI at the Superdome in New Orleans, LA. (Photo by Sporting News/Sporting News via Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 26: Brett Favre #4 of the Green Bay Packers looks to pass against the New England Patriots during Super Bowl XXXI January 26, 1997 at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana . The Packers won the game 35-21. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, WI - OCTOBER 25: Brett Favre #4 of the Green Bay Packers looks on against the Baltimore Ravens at Lambeau Field on October 25, 1998 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Ravens 28-10. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 10: Quarterback Brett Favre #4 of the Green Bay Packers passes against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on September 10, 2000 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
4 Nov 2001 : Brett Favre #4 of the Green Bay Packers in action against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the game at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers won 21-20. DIGITAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit: Elsa/Allsport
GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 22: Brett Favre #4 of the Green Bay Packers waves to the crowd against the Buffalo Bills during the game at Lambeau Field on December 22, 2002 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Bills 10-0. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, WI, DECEMBER 28, 2003 - Green Bay Packers Brett Favre celebrates winning of the game against Denver Broncos at Lambeau Field on Sunday. Packers won 31-3. (THE DENVER POST PHOTO BY HYOUNG CHANG) (Photo By Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 31: Brett Favre #4 of the Green Bay Packers thows a pass against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field on October 31, 2004 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 03: Brett Favre #4 of the Green Bay Packers calls a play during the game with the Carolina Panthers on October 3, 2005 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Panthers won 32-29. (Photo By Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, WI - MAY 5: Green Bay Packers' Brett Favre (R) hands off to a teammate during practice at the first mini camp at the Don Hutson Center on May 5, 2006 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images)
Packers fans show their respect for their quarterabck Brett Favre in a 21 to 35 preseason win for the Green Bay Packers against the Tennessee Titans on September 1, 2006 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by James V. Biever/Getty Images)
SEATTLE - NOVEMBER 27: Quarterback Brett Favre #4 of the Green Bay Packers walks off the field against the Seattle Seahawks on November 27, 2006 at Qwest Field in Seattle Washington. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 17: Brett Favre #4 of the Green Bay Packers prepares to take the field against the Detroit Lions on December 17, 2006 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Sporting News and Rogers Photo Archive via Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre sports a huge smile after defeating the Packers' arch enemy , during action against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago Il, December 31,2006. (Photo by Don Lansu/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 16: NFL athlete Brett Favre accepts an award for record breaker onstage at the 2008 ESPY Awards held at NOKIA Theatre L.A. LIVE on July 16, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. The 2008 ESPYs will air on Sunday, July 20 at 9PM ET on ESPN. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - AUGUST 08: New York Jets Quarterback Brett Favre(R) and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (L) pose for a photo during a press conference to Welcome Brett Favre to New York at City Hall on August 8, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 14: Brett Favre signals a penalty on the Patriots in the 2nd half of the Jets 34-31 win., New York Jets against the New England Patriots. (Photo by Ron Antonelli/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH - OCTOBER 25: Brett Favre #4 of the Minnesota Vikings drops back to pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on October 25, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers defeated the Vikings 27-17. (Photo by Rob Tringali/Sportschrome/Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 3779 -- Pictured: (l-r) NFL football quarterback Brett Favre during an interview with host Jay Leno on March 4, 2010 (Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 10: Brett Farve visits FOX Business Network at FOX Studios on February 10, 2015 in New York, United States. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, WI - NOVEMBER 26: Brett Favre, former Green Bay Packers quarterback, speaks during the retirement ceremony for his #4 jersey at Lambeau Field on November 26, 2015 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Kena Krutsinger/Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, WI - NOVEMBER 26: Fans hold up Packer flags with the number 4 for the Brett Favre during the game between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on November 26, 2015 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
Brett Favre, former quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, smiles during a Bloomberg Radio interview in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Friday, Feb. 5, 2016. Favre discussed Super Bowl 50 and competing with country singer Tim McGraw to see who can get the most Sqor followers. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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“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.