In an interview for Sports Illustrated columnist Peter King’s farewell Monday Morning Quarterback column, retired NFL quarterback Brett Favre spoke freely about his ingestion of 14 Vicodin pills at once, along with his three stints in rehab.
King began his swansong with a list of thank yous, much in the spirit of a Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon segment. When he got to Favre he wrote, “Thank you, Brett Favre, for being the most compelling person I’ve covered in my 29 years here.”
He went on to recall meeting Farve in 1995 and spending three evenings one week at his house.
“So… what I found interesting was his tirelessness. I’d be there at 10, 10:30 at night, and I’d be nodding off after a long day, and he was buzzing. Turns out a few months later we knew the reason for the buzzing. He spent 72 days in a drug clinic in Kansas City to get off Vicodin.”
“In 1996, on a Wednesday night, Brett Favre told me, and only me, the story of why he was headed into rehab the next day in Kansas,” King wrote. “It was ugly and involved a seizure on an operating table and scarfing down more than a dozen pills at the ESPYs, and so much regret and sadness. Problem was, I had no outlet for the story of the year. No website. No TV. No radio show. So I had to wait. My story would not be out for seven full days, until the next issue of the magazine hit the stands the following Wednesday, and then in mailboxes Thursday and Friday. Amazing thing is, it held. The story hit like a firecracker, particularly in Wisconsin, with the ugly details of Favre’s addiction.”
He goes on to write that if this had happened 20 years later, he would have written the story live and it would have been all over the media within 12 to 24 hours.
According to People, Favre spoke with King on the phone recently and the retired QB recalled that week in 1995.
“Oh, I remember that week. 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.'”
Vicodin is the brand name of a prescription opioid pain medication, used to relieve moderate-to-severe pain. The downside is it can be over-prescribed and is addictive. Abuse of Vicodin is part of the opioid crisis in America, which the Trump Administration is taking action to combat. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 115 people in the United States die each day after overdosing on opioids.
While the 72-day stay in Kansas City is publicly known, Favre only now reveals he previously had two additional rehab stopovers, in Rayville, Louisiana. He was encouraged by his fiancé, Deanna Tynes (whom he later married), and his agent, Bus Cook, to check himself in.
While he made progress with his first attempt, he began binge drinking afterward. Favre recalls fighting with his caretakers, who told him alcohol was a gateway drug. He didn’t believe it at the time, but now feels they were right.
His three rehab stints were for a combination of both pills and alcohol. Favre’s final rehab stay was in 1998.
Favre spent the majority of his career with the Green Bay Packers. He’s a 20-year veteran of professional football and was the first NFL quarterback to pass for 500 touchdowns, throw for 70,000 yards, complete 6,000 passes, and attempt 10,000 passes.