A model of toughness in an NFL career in which he started 297 straight games, future Hall-of-Fame quarterback Brett Favre now worries about all those hits.
“I’ve talked to several doctors, asking them about symptoms, and one of them is not being able to finish a sentence,’’ Favre told Matt Lauer in a TODAY exclusive interview that aired Monday. “Or not remembering a word — a specific word. I’ve noticed lately, if there’s any symptom at all, that one being the one that shows the most.’’
Favre also spoke about gaps in his memory.
"I think to me the wake-up call was (wife) Deanna and I were talking recently, and she was talking about Breleigh, our youngest, playing soccer. I've pretty much made every game that she's ever played (in) basketball, volleyball. She played softball one year, she played basketball a couple years. As I find out, she played soccer. I don't remember her playing soccer. She played right over here, and that was probably where my first inclination that something ain't right."
Lauer asked if these issues were as a result of the hits Favre took during his 20-year career spent primarily with the Green Bay Packers — in which he was sacked 525 times, more than any quarterback in NFL history.
“I can’t say for certain,’’ Favre said. “I would assume so, and I think most people would assume. But I’ve got to believe that after 20 years, and if you go back, I played four years in college and played every game and then in high school, the toll has got to be pretty high.”
Favre is now the offensive coordinator at Oak Grove High School in Hattiesburg, Miss., working for free.
Favre doesn't have a son, but if he did, he told Lauer, "I would be real leery of him playing" football. "In some respects, I'm almost glad I don't have a son because of the pressures he would face. Also the physical toll that it could possibly take on him, not to mention if he never made it, he's gonna be a failure in everyone's eyes. But more the physical toll that it could take.
“In all honesty, I would have a hard time just throwing him out there.”
Favre is speaking out about concussions and the damage they can cause, but also wants to keep the game intact.
“Don't want to knock football at all," he said. "I think that's unfair. I knew what I was getting into. To think that I could help maybe ease maybe some of the potential trauma, but still keep the integrity of the game, I’m willing to do that.”
Favre expressed surprise at the bullying scandal involving Miami Dolphins offensive linemen Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin.
"My initial reaction was, 'You gotta be kidding me,''' Favre said. "Pro football — bullying? It's the toughest sport, most violent, not to mention you're men, some older than others. So it's not like a little 12-year-old on the playground. All I'm saying is my initial reaction was, 'A grown man that's 320 pounds is getting bullied?'
“I never thought I would see it. I’m not saying it’s not possible. I’m not saying it didn’t happen. I don’t know. There’s a lot of guys getting picked on (in the locker room). Some handle it well, some don’t handle it as well. I’m not saying it’s right, and from a locker room sense or from a team sense, I’m not saying it’s wrong. It’s just the way it is.”
Favre is hoping his perspective can teach a lesson to his players at Oak Grove.
“I don’t want to be remembered as a football player,’’ he said. “As each day goes by and each year goes by, I realize what’s most important. I can honestly sit here and say that there’s two people in my life that without them, I wouldn’t be sitting here today. I probably would be dead. That’s Jesus Christ and Deanna, my wife.
“So as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized what’s most important. Am I perfect? No, but I want to get that across to these kids. You enjoy it. It’s a small window in your life. I’ve thought, ‘Man, this is going to go on forever.’ Well, it doesn’t.”