One of the greatest football players of all time has just been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Brett Favre received his “gold jacket”, presented by his wife Deanna, at Saturday's induction ceremony in Canton, Ohio.
In the world of sports, proudly proclaiming your faith in Jesus Christ certainly stands out. Favre is clearly comfortable with doing so.
“Deanna is the best teammate I’ve ever had…She has been by my side throughout this journey and I’m so excited that she gets to play such an important role for me.” The high school sweethearts have endured several trials that they say only strengthened their reliance on God. Deanna found herself pregnant at 19 as Favre was the starting quarterback at Southern Mississippi University. Friends pressured her to abort. While they hadn't planned on being parents at that point, Deanna said, “there was no way I could destroy an innocent life.”
Brett and Deanna credit their Catholic faith as the deciding factor in their deciding against an abortion. She called having premarital sex “a bad choice”, and pointed out that for every choice “there’s a consequence.” Their first child, Brittany, was born, and they went on to marry in 1996.
Favre conquered painkiller and alcohol problems, and for several years, seemed to have it all. Along with his Green Bay Packers success, including three Super Bowl MVP three times along with the Super Bowl, the Favre family continued to attend Mass either in Green Bay or their home town in Mississippi. But in 2003, their world came crashing down. A day before playing against the Oakland Raiders, Favre was notified of his beloved father's death. His father had a been a pillar of support for Brett, and he had long talked about one day presenting his son with the Hall of Fame award. Brett propelled his grief that day onto the field, passing for 399 yards and 4 touchdowns for a 41-7 victory.
Within a year Brett's brother-in-law died in a tragic ATV accident, his mother's home was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, and Deanna was diagnosed with breast cancer. A roller coaster of emotions and chaos ensued for the family. Deanna stood firm in her faith: "I just feel like, with faith, it helps me see the good in everything. … I thank God all of the time that I have faith because I don’t understand what people would do without faith.” She spoke of her mother raising her Catholic. “She was a huge influence. We were brought up Catholic and we’re still strong Catholics.”
After months of chemotherapy, Deanna was cancer-free and began providing financial assistance to breast cancer patients through the family's foundation, Favre4Hope. Together the foundation has funded $8 million to charitable organizations since 1995. She also prompted a new pink Pray for a Cure Bible, published to promote breast cancer awareness. Her favorite Bible verse, Romans 8:28, is highlighted in it and has been a motivating force in the Favre's perseverance: “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.”
In his unusually long acceptance speech before his daughters, son-in-law and two grandsons, Favre was emotional and grateful. “Believe me, I'm blessed. I'm an extremely blessed man. I look at my family ... what a lucky man, to play a game that I love so much for 20 years, to have all of the wonderful things happen, what a blessing. ... Love them while you can. They grow up quickly.” He spoke of his father who taught him that no player was ever more important than the team. “I would not be here before you today without my father. There's no doubt, whatsoever.”
Their hometown pastor, Fr. Tommy Conway says, “I think Deanna has shaped Brett Favre into the man he is today. I give her an awful lot of credit. They have faced adversity in their lives and they are both better people for it.”