Grieving Favre turns to football

The quarterback returns to the practice field after the death of his wife's stepfather.

Unfortunately for Brett Favre, he's been here before.

The Green Bay Packers quarterback returned to the practice field after missing five workouts while mourning the loss of wife Deanna's stepfather, the 56-year-old Rocky Byrd, who died Saturday of a heart attack.

In December 2003, Favre's father, Irv, died. Famously, Favre found refuge on the field by torching the Oakland Raiders in a record-setting, emotion-filled performance. He also played through Deanna's ordeal with breast cancer.

Favre, meeting with reporters on Thursday, said the loss of Byrd was similar to losing his dad. In fact, Favre said, Byrd was such a trusted confidant that he turned to him to talk about subjects he wouldn't even touch with Irv.

"Rocky, a lot like my dad, was a simple man. We had a lot of great memories," Favre said during a midday press conference.

On Thursday, Favre was happy to find refuge back on the practice field. He looked sharp during the night practice, all things considered, especially during a blitz period in which he completed 4-of-7 passes, with one drop marring those stats.

"As I was flying back up ... as much as any other time in my career, I was really, I shouldn't say excited, but I was ready to get back here and get on with football," said Favre, who went to Lambeau Field on Wednesday night to study film but was given Thursday morning's practice off. "If I wasn't playing, retired, and was at home, it would be much more difficult to be in that environment."

"I'm very thankful to have football," he added, "because it is an extended family, and I include the fans in that, as well. It gives, at least for me, something to direct my focus to."

Inevitably, Favre was asked for his thoughts on the team. Surrounded by what appears to be a lesser supporting cast than a year ago — no Ahman Green or William Henderson, and only Donald Driver as a proven target — Favre sounded cautiously — very cautiously — optimistic.

"We know what Donald Driver gives us, but outside of that, I really don't know. I do see potential," Favre said. "But, as I told you guys last year, there's a lot of talent but I said we were very inexperienced. We're probably more inexperienced this year. I don't know, I haven't done the math."

With such a young cast of characters around him, Favre is hopeful he'll play more this preseason than he has in years past.

"We have a short window to gain a lot of chemistry and trust, which we don't have right now," he said.

Lawrence is a regular contributor to Send comments to

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