Ryan Longwell has been with Brett Favre through a lot of peaks and valleys in their careers. Right now may be one of the most difficult times for Favre.
Besides a stress fracture in his left ankle and an avulsion fracture in his left heel, Favre may be just as beat up emotionally with allegations that he sent inappropriate photos of himself to former New York Jets employee Jenn Sterger when both were employed by the Jets in 2008. The NFL has been investigating the allegations, and if Favre is found to have violated the NFL's personal conduct policy, a fine or suspension could be imposed.
"I have a lot of respect for the guy and what he's been through in his career. We certainly had a lot of different conversations from those we've had in the past in the last month, but that's what friends are for," Longwell said. "There's a lot of people that want to throw him on the grill and cook him when anything is come out and said about him or anything bad happens to him. A true friend is there through thick and thin and I think he's realized how important that is."
Longwell was there walking off Lambeau Field last year after Favre beat his former team for the first time. He was also there at Lambeau Field Sunday night when Favre lost to his former Green Bay Packers teammates for the first time and suffered two fractures in his lower left leg.
Favre became a hero to legions of Packers fans during his 16 years with the organization, but since he left in 2008 – and especially since joining the Vikings in 2009 – he has endured the criticisms of many in Green Bay and surrounding areas. Last year, he arrived to signs calling him "Judas" and fans jeering. This year, the taunts centered on his more recent controversy. One fan wore an old Favre Packers jersey with the "4" crossed out and the nameplate replaced with "Sterger."
"I've just seen it forever. My nine years over here, people would take any little comment and you had your people that are totally supportive and people that take stuff and run with it," Longwell said. "It's the nature of the beast as well. Brett's a great quarterback and a great athlete, but he's an A-list superstar, his name. That kind of comes with the territory."
With his first loss to the Packers in hand, Favre hobbled to the post-game press conference and once again talked about how much the losses stick with him. Those words came after he sat in front of his locker for several minutes looking depressed and beaten down. A trip to the training room was sandwiched in before he gathered himself to address reporters.
Through it all – the allegations and emotions – Favre maintained a focus and a desire to win, Longwell said.
"He still wanted to win the game and still wanted to play well and put our best foot forward. Obviously there's a lot more things going on than just him coming back," Longwell said. "I think he has things in great perspective. As much as I would say that we wanted to win and needed to win, I think he's just in a different place this year – win, lose or draw. You just root for the guy and feel for the guy when things don't go his way and go our way."
It's unclear if Favre will be able to continue on with his NFL record streak of consecutive starts. He has 291 straight starts to date, and the Packers ironically could be the team that ends that streak. Favre reportedly saw Dr. James Andrews, the man who performed ankle surgery on the quarterback in May, on Tuesday as Favre examines the possibility of playing Sunday against the New England Patriots.
Longwell said Favre's focus on football has never waned.
"I think he's done a great job. He's been an asset in the locker room and to the team like he was last year," Longwell said. "I think he has really good perspective on it. I think he's in a really good place. He's had his close friends and family rally around him. I think, considering everything that's gone on, he's really in a good place."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Longwell: Friends helping Favre cope
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