A Tribute to Brett Favre - Overcoming Adversity

Here's an article from ESPN on Brett Favre - my idol when it comes to football. Never in the NFL (or maybe all of sports) has there been anyone better, tougher or played at a higher level...

Sometimes, when the sky is falling in pieces all around you, all you can do is laugh.
A week ago, Brett Favre was needling his mother, Bonita, who was in the middle of a book tour to publicize her New York Times best-seller "Favre."
"You're not a spring chicken anymore," the Green Bay Packers quarterback told her.
"You sound like I sounded some years back, talking to you," she responded.
"Well, if that's the case," the son told his mother, "then you won't listen to me like I didn't listen to you -- so we're even."
One day later, Bonita was flat on her back in a Madison, Wis., hospital complaining of severe stomach pains. And with that piece of bad luck -- food poisoning was ultimately the diagnosis -- her streak of consecutive book signings was stopped at seven. Bonita sat out the signings scheduled for La Crosse on Thursday and Green Bay on Saturday.
Her publicist, Zoe Feigenbaum, insisted she would continue this week.
"She's a tough one," Feigenbaum observed. "She wants to keep going.
"She's a Favre."
In his 13th season with the Packers, Brett Lorenzo Favre has become synonymous with triumphing amid adversity. In sport, courage and heroism are often overstated. But the depths of the adversity that has visited Favre's life and the level of performance with which he has responded is, upon inspection, quite breathtaking.
Favre leaves the field with his wife Deanna one day after his father passed.In the last 11 months, Favre has lost his father, Irv, to a heart attack; lost his brother-in-law, Casey Tynes, in an all-terrain vehicle crash on his estate in Mississippi; and learned that his wife, Deanna, had breast cancer. Favre has played through a series of injuries this season -- concussion, bruised hamstring, sprained hand, sprained thumb -- but on Monday night he will step on Lambeau Field against the St. Louis Rams and start his 200th consecutive game, an amazing NFL record he continues to push further and further out of reach. By any measure, Favre's success under duress surpasses all understanding.
How does he consistently rise to these great occasions with such poise and precision?
Last week, Favre sat down for an introspective interview with ESPN's Suzy Kolber for an NFL Countdown feature.
"I wish I had an answer," Favre told Kolber. "I don't know. The most talented players don't always succeed. It's more what's inside. So much of a professional athlete's success depends not necessarily how you deal with good, but how you deal with the bad.
"It was kind of a wake-up call. When it hits you directly, it makes you realize how precious life is. There was a time when I thought football was the most important. Football will be over at some point -- the family goes on.
"When you lose someone, or when there are setbacks, it kind of puts it in perspective. When you lose a family member or something tragic happens, that stays with you forever. You never get over it."
Favre is 35, already graying gracefully around the temples. His place in football history is more than secure. He's led his team to a Super Bowl victory and is ranked among the top five in four major passing categories: touchdowns, attempts, completions and yards. He has thrown for 365 touchdowns, meaning only Dan Marino (420) has more. Think of all the territory that takes in; Favre has seen his passes reach the end zone safely more times than Elway, Unitas, Montana's and so many other great quarterbacks.
But it isn't the quantity he producers year after year, it is the sterling quality of his numbers when things are less than perfect. Some of his finest seasons came when he was, by his own admission, drinking too much. He won the first of three NFL MVP awards while he was addicted to painkillers in 1995. There have been memorable contests when Favre entered games listed as questionable with formidable injuries.
"You just never know what the next day is going to bring," Favre told Kolber. "That goes for football, goes for off the field, and I gave up a long time ago trying to predict the future and trying to deal with things I couldn't deal with. There is only so much I can do. You know, the old saying, when it rains, it pours. When it comes, it comes in bunches. It seems that way in my case.
"I have been asked the question, 'How do you focus on football with everything else going on?' I would think it's much easier. It enables you to escape for a brief period of time to kind of get away. You have to go back and deal with it, but it's a good escape."

The most talented players don't always succeed. It's more what's inside. So much of a professional athlete's success depends not necessarily how you deal with good, but how you deal with the bad. ”
—Brett Favre
Last Dec. 21, Irv Favre, 58, died of a heart attack while driving near his home. The Packers were 8-6 and competing fiercely for a playoff berth. Twenty-six hours later, under the bright lights of national television, Favre memorably torched the Oakland Raiders for 399 yards and four touchdowns in a 41-7 victory.
Favre led Green Bay to a 31-3 victory over the Denver Broncos in the regular-season finale, then guided the Packers to a 33-27 overtime win over Seattle in the first round of the playoffs. Favre couldn't quite carry the team past the Philadelphia Eagles in the divisional playoffs, when Green Bay fell, 20-17 in overtime.
Before the season, Favre said he thought the Packers were committed to reaching the Super Bowl, but Green Bay responded by losing four straight games after an opening victory at Carolina. The last of those losses, at home to Tennessee, was a game colored by more grief for Favre. On Oct. 6, Tynes was killed in an ATV accident in Hattiesburg, Miss. He was 24.
Eight days later, Favre discovered that Deanna has breast cancer. She had found a lump during a self-examination.
"I know that I handled it worse than she did," Favre told Kolber. "Learning of her diagnosis was like "Ah, where do we go from here?' I'm sure that deep down inside, she was probably really scared, and probably still is.
"But I felt helpless and still feel helpless. I want to go in and cure it right now -- I can't do that -- and that's pretty much the most difficult part."
Three days after the diagnosis, the Packers were 1-4 and playing at Detroit. If ever there was a chance for a distracted performance, this was it. Favre was polished and professional; he completed 25 of 38 passes for 257 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. The Packers won, 38-10.
Two days before the game against Dallas the following week, Deanna underwent a lumpectomy Oct. 22 at Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Favre responded with another terrific game against the Cowboys, completing 23 of 29 passes for 258 yards and two more touchdowns. Since then, Favre has been a bit uneven -- he threw three interceptions against the Redskins, but burned the Vikings for four touchdowns -- but the Packers are riding a five-game winning streak.
Favre and the Packers have won four five straight games.The most recent triumph, a gritty 16-13 victory over the Houston Texans, was typical Favre. The young Texans led 13-3 in the fourth quarter, but Favre rallied the Packers with three scoring drives. Ryan Longwell's 46-yard field goal as time expired followed a drive in which Favre completed six of seven passes -- the only miss being an intentional spike to stop the clock.
Packers head coach Mike Sherman said Favre, "gives you the confidence that he is going to do something special in those situations."
This has been the most difficult of his 14 NFL seasons, according to Favre. Tougher than 1999, when he played most of the season with an injured thumb and the Packers missed the playoffs with an 8-8 record. Tougher than last season when he played with a broken thumb and his father died.
These days, he and his daughters, 15-year-old Brittany and five-year-old Breleigh, are rallying around Deanna, who is still confronted by three months of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation treatment. The prognosis after early detection, however, is optimistic.
"My wife is healthy, she's in the prime of her life," Favre said. "You think that it happens to other people, but it happens to everyone. God, he deals you with some blows that at some times you think you can't handle -- and there have been some things in the last year that we thought we couldn't handle -- but we've dealt with it up until this point."
Have these travails affected the choice between continuing to play or retire?
"(Deanna) keeps saying, 'Don't worry about me -- keep playing.' " Favre told Kolber. "I don't foresee my wife saying to me that it's time to give it up unless I just really suck, pardon my French.
"But there's times that I walk on and off the field thinking I'm the best and when things like the loss of my dad and Deanna's diagnosis and the loss of her brother come about, you go, 'God, I don't know if I've got it anymore. I don't know if I can go out there and lead us through the two-minute drill anymore.'
"I've got other things to worry about and (Deanna) says they're going to be there either way, so why not do something that you know you can do? She has said to me numerous times this year, 'I don't know if this is your last year or what, but it's your decision. I want you to play the best you've ever played,' which is probably putting more pressure on me than I can deal with because I don't know if I can play as good as I've played in the past.
"But I've told her that I would give it a try. There's still a lot of football to play, and we've fought our way back, so we'll see what happens."


I'll Take the High Road

This is not the way I would have Republicans start their new term as leaders across the board.

From the New York Times:
"Spurred by an investigation connected to the majority leader, House Republicans voted Wednesday to abandon an 11-year-old party rule that required a member of their leadership to step aside temporarily if indicted."

Apparently, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay might be indicted by a partisan D.A. in Texas involving the illegal use of corporate money towards congressional races. It is not clear whether DeLay may be involved or not - in fact, it seems as a reach to try to connect him with these charges. Yet, the problem at question is that an 11-year old rule that was made by Republicans in 1993 to highlight legal troubles of big name Democrats is now being revised. Instead, it only mandates leaders who have been convicted to step down from their posts - not just indicted.

While this seems the more logical and plausible revision to the rule, this is the wrong time to change the rule. This can only be seen as a partisan switch of the rules when they don't seem to favor your side. Such a double standard should be condemned by both parties alike. And while I admire those Republicans who did see the error in committing this act I am ashamed at the number who took the low road by voting to change it.

The point is this: DeLay means alot to the Republican party for his strong leadership, yet it is not worth risking ethics in the face of bogus inditement charges that probably won't even stick. Even more so, the rule needs to be changed but the change should have come about way before the possible indictment or wait until this thing blows over. It was a bad, dumb rule - but once that rule is there you must live and die by it, not wait for one of your own to be burned by it and then change it. Double standards in any situation are bad, I do not care what political party/ideology you belong to. In order for our country to move forward and mend the bitter partisanship instances such as this one need not come about. I don't know which road you'll take, but as for me, I'll take the high road.


And the Mock Supreme Court Appointments are in!

Well, my Constitutional Law class gives its students the chance to participate in several "mock" courts. Last Wednesday, the first two court cases were passed out to the respective members that comprise it. I was lucky enough not to belong to the first two mock courts - thus enabling me to watch and learn from the mistakes made by these groups. Every person participating in these courts is either a Supreme Court justice or an attorney.
Well, my day of reckoning finally came today when the final two court appointments were handed out. Since I knew that I wouldn't be an attorney (since those were volunteers), I had a pretty good feeling about which Justice I was going to be. Let's see, let's give the Italian kid with the funny name the Justice with the funny name (who is also Italian). Seems fitting enough - and that's how I wanted it. Antonin Scalia and I will prepare for the onslaught of Constitutional Literalism!!


Bush in '04

After a long Tuesday night that turned into an early Wednesday morning, the presidential winner became clear. George W. Bush was able to win enough necessary electoral votes (270) to secure the presidency and a second term. The night was a good one for Republicans who continued to make gains in both the House and Senate. In contrast, Democrats were reeling after their Minority Leader Tom Daschle lost a close race against Republican challenger John Thune. So, with George W. winning the popular vote with 51% and Republicans making solid gains in Congress, what does this mean for the future? Well, for one thing Democrats need to take a step back and rethink their strategy when it comes to garnering votes. Who will emerge as the new leader of the Dems? Hillary Clinton? Russ Feingold? Perhaps newcomer Barack Obama? On the other hand, Republicans have been given an incredible opportunity to lay out their plans for America. How those plans turn out will be key to the future of this great country.


Election 2004

Never has an election in recent times been more critical to the direction of the nation as what will take place in a few hours today. The differences between the two candidates are clear. The choice should be obvious...
Don't let the media and hollywood tell you who to vote for (or P. Diddy for that matter, and his ridiculous "Vote or Die" t-shirts) or Michael Moron's ridiculous movie thrown under the label of Documentary (look up the words "Documentary" and "Propaganda" in the dictionary).
George W. Bush is a principled leader in this country, his decisions might not be the most popular, but his convictions are clear. Unfortunately, John Kerry is a man who "is poll-driven, and it is therefore impossible to know where or for what he stands", among other inconsistencies in his messages.
But, all that aside.....The important thing is to get out and vote today!

God Bless...


Wisconsin - Key to Election 2004

It's nice to see my state getting publicity not only nationwide, but worldwide as well.

Gladiators of America prepare for their fate
By Simon Jenkins

The decision now passes to the people...
THE high priests of polling ordained that George Bush and John Kerry should both hold last rallies next to each other under the cliffs of downtown Milwaukee yesterday — Hector and Achilles finally meeting beneath the walls of Troy.
As the rain fell and the wind raced in over Lake Michigan, the President arrived with the Oak Ridge Boys, Mr Kerry with Jon Bon Jovi. Everyone seemed exhausted. To the mayor, Tom Barrett, there had “never been a day like it in the history of Milwaukee”.
The presence of both candidates in this Midwest city is an eccentric climax to the bitter 2004 campaign. Polls show them as close today as at the start. But to the “big three” swing states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida have been added four more. A candidate could lose two of the three but still win if he takes Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin. The last went Democrat in 2000 by just 2,000 votes and is the most marginal. “If the President takes Wisconsin,” Mr Bush’s strategist, Matthew Dowd, says, “he’s won.” Hence the end game in Milwaukee.
These northern Midwest states are virtually a new Confederacy. Modern America sees them as embodying its polarity. Arriving in Wisconsin from New York or Washington is like coming to a war front.
Suddenly there is noise. Television screens erupt in abusive advertisements. Posters and canvassers are everywhere. Europeans may feel aggrieved at not voting on the leadership of the Western world, but so do New Yorkers, Californians and Texans. Because they are predictable, they have seen virtually no campaigning. Instead Mr Bush has been to Wisconsin 13 times, Mr Kerry 12.
This belief in the power of human touch is comforting in the age of electronics, as if candidates were holy relics with the power to effect miracles by their presence. Wisconsin has come to treat Mr Bush and Mr Kerry as old familiars. One cartoon has a wife asking her husband: “Darling, have you put the candidates out for the night?” The idea that left-wing Wisconsin should be a swing state was, until recently, incredible. Its biggest city, Milwaukee, was 70 per cent German a century ago. Until the 1970s, it was the capital of brewing and sausages, and the only American city regularly to vote Socialist. Its biggest event was the end of Prohibition, and the invention of canned beer. Today it has shed its nickname as “rust-buckle of the rust belt” and restored its bold city centre. It has also built a stunning icon of renewal in Santiago Calatrava’s lakeside art gallery, a great white goose wing seeming to fly out over the lake.
But prosperity brought suburbs and suburbs brought Republicans. Its governor, Jim Doyle, now regards the state as a microcosm of America, rich and poor, urban and rural. It saw the first attempt at Reagan’s workfare. The resulting income disparity between inner and outer Milwaukee is the widest in America, as is the gap between white and African-American schoolchildren.
Just as the war on terrorism divides the Bush and Kerry camps, so Medicare and social security divide Wisconsin. It is proper that the final battle should take place here.
The campaign now passes to the small people. As of tonight the artillery falls silent and the infantry fans out across the land. In a neck-and-neck election all depends on canvassers, telephoners, drivers and the new political mercenaries, campaign lawyers.
At a Kerry command post in Milwaukee’s West Allis district yesterday I watched workers wade through torn stickers, Coke cans and cold pizza to pore over maps and wall charts listing thousands of names, addresses and phone numbers. “The presidency could turn on this wall,” one said with pride.
Whereas the 2000 election argument in Florida was over ballot cards, 2004’s argument will be over voter registration. In 2000, 66 per cent of Wisconsin adults voted. This year a registration drive that claims 30,000 new names should push that above 70 per cent. And since wisdom holds that Mr Kerry benefits from high turnout, Milwaukee has been invaded by voter registration groups. They sleep on floors, man telephones and struggle to honour charitable status by merely “promoting registration”.
Republicans reply with lawyers. Most states have ordinances granting parties the right to challenge voters. In Wisconsin, the Bush camp first challenged 37,000 and is now fighting over 5,600, which it contends may be fraudulent. With voters needing only proof of identity to vote on the day, the invitation to challenge such provisional votes is irresistible.
In Ohio, 35,000 registrations have been questioned. Legal battalions are awaiting the result in Florida. One pro-registration group, Project Vote, was found to be paying $1.50 for each new registration. The FBI was summoned to check if felons were involved. Everywhere “ballot watchers” are watching, and being watched. The odds on the result being declared tomorrow night seem slim. Some believe that Americans must get used to elections taking days, if not weeks, to resolve.
Down in Florida they are still having trouble with touch-screen voting machines, which are liable to malfunction and leave no paper trails for recounts. Small wonder that the question most asked of visiting Britons is “how do you vote over there”? The answer is that Mr Gutenberg knew one thing that Mr Gates has yet to better — the value of a piece of paper.

A View From Britain

We've heard so much about how the "world" backs Mr. Kerry - here's a refresher, someone unbiased and frankly, says it as he sees it...

We had Churchill. The US has Bush. When you need a man for a fight . . .

THERE’S NO denying that Hamlet is the more interesting guy. But there’s a reason Fortinbras commands the stage at the end of the play. It’s easy to understand why the political Establishment wanted Lord Halifax to succeed Neville Chamberlain in 1940. But there’s a reason why it really couldn’t be anyone but Churchill. And no one can deny that John Kerry, the victor of this year’s presidential debates, is the choice of most intelligent and sophisticated people in Britain. But there’s a reason why I still hope America votes for George W. Bush today.
That reason? It’s one word. Will.
In 1940 the British people understood that the virtues that had counted in a time of peace were no longer the qualities needed when fighting a war. The diplomacy practised by Chamberlain, designed to avert conflict, had failed. And those closest to him, who had sat in his Cabinet and shared his strategy, were temperamentally ill at ease with the requirements of a world in which so many of their assumptions had been shattered. An Establishment reluctant to admit that it had got so much wrong hankered after a new leader who would not mark too dramatic a shift from what had gone before. But what Britain needed, and what it found in Churchill, was a leader who saw clearly the nature of the threat we faced and therefore could promise nothing but the sacrifices necessary for victory.
Of course, as those who knew him were aware, Churchill had many flaws. His ministerial record, from Gallipoli to Narvik, was studded by failure. He had a worrying tendency to micro-manage what was best left to his subordinates. His wilder strategic notions left able lieutenants like the Chief of the General Staff, Alanbrooke, exasperated. Some of his very closest colleagues, such as his raffish confidante Brendan Bracken or Professor Frederick Lindemann, the advocate of area bombing, were mavericks whose ideas history doesn’t judge particularly kindly. But all these weaknesses didn’t count for nearly as much as Churchill’s central virtue. He possessed, from the beginning, a single-minded desire to win. He had a will to victory which endured through criticism, reverses and painful error until the job was done.
The case for Bush today is the same. He and his Administration have made many mistakes. Although Afghanistan is moving slowly towards democracy, more should still have been done to support it after its liberation from the Taleban. The public case for removing Saddam Hussein should have been made on many fronts, instead of becoming bogged down in attempts to prove possession of smoking guns. More troops should have been committed to the war itself and they should have been used more quickly to combat the terrorist counter-attack. In particular, coalition forces should have finished the job in Fallujah earlier this year, instead of handing control of the town over to one of Saddam’s former lieutenants, a move which only disheartened the majority of Iraqis who wished to see Baathists in jail rather than hired as security subcontractors.
More could have been done to give Iraqis ownership of the liberation from the beginning, in particular through the early empowerment of moderate Shia and Kurds. And the horrors of Abu Ghraib demanded an acknowledgement of fault more rapid, profound and far-reaching than initially offered.
But all these mistakes, serious as they are, are the consequence of getting the big thing right. Recognising that victory in war comes from taking the fight to the enemy. In every conflict even the greatest leaders falter. Pitt was guilty of repeated failures early in his struggle against Napoleon. Lincoln’s Union forces badly mishandled matters at the start of the American Civil War. But victory came to those who were determined, come what may, that they would be implacable in pursuit of the enemy. In the conflict we now face, a global war against fundamentalist terror, the greatest mistake of all would be a failure to show the necessary determination.
It was the belief that hard choices could be avoided, that negotiations, international agreements, concordats and colloquia could deal with our unruly world, which encouraged terrorism in the first place. The architects of 9/11 and the planners of the Madrid, Bali and Istanbul bombings have made a calculation that the West is decadent, addicted to compromise and incapable of shouldering the burden necessary to defend its civilisation. When the Spanish people responded to the Madrid bombing by voting for a Government which was pledged to scale down its commitment to combating terrorism, the leaders of al-Qaeda drew the appropriate conclusion. The West lacked the will to fight. They would prevail.
It is no reflection on John Kerry’s character or patriotism to say that, should he win tonight, then a similar conclusion will be drawn by the terror masters. He may well hope that his Administration would be more effective in fighting terror. But his words, and actions, betray a mindset uncomfortable with the sacrifices required. The man Kerry claims as his hero, John F. Kennedy, promised that America would pay any price and bear any burden in its fight for freedom. But Kerry promises Americans that he will reduce the burden; indeed, he’ll do anything to get others to shoulder it. When it comes to paying the price, he wants a discount. He’s told the American people they should spend less money fighting terror in Iraq so that more can be spent fighting fires at home.
A visible reluctance to commit everything possible to the fight against terrorism, and to risk unpopularity in order to prevail, is the surest way of communicating weakness to the terrorists and encouraging them to fight with redoubled energy. George W. Bush knows that instinctively. And, in the interests of a safer world, that is why I hope he wins.