A warts-and-all biography of one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.
Brett Favre is an icon in the football world, a player who was almost universally described as a “gunslinger” for his risky, sometimes-reckless, sometimes-inspired style of play. As veteran sports biographer Pearlman (Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s, 2014, etc.)—who has made a career of chronicling the vibrant, controversial, and sometimes-unsavory aspects of the NFL’s recent history—shows, the gunslinger mentality extended to Favre’s off-the-field behavior. In the popular imagination, Favre is an aw-shucks good ole’ boy, a small-town Mississippian whose playing style evoked a childlike love for the game. Yet in this more rounded—and some might say prurient—portrait, Favre was a serial philanderer and problem drinker whose well-known problem with painkillers went far deeper than most observers understood. Playing in isolated Green Bay, Wisconsin, meant that a pliable local media most often covered up Favre’s excesses, which almost certainly would have been revealed in a more competitive media market. Pearlman’s writing is brisk and generally readable, though the book is occasionally marred by clunky prose. Furthermore, while biographers should avoid hagiography, one wonders if the depth of exploration of Favre’s faithlessness to his wife, Deanna (who ends up as the story’s martyr), or his sometimes-unkind treatment of his father, Irv, is necessary. The author ends up asserting that Favre was both a football icon and a flawed human being, hardly a revolutionary conclusion. Nonetheless, this is the deepest understanding we are likely to have of Favre for quite some time.
Though not without its flaws, Pearlman’s book is a complete, satisfying biography of a gunslinger who, for both better and worse, was far more complex than most fans have understood.