The untold truth of Brett Favre's wife

It's said that behind every great man is a great woman. Luckily for all-time NFL great Brett Favre, his wife, Deanna Farve, could qualify for sainthood. She has stuck by him when most women might have sacked their marriage long ago.

While football fans watched her husband rise to legendary status with the Green Bay Packers, Brett's playing style mirrored life at home for the Favres. As a quarterback, Brett was the proverbial "gunslinger," making throws in high-risk situations that others would let pass. Upon retiring in 2010, he held "the record for most regular-season touchdown passes," according to SB Nation. But he's also thrown the most interceptions.

Such has been Deanna's life and marriage: you take the good with the bad and you push past the pain. Brett and Deanna met as high school sweethearts, dated, and conceived a daughter before spending time apart as Brett pursued his fledgling pro sports dreams. Then came the really bad times, which included addiction, infidelities, and even natural disasters. While Brett will go down as one of the best signal-callers in NFL history, there should be a spot for his better half in the Wife Hall of Fame. This is the untold truth of Brett Favre's wife. 

They were high school sweethearts

Brett Favre and Deanna Tynes met in their small hometown of Kiln, Miss. There were no cameras and no fame, just a birthday party for Brett's older brother. Deanna was standing alone under a basketball net during her sophomore year in high school.

"I was kind of shy, kind of embarrassed. I was ready to run. But I didn't have anyone to talk to, besides him, so we kind of hung out. He was kind of shy, too, then. We were only 14 years old," Deanna told The Journal Times in 1997. "The chemistry was there right away. We were both athletic and he was probably attracted to that."

An athlete in her own right, Deanna earned a basketball scholarship to nearby Pearl River Community College while Brett went off at the University of Southern Mississippi. She would give up her basketball career when she became pregnant with the couple's first child, Brittany, at age 19, raising her as a single mother while Brett was trying to make it in the NFL.

She is deeply religious

Both Deanna and Brett Favre grew up in deeply Catholic households, and Deanna cites her faith often when talking about her life and her family.

"I just remember my mom always being involved in the church, reading the Bible every night," Deanna told The Compass. "She was just very adamant in teaching us and getting across the faith, all about being Catholic and the importance of going to church on Sunday. ... I thank God all of the time that I have faith because I don't understand what people would do without faith."

Her family may not have happened without that faith, she told The Journal Times, saying "People talked to me about abortion, and there was no way. I was totally against it. And I look at her [Brittany] every day thanking God I was."

Life with a famous NFL quarterback wasn't always roses, but ultimately, faith was the bedrock that also kept Brett grounded and striving to be a better man, even through the darkest of hours. "I think Deanna has shaped Brett Favre into the man he is today," the couple's pastor, Father Tommy Conway, told Roman Catholic Man. "I give her an awful lot of credit. They have faced adversity in their lives and they are both better people for it."

Struggles were a big part of life

Brett Favre was taken in the second round of the NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons in 1991, producing a draft day photo that would become viral in its day, but stardom was far from a sure thing. On the field, he played one mostly unremarkable, if not bizarre, season in Atlanta, throwing two interceptions on just four pass attempts for the entire season.

While he adapted to life in the NFL, back in Mississippi, Deanna Favre (then Tynes) was the one who bore the brunt, taking menial jobs in order to support herself and the couple's daughter, Brittany. "I was a single mom, and had no insurance," Deanna told the Daily News of a time when her relationship with Brett became murky. "We've always been people who just lived. It was never really about planning. I never could see us not together, and I just took it day-by-day." Despite her faith that they would work out in the end, she refused his help. "I could take care of myself."

Soon enough, in a whole new city, she would be the one taking care of Brett, as his rise to stardom brought demons along with it.

Injuries lead to addiction

Following his season in Atlanta, the Falcons traded Brett Favre to the Green Bay Packers in a deal that would change the course of NFL history. According to ESPN, it almost didn't happen, though, as Brett failed his required physical, stemming from a devastating hip injury during his senior season at Southern Miss.

The move, and his subsequent stellar play, would almost immediately bring immeasurable fame for Brett, but injuries, and NFL stardom, would catch up to him. His days in Atlanta led him to partying more, and Deanna Farve (then Tynes), who had moved to Green Bay to join Brett, uncovered his secrets quickly. "One day I discovered a plastic bag filled with white pills. Painkillers. He was horribly addicted to painkillers, partly as a result of all the injuries he played with," she wrote for Guideposts.

Brett made multiple private trips to rehab at Deanna and agent Bus Cook's urging. When doctors found liver damage in Brett, who was taking up to "15 Vicodin at a time" (per CBS Sports) during one of his three consecutive MVP seasons, he publicly agreed to seek treatment in 1996, spending 72 days in a facility.

"We went through counseling together and he was once again the best friend I'd ever had — and by now my husband." Deanna wrote in Guideposts. However, despite kicking pills, Brett began turning to the bottle more and more and wouldn't quit drinking for three more years.

Infidelity nearly derailed their marriage

Every marriage sees its ups and downs through the years, and the Favre's nearly came to an end from the very beginning when Deanna walked in on Brett talking on the phone with another woman. "You asked me to move up here to Green Bay and now you're calling these girls — well, you're on your own now. I'm not living this way. All this stuff is over for me,'" Deanna wrote in her best-selling autobiography, Don't Bet Against Me!

While Deanna considered leaving, the wife of an assistant coach convinced her to stay, saying, "Don't leave, or Brett will end up killing himself." She stayed, but it wasn't the only time Deanna would have to deal with Brett's infidelity. Following his lone season with the New York Jets in 2008, a Jets sideline reporter, Jenn Sterger (pictured above), came forward and said Favre had left her voicemails and sent her inappropriate photos of "little Brett." Other women came forward with similar accusations, and though Brett admitted leaving the voicemails to Sterger, he denied sending photos.

Deanna addressed the scandals while promoting her book The Cure for the Chronic Life on Good Morning Americasaying "I'm a woman of faith. Faith has gotten me through many difficult struggles. It will get me through this one."

Tragedy came in bunches

Like most other couples, the Favres have had to deal with loss, only a lot more publicly than most. However, the way they've handled their grief shows just how strong they are as a couple. 

One day after his father, Irvin Favre, had a heart attack or stroke while driving near Kiln, Miss. just before Christmas in 2003, Brett Favre played perhaps the greatest game of his career, torching the Oakland Raiders for 311 yards and four touchdowns in the first half of a 41-7 victory. As he walked off the field, visibly weary (shown above), Deanna Favre was right there as she'd always been to help him.

Less than a year later, Deanna's brother, Casey Tynes, was killed in an ATV accident on the Favre's property in Hattiesburg. Three years after that, Deanna's stepfather, Rocky Byrd, died unexpectedly of a heart attack at 56. It was Deanna that called to break the news. "I was as close to him as I was to my Dad," Brett would tell the Daily News of Rocky, who lived and worked on the Favre's Mississippi property. "It's tough. This one was probably as tough as any," Favre told the Associated Press (via NFL.com).

For Deanna, her brother and stepfather's deaths were difficult, but just four days after Casey's death, she would get news that would rock her world.

She survived breast cancer

Amid the sadness from her brother's passing, Deanna Favre found out from her doctor that she had breast cancer and needed to undergo a lumpectomy followed by chemotherapy. "Brett was relieved to learn that the situation is not as bad as it could have been," Deanna's brother-in-law, Scott Favre, said in a statement following Deanna's lumpectomy (per ESPN). "We think that they got (all of the cancer) out."

Deanna, meanwhile, was conflicted. "I had a loving husband, two daughters, a wonderful life. And breast cancer," she told CBN. She credited her Christian faith, as well as the support of Brett and her family as helping her through it. As she lost her hair through chemotherapy, Brett and their daughters shaved their heads in support. "I just feel like, with faith, it helps me see the good in everything," Deanna told The Compass.

She then decided to make good from her cancer diagnoses by starting a charity to help women in similar situations.

Her charitable side started early

Deanna and Brett Favre began the Brett Favre Fourward Foundation in 1995 to help underserved and disabled children in Mississippi and Wisconsin. While Brett was attracting attention to his cause on the football field, once again it was Deanna keeping things together and running the show behind the scenes.

When she was diagnosed with breast cancer, Deanna founded the Deanna Favre Hope Foundation to financially help women in their fight against breast cancer. "I still have vivid memories of the days I spent struggling to make ends meet as a single mom. If I'd been diagnosed with cancer back then, I would never have been able to afford the kind of medical care I've received," Deanna said in a personal letter she published on the foundation's website.

Eventually the two charities would merge into the Favre 4 Hope foundation. "Her having breast cancer years ago, it's near and dear to her heart," Brett told the Denver Post. "We joined forces and are trying to raise money for both. I'm proud to say we've raised and donated over $8 million (since their charities' inception)."

She held down the fort during Hurricane Katrina

While Brett Favre was in Green Bay preparing for a preseason game in 2005, Hurricane Katrina ripped through the Gulf Coast and destroyed Brett's childhood home in Kiln, Miss., leaving his mother and grandfather to "[ride] out the storm in the attic," according to ESPN.

"We'd figured (the phones would go out,) but when I didn't hear from them for two days, I was concerned," Brett told People, "I was just worried, with each passing minute, an hour, and before I knew it, it was Tuesday. My mom found a (TV news) van and asked if she could make a call. It was the first time I had heard from anyone down there. I wasn't even able to get in touch with my wife, who was much more inland, until late Tuesday night."

Deanna Favre, an hour away from Kiln in Hattiesburg, Miss., said that although there was some damage to their property, she and his two daughters were safe. True to form, Deanna, months removed her battle with cancer, had opened the Favre home to 50 or so relatives and friends to wait out the devastation.

Who better to enshrine Brett?

When Brett Favre's remarkable playing career was over, it was only fitting that it was Deanna Favre to officially enshrine her husband in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. "Deanna is the best teammate I've ever had," Favre said before the ceremony (per ESPN). "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." Deanna became just the second player's wife to enshrine her husband, after Mike Singletary's wife, Kim, had the honor in 1998.

Through all their triumphs and tragedies, struggles and victories, Deanna's summary of Brett's style of play could be a metaphor for much of their life together. "He played risky," she said in a video package for her speech. "He was always going to do something crazy if it meant he could pull off a win. There's talented players, there's players who play with heart. He had both of those, but he also had that mindset that makes him extraordinary."

Through all the craziness and his journey toward extraordinary, it was Deanna that kept the quarterback from straying too far off course.

She's one for the Wife Hall of Fame.