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Mourning Favre gets back to playing football

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -Brett Favre rejoined the Green Bay Packers on Thursday with a heavy heart and a desire to resume preparations for the upcoming season.

The Green Bay quarterback was excused from Packers practices earlier in the week to return home to Mississippi for the funeral services of his wife's stepfather, Rocky Byrd, who died Saturday after suffering a heart attack.

"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," Favre said during his first news conference of training camp. "If I wasn't playing, retired, and was at home, it would be much more difficult to be in that environment."

Favre, the NFL's only three-time MVP, has endured a lot of personal sadness the last few years. His father, Irv, died of a heart attack a day before the Packers played at Oakland in December 2003. The brother of his wife Deanna died from injuries sustained in an all-terrain vehicle accident on family property in Hattiesburg, Miss., in October 2004.

A week later, Deanna was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Brett Favre's childhood home in Kiln, Miss., where his mother still lived, was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.

"It's tough. This one was probably as tough as any," Favre said of Byrd's death. "Surprised. (For) the whole family, it's been difficult, very difficult, and will be."

Favre said he was as close with Byrd as he was with his own father, in some regards closer because he regarded Byrd as a confidant the last 10 years. Byrd, who was 56, was the second husband of Deanna's mother, Ann. They had a residence on the family estate.

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

Favre credited football with helping him not to dwell too long on off-the-field trials. At the urging of his family, Favre stayed with the Packers in Oakland after his father died and had one of his best performances in an illustrious 17-year pro career.

He threw for 399 yards and four touchdowns with a personal-best 154.9 passer rating in a nationally televised Monday night victory.

"At least for me, it's something to direct my focus to," he said. "People have often said, 'I don't know how you focus or are able to kind of channel your energy and stuff into football during these times.' Well, it can be difficult, but to me, it's better than not having anything to focus on but the tragedy itself. It's not that I forget about it."

Favre, who didn't practice Monday and Tuesday, returned to Green Bay on Wednesday night and headed to Lambeau Field to watch practice film.

"I was eager to get back and to get back to work," Favre said. "I have no idea what's going to happen this year. I'm not going to sit here and make predictions."

Favre was publicly critical of team management in the spring for not upgrading the offense after the Packers went 8-8 last season and barely missed making the playoffs.

He said Thursday that question marks surround the offense, which lost star running back Ahman Green to free agency and has what Favre feels is only one proven pass catcher in Donald Driver.

"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."

Favre said his throwing shoulder his fine, after he was bothered by soreness that cut short his involvement in offseason workouts in June. He said he now stretches his shoulders more before hitting the field. He put ice on his shoulder after he practiced Saturday and Sunday.

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