PACKERS Grieving Favre takes time for father's funeral

Green Bay officials are uncertain when their quarterback will return to practice.
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- Brett Favre will get all the time he needs to grieve his father's death.
The Green Bay Packers quarterback flew home Tuesday for Irvin Favre's funeral at St. Paul Catholic Church in Pass Christian, Miss., on Christmas Eve.
Coach Mike Sherman, who also planned to attend the Mass and burial, wasn't sure when Favre would return to Green Bay even though the Packers' playoff hopes could ride on their game Sunday against Denver.
"I trust that he'll make a good decision in regard to his family first and then in regard to his teammates and his team and this game coming up here," Sherman said. "Fortunately for us, we have a veteran [backup] quarterback.
"We're not going to do anything or say anything that he hasn't done or seen before. But certainly he needs to get his work in this week."
Coach, friends attend
Sherman planned to fly today to attend the funeral along with Favre's backup, Doug Pederson, and his wife, Jeannie, who are close friends of the Favres.
Assistant head coach Bob Slowik will run practice in Sherman's absence.
The Packers have a short week because of their game Monday night at Oakland, after which Favre and his wife, Deanna, flew to Mississippi.
Although Favre played brilliantly less than 24 hours after learning his father died of a massive heart attack while driving near his family's home in Kiln, Miss., there has to be concern in the organization that he will be emotionally and physically spent by Sunday.
"I think Brett plays a lot on adrenaline, though, and I think Sunday when Denver is here, he'll be back to his old competitive self," team president Bob Harlan said.
Favre was golfing with Pederson, Ryan Longwell and Josh Bidwell at a country club near the team hotel Sunday when Pederson got a call on his cell phone from Favre's wife. She couldn't bring herself to deliver the awful news to her husband.
Emotional team talk
Sherman told Favre he could go home if he wanted, but Favre said no. In an emotional talk at the team meeting Sunday night, Favre said his father would have wanted him to play.
"Brett Favre's this tough quarterback that's indestructible, and he showed a very vulnerable side," Sherman said.
His teammates consoled him and then showed a determination Monday night not to let him down, Sherman said.
"As I said to them after the game, 'We can't change the events of the last 24 hours, but those events have changed us,' " the coach recounted. "We were a close team to begin with, but it appears to me that now we're even closer because of this."
Favre extended his NFL quarterbacks record to 205 straight starts, and he made it one of his best, throwing for 399 yards -- three shy of his career high -- and four touchdowns as the Packers piled up 548 yards, the third-highest in team history.
None of Favre's teammates were surprised he decided to play, but some were shocked at how well he performed under the circumstances.
"I've got two heroes: my dad and Brett Favre," guard Mike Wahle said. "That was unbelievable what he did."
He wasn't alone.
"I'm flabbergasted," center Mike Flanagan said.
Favre, who last week said he'll return in 2004, posted a career-best quarterback rating of 154.9. His first-half numbers -- 15-of-18 for 311 yards, four TDs and no interceptions -- were perfect, based on the NFL's passer rating system in which the maximum possible rating is 158.3.

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