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Packers coach, teammates to attend services

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Brett Favre went home to Mississippi on
Tuesday, hours after playing one of the best games of his career
despite the unexpected death of his father the day before.

Green Bay Packers coach Mike Sherman juggled his schedule so
that he, too, could attend Irvin Favre's funeral Wednesday at St.
Paul Catholic Church in Pass Christian, Miss.

Backup quarterback Doug Pederson and his wife, Jeannie, close
friends of the Favres, are among a handful of people who will fly
out Christmas Eve with Sherman.

Assistant head coach Bob Slowik will run practice in Sherman's
absence as the Packers (9-6) prepare to host Denver (10-5) in a
crucial game that could determine if Green Bay makes the playoffs.

The Packers have a short week because of their game Monday night
at Oakland, when Favre had the best passer rating of his career in
a 41-7 rout of the Raiders.

Favre and his wife, Deanna, flew out of San Francisco on their
own.

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 Favre will be emotionally and physically
exhausted 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 Tuesday.

"But he's going to go through so many ups and downs these next
few days. I just feel sorry for him. I know how terrible it is to
get that call," added Harlan, who, like Favre, was 34 when his
father died of a heart attack in 1972.

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.

Favre informed his teammates at the team meeting Sunday night he
planned to play before flying home to be with his family. He hasn't
missed a game since becoming a starter on Sept. 27, 1992, and his
consecutive starts streak of 205 games, including playoffs, is the
most for an NFL quarterback.

"I wasn't surprised a bit that he played," Harlan said.

Nor was he surprised at how well Favre performed.

"Many years ago I ceased to be amazed at what he can do. What a
treat he has been to watch throughout his career," Harlan said.

Favre, who last week said he'll return in 2004, threw for 399
yards, three shy of his career high, and four touchdowns in compiling his career-best passer 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.

And he got help from his inspired teammates, who played with
unusual passion to match Favre's remarkable poise.

Ahman Green ran for 127 yards and a score. Javon Walker (four
catches, 124 yards, two touchdowns), Robert Ferguson (3-85) and
Donald Driver (3-78) all had acrobatic catches in double or even
triple coverage. Wesley Walls, one of Favre's closest friends,
caught his first touchdown pass as a Packer.

Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila had three sacks and cornerback Michael Hawthorne had two interceptions.

"I admired the way Brett Favre played and I admired just as
much the way the players rallied around him," Harlan said. "I
think his teammates just said, 'We're going to lift him to greater
heights.' I mean, we just made plays that we hadn't made in a long,
long time."

Sherman wasn't sure when Favre would return to Green Bay.

"I think it's important that he does what he has to do," Sherman said, "and 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.

"Fortunately for us, we have a veteran quarterback. We're not
going to do anything or say anything that he hasn't done or seen
before."