LA CROSSE, Wis. - It's a typical Sunday at the Favre house here in La Crosse. There's football on TV, food on the grill and a house full of Favre's.
"I'm Leslie Favre." "I'm Bill Favre." "I'm Augusta Favre." "I'm C.J. Favre." "I'm Tony Favre." "I'm Michael Favre and I'm the youngest." Jean Vaughn Favre, local realtor and mother of 6 is a huge Brett Favre fanatic and cheers for whatever team he's on. Her Packers-loving children do not.
So my original plan with this story was to put together a funny sports feature about a family of Favre's and the NFL Quarterback that divided them. But there's really a lot more to this story than meets the eye. To truly appreciate this family and who they are today, we need to go back a few years when Jean Vaughn Favre was just Jean Vaughn. The year was 1999 and Jean was a single mom raising 6 kids on her own. Now back then Jean admits she knew nothing about sports, couldn't care less about the Packers and swears that even after their Superbowl win in 1996...she didn't even know who Brett Favre was. But that was all about to change when an old acquaintance named Pete Favre re-entered her life."
"He was my next door neighbor in my first apartment with my ex-husband. 20 years later, he called me and said, 'I'm looking for a house and I saw a familiar face in the paper and wondered if you'd like to help me.'"
It was the beginning of October. "By October 21st he asked me if I'd date him. The 22nd, he asked if I would marry him."
A whirlwind romance that culminated with a wedding in December. There, Pete's 2 children sat side by side with Jean's six creating their new family.
"There are 6 boys and 2 girls. Everybody gets along really well."
Pete's impact on their lives was instant and amazing. First, he adopted Jean's youngest three children while the other three legally took on his name. Second, Pete - a life long athlete himself, brought a love of all things sports to this family leaving poor Jean was outnumbered. "I live in Wisconsin, I have 6 sons that play every sport. I don't like sports and my last name is Favre. It didn't get any worse."
In truth, life couldn't get any better for Jean. All was well and good in the Favre household until that fateful February day. "He was complaining about his ribs hurting. I finally insist he go to get a rib belt or something. So we went to walk-in and they did and x-ray and told us he had lung cancer. It turned out that it was inoperable. And he died in October. Exactly 5 years to the day that he asked me to date him."
It's been 6 years now since Pete's death but his presence is still all around. Because of him...Jean is now a permanent fixture on the bleachers of many a local sporting event. "I can honestly tell you I don't always know what's going on. It seems like there's an amazing amount of rules for every sport."
Currently CJ Favre plays baseball for Viterbo. "CJ always has a picture of Pete in his hat." Tony Favre is on the football team at UW-L and Michael Favre just wrapped up his football season appropriately sporting the #4 jersey for the Aquinas Bluegolds. "They do what they do for their dad."
Which brings us back to where we started. That sacred Sunday gathering that has continued all these years. Sure you can find a house full of Favre's...but you'll also find a lot of adopted family as well. "My parents divorced when I was younger and my mom hasn't been around in my life and luckily I got to meet Jeanne. She's done a lot for me and she's like a mom to me."
"Growing up in this family. It's very entertaining. Challenging at times - you gotta hold your own. But we have a blast and getting together every Sunday just keeps us closer."
So in the end this story really isn't about a family divided at all. It's about a family that has come together...and stayed together, thanks to the heart of their team. Now, she would say that was him, but the truth is - it's really always been her.