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Brett Favre: Hero or villain?

Brett Favre's crucial interception in Sunday's NFC championship game ended a season in which the Minnesota Vikings quarterback has been both lauded and loathed.

By Matt ClarkStaff writer / January 25, 2010

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre throws a pass against the New Orleans Saints during the first quarter of the NFL's NFC Championship football game in New Orleans, Louisiana, Sunday.

Jeff Haynes/Reuters

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Is football graybeard Brett Favre a hero or a villain?

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Over the course of Favre's extraordinary season, it is a question that had almost been forgotten. But after a last-second interception in the NFC championship game Sunday, which deprived his Minnesota Vikings of the chance to kick a game-winning field goal and advance to the Super Bowl, Favre has once again put himself at the center of a sporting world determined either to love him or loathe him.

Last summer, there was Favre's chronic indecision (and some would say deceit) about whether he would play again, followed by his eventual decision to join the Minnesota Vikings – the archrival of the team where he had spent virtually all of his Hall of Fame career, the Green Bay Packers.

This was, it seemed to many, rank villainy.

Yet by Sunday evening, a different Favre had emerged, one who had taken a team that had previously been less than the sum of its parts to the doorstep of the Super Bowl. He had played the best football of his career, turning untested receivers into stars along the way, and becoming the heart and soul of his new team.

He was every bit the hero.

That, however, came crashing down in the final seconds of regulation Sunday. Favre, battered by a New Orleans Saints defense that said it was "determined to hit him over and over and make him feel it," threw an interception with the Vikings in field goal range and only a few seconds remaining in regulation.

The Saints, manhandled for much of the day, squeaked by with an overtime victory, and Favre never had a chance to atone for his mistake.

'Vintage Favre'

The interception has become a Rorschach test to separate football fans into two camps: the Favre lovers and haters.

“Vintage Farve,” critics are saying, pointing to the passionate Mississippian’s penchant for trying to do too much at key moments. His selfish desire to be the hero led to the Vikings needless defeat, says the I-told-you-so crowd.

"It was only a matter of time before the old Favre made an appearance," writes Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com. "The old Favre ... you remember him. The reckless Favre, the scary Favre, the alter-ego who for so long made Packers fans pull the hair strand by strand from their heads and the one Minnesota thought they'd never see again."

Yet many others are coming to Favre's defense.

“Favre should be considered a hero in Minnesota, and I don’t mean simply because he took the team to the final moments of the NFC championship game – although that’s more than reason enough,” writes the Kansas City Star’s Martin Manley in the paper’s “Upon Further Review” blog. “He also played a respectable game Sunday. If you want someone to blame for the loss (unless you are a Green Bay fan), there is plenty of blame to go around.”

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