Brett Favre: Hero or villain?

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.