After an anxious day and a half of being unable to reach his mother, two brothers and grandmother by telephone, Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre learned Tuesday afternoon that they were alive and well but his mother's home in Kiln, Miss., had been all but destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.
According to the Packers, Favre spoke to his mother Bonita with the help of a Houston television station that was covering the effects of the hurricane on the Gulf Coast. Earlier Tuesday, during his weekly news conference, Favre had said he was concerned because he hadn't been able to get through since Monday morning to those family members gathered in Kiln.
Favre's mother told him, according to the Packers, that she'd spent Monday night in the attic of the flooded house before being able to go Tuesday to Favre's brother Jeff's house on higher ground nearby. Favre's mother indicated that her house likely will have to be torn down and completely rebuilt, according to the team.
Favre said earlier Tuesday that the family members had decided against evacuating and had gathered at his mother's house because they thought it would be safe there. The house is about five miles inland but is near a river and a creek, Favre said. The house survived Hurricane Camille in August 1969, about two months before Favre was born, but it couldn't withstand Katrina.
"[If] you're from there, you kind of know," Favre said. "You've been through a bunch. [But] there's always that one."
Favre had been able to remain in touch with his wife Deanna, who weathered the storm at their home in Hattiesburg, Miss., about 60 miles north of Kiln, with their two children and about 50 other family members and friends who gathered there.
"Most of those people are still there because they have nothing to go home to," Favre said, adding that he planned to try to get to Hattiesburg after the Packers' preseason finale Thursday night at Tennessee.
Favre had received a message from his brother Scott early Monday, but then was unable to contact his family members in Kiln until Tuesday's conversation with his mother. Before hearing from his mother, he called the period as difficult a time as he'd endured during his NFL career.
"No one can go in," Favre said earlier Tuesday. "No one can come out. There's no cell phones working. There's no land phones working. Half the county is under water, from what I understand. . . . In my gut, I feel like they're okay. But with each minute that passes, I begin to wonder. . . . This is one of those situations where I would love to do whatever I could to help . . . but I don't even know where to start. It's tough to focus on anything right now because I'm very concerned."
This was the latest in a series of hardships that Favre has had to endure very publicly in recent years. His father Irvin died of a heart attack. His brother-in-law, Casey Tynes, was killed in an all-terrain vehicle crash on Favre's property. Deanna was diagnosed with breast cancer.
"I found myself, probably over the last 24 hours, a couple times saying, 'Why me?' or, 'Of all places . . . ' " Favre said. " . . . [But] as quickly as that thought popped into my head -- it popped into my head probably more than I would like it to -- I try to remind myself of the things to be thankful for, which there are a lot. . . . . To have tragedies in my life is no different from anyone else. It's just that mine are on TV and in the papers and things like that. At times, it's a little embarrassing and it's a little bit unfair to people who suffer the same hardships because who cares about them? So I try to remind myself of those people."
Saints Headed to San Antonio
With New Orleans flooded in the aftermath of Katrina, the Saints have made tentative plans to base their operations in San Antonio -- about 550 miles from New Orleans -- after their preseason finale Thursday at Oakland, team spokesman Greg Bensel said Tuesday.
The Saints are practicing this week in San Jose, Calif.
Bensel said Tuesday that damage assessments of the Superdome, which had two sections of its roof torn off by the hurricane, have not been completed. The league and the Saints have begun discussions about contingency plans in case the Superdome is not ready for the club's Sept. 18 home opener against the New York Giants, but Bensel and NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said no decisions had been made.
Possible alternative sites for Saints' home games if the Superdome can't be used reportedly include San Antonio, Houston, Jackson, Miss., and Baton Rouge, La. The league would like the Saints to play games as close as possible to New Orleans if the Superdome is deemed unfit for use. Saints owner Tom Benson has two homes and several auto dealerships in San Antonio, and San Antonio is one of the cities thought to be a potential home for the Saints if they were to leave New Orleans.
The Saints open the regular season on the road, at Carolina on Sept. 11.
Hutchinson Cut The Chicago Bears released quarterback Chad Hutchinson, the failed former starter in Dallas who temporarily inherited the Bears' starting job when Rex Grossman suffered a broken ankle during the preseason.
But Hutchinson's poor play prompted Coach Lovie Smith to hand the starting job to rookie Kyle Orton, and Hutchinson was dropped behind Jeff Blake and Kurt Kittner on the depth chart. . . .
Giants quarterback Eli Manning tentatively is scheduled to resume practicing on Monday. He has tested his sprained elbow with throwing sessions for three straight days, including one in full pads Tuesday. Manning sent his MRI results to orthopedist James Andrews for a second opinion and was reassured the injury isn't serious. . . .
Cowboys Coach Bill Parcells all but named Tony Romo the team's backup to starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe, saying during his news conference Tuesday that Romo is "more functional" than fellow reserve Drew Henson. Parcells said that Henson is "not ready." . . . The Cowboys claimed kicker Nick Novak, a rookie from the University of Maryland, off waivers from the Bears. Novak is to compete with Jose Cortez for the Cowboys' kicking job. . . .
The New England Patriots released kick returner Chad Morton and cornerback Hank Poteat, among others. . . .
Tampa Bay released veteran running back Charlie Garner. The Buccaneers are deep at tailback with prized rookie Carnell (Cadillac) Williams joining Michael Pittman and Earnest Graham, and releasing Garner cleared $800,000 in salary-cap space. . . .
The Minnesota Vikings placed center Matt Birk on the injured reserve list, ending his season because of an ailing hip. The Vikings, beset by injuries at running back, claimed tailback ReShard Lee off waivers. He was waived by Buffalo over the weekend. . . .
Cincinnati signed linebacker Hannibal Navies, who'd been released by Green Bay, and safety Ifeanyi Ohalete, who'd been cut by Arizona. Ohalete replaces Kim Herring, who was placed on the IR list after suffering a season-ending shoulder injury during last week's loss at Philadelphia. . . .
The Colts agreed on lease terms with the city of Indianapolis. The new lease keeps the team in the city for at least the next 30 years, with a $500 million retractable-roof stadium scheduled to open in the 2008 season. . . .
Colts linebacker Kendyll Pope was suspended by the NFL, although the specifics of the suspension were not immediately announced.
Warrick, Price in Demand
Wide receiver Peter Warrick, cut by Cincinnati, is scheduled to visit Seattle today. He also has visits with the Buccaneers and Giants lined up. . . .
The Seahawks, Patriots, Cowboys and Eagles apparently are among the teams interested in wideout Peerless Price, who was released by Atlanta. Price struggled as the would-be No. 1 receiver for the Falcons but before that was a standout as the No. 2 option in Buffalo alongside Eric Moulds. That makes him an intriguing possibility for the Eagles as a possible complement to Terrell Owens. Philadelphia's other starting wide receiver, Todd Pinkston, had his season ended before it even started when he suffered a ruptured Achilles' tendon in training camp.
The Eagles, at least for now, have Greg Lewis starting alongside Owens, with rookie Reggie Brown as the third receiver. . . .
Baltimore, Kansas City, Buffalo, Seattle, San Francisco, Miami and the Giants are among the teams pursuing defensive tackle Corey Simon, who became a free agent when the Eagles lifted their franchise-player tag from him over the weekend.