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Favre doesn’t have near the global stature that Woods does, and they also differ in their background.

Part of Favre’s attraction to fans was the way he faced up to his past problems and overcame persistent personal tragedies to succeed on the field. His otherworldly performance the day after his dad died of a heart attack was one of the NFL’s most memorable games of the past decade.

“Tiger had a very carefully crafted pristine image that at least to the outside made him look like perfect,” Gordon said. “With Favre, people are fans of his play but he’s never had a perfect reputation.”

Favre spent the summer before the 1996 season in a rehab clinic to treat his painkiller addiction, and he has revealed his frequent drinking and carousing early in his career. Both he and his wife, Deanna, have published tell-all books about their ups and downs. They’ve been married 14 years.

Favre has had his detractors, whether people fed up with his waffling about playing and a perceived egotism behind it or simply Packers backers angry about his signing-with-the-Vikings betrayal. His popularity was widespread, however, transcending his days as a three-time NFL MVP in Green Bay. According to the league, his jersey was the third-best online seller on NFLShop.com over the period from April 1 through Sept. 30.

And according to the business analysts at Forbes.com, Favre made about $7 million last year alone from endorsements. He’s done all kinds of advertisements over his career, from credit cards to those famed blue jeans.

Favre also was recently featured by Sears in a spot poking fun at his indecisive tendencies as he pretends to hem and haw over which TV he wants to buy. Spokesman Tom Aiello said the series was intended solely for the 2009 season and that the company is not working with him currently.

Favre’s agent, Bus Cook, did not return messages this week.

As much as he’s clearly enjoyed the attention and the praise over the years, Favre has also brought a chip-on-his-shoulder kind of defiance to his football career. Asked last year after arriving in Minnesota what his response was to all the people critical of his wavering, Favre shot back, “Don’t watch.”

But news about the back-and-forth over retirement usually just causes eyes to roll at the worst. Stories like this, even if proved to be false, typically bring far stronger reactions and true backlash.

His Vikings teammates haven’t wavered, at least publicly, in their support of him. Asked whether he believes Favre concerns himself with external perceptions at this point in his career, particularly in light of the current scandal, kicker Ryan Longwell shrugged off the potential negative effect on his performance.

“Well, I think we all do to a certain level, but at the same time the public’s going to think the way they think and reporters are going to write what they want,” said Longwell, who also played alongside Favre with the Packers. “So as much as we do think about it and care about it, ultimately I have to make kicks and he has to play quarterback.”