Ryan Longwell was in disbelief.
After spending 11 seasons with Brett Favre, nine in Green Bay and two in Minnesota, Longwell, a long-time NFL place-kicker, had seen his friend play through countless injuries that turned body parts black and blue, a bitter divorce from Green Bay and his father's death, yet always yearn for that next snap under center.
But Favre was broken. The 2010 season with the Minnesota Vikings was among the most exhausting of his professional career.
A shoulder injury ended his historic streak of 297 consecutive starts in Week 13. He faced an NFL investigation into allegations that he had sent inappropriate messages to a former Jets employee while playing in New York two years earlier.
Two weeks after the shoulder injury, Chicago Bears defensive end Corey Wootton slammed Favre's head to the frozen turf at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, causing a concussion and ending Favre's career for good. Favre had attempted to retire multiple times in the past, including a formal announcement in March 2008, but always returned. This time, there was no debate. He was done.
In a private moment at the team facility later that year, Longwell apologized to his friend. After all, Longwell, along with teammates Steve Hutchinson and Jared Allen, had flown to Favre's home in Kiln, Mississippi, mid-training camp, begging him to return for a 20th season.
For the first time, Longwell saw a sense of relief in the Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback.
"I said, 'I'm so sorry I put you through this,' and he basically said, 'This was the best thing that could ever happen to me. It finally put closure on my career,'" Longwell said. "There was no more what if."
Favre's trials set a tone for one of the strangest seasons by an NFL team in recent memory.
The 2010 Vikings had everything:
A stadium roof collapse
The NFL's first Tuesday night game since 1946
The trade for wide receiver Randy Moss, who was released 27 days later after bizarre news conferences and insulting a local restaurant, Tinucci's, inside the locker room
A frozen night of football in an ill-equipped college stadium
The fall of coach Brad Childress, who helped build a dominant roster but had trouble managing it
And a Crown Royal-drunken night in Philly to drown the sorrows
Several coaches and players have joked that they need to write a book about that season.
"You couldn't write this in a script and have people believe it," said former Vikings linebacker Ben Leber, now an analyst for Vikings Entertainment Network. "Each week, you'd say, 'Holy s---, let's add this chapter to the book.'"
Saturday marks the 10-year anniversary of the 20-inch snowstorm ripping a hole through the Metrodome roof, which was a good excuse to revisit this wild season. So, players and coaches who lived those chapters told their stories to ESPN.