(Long Island, NY) What started with an impromptu press conference last August in Cleveland and ended in a conference call on Wednesday can be summed up in one word – disappointing. When Brett Favre was introduced as the Jets new quarterback prior to the opening of the team’s exhibition schedule against the Browns, the air was filled with hope and visions of him celebrating in a different green jersey than the familiar number four that he wore for 16 mostly highly successful seasons in Green Bay.
What a difference seven months makes.
None of this should have come as a major surprise due to the eroding skills and physical condition of a soon-to-be 40 year-old player in a league where the average career last four seasons. In total, Favre played 18 years and will be a sure first ballot Hall of Famer in five years when he becomes eligible.
Perhaps the Favre of old was who Jets owner Woody Johnson and general manager Mike Tennenbaum thought they were getting when they made the trade, but after a very frustrating season, the end result was that they merely acquired an old Favre. But Tannenbaum did not see it that way.
“When we acquired Brett, we knew we would get everything he had,” he said in a statement. “He took the time to mentor young players and his competiveness and enthusiasm at practice and during games was contagious. I spoke with him (this morning) and told him that he will be a friend of the Jets for years to come and it was an honor to work with him.”
Many fans and even reporters that follow the team through every snap may not totally agree with Tannenbaum’s view. During the conference call, one question that came up was if Favre felt if he was a distraction to the team.
“I honestly believe it was more of a positive than a negative,” answered Favre. “I wish we would have gone to the playoffs. There was a point in the season where we all thought that and they (the media) were talking (a) Giants-Jets Super Bowl. It was plenty of talk. It wasn’t all that bad.”
Yes, bringing in a player of Favre’s caliber and popularity was a shrewd front office and public relations move, especially for a team coming off a 4-12 season and in the process of selling Personal Seat Licenses for their new joint venture stadium project with the Giants. Add to that the fact that Tannenbaum went out and made vast improvements to the team via trades, free agency and the NFL Draft. In their eyes, Chad Pennington had taken them as far as he could and they needed a stronger-armed gunslinger to take it to the next level.
No need to remind anyone what happened in that last regular season game against Pennington’s new club, the Miami Dolphins, who went from a one-win team to the AFC East division championship with their new quarterback at the helm.
The Jets? They finished out of the money with a deceiving 9-7 record, which included a 1-4 mark in their last five games. Favre took much of the blame with only two touchdown passes versus nine interceptions during that span, and to his credit, didn’t run and hide when the going got tough.
An injury that he described as pain coming from his right shoulder wasn’t revealed until after the last game and a subsequent MRI showed that Favre had a torn bicep. “It actually started (hurting) probably when I started throwing back in the summer,” he said. “Ever so slight and not very often but just enough that I’d just wrote it off as just old age or whatever. Each week, just with wear and tear, it progressively (became worse) and I’m not a doctor, but I think, as the season progressed, it would tear just a little bit (more).”
By Favre retiring, the Jets have given their salary cap a much-needed relief of the $13 million he was to receive in 2009. Although both Johnson and Tannenbaum publicly stated that they wanted Favre to return, the most sensible business decision is him retiring. A banged-up old quarterback with a bad wing is not a recipe for success, even if that person happens to be Favre.
Choosing not to try to repair the injury via surgery and go through rehabilitation for it, Favre feels that this is finally the end of the road for him, even though he has changed his mind in the past about retiring.
“I’m sure because I have family and friends (saying), ‘All right Brett, is this the real deal?’ It is, believe me. It’s been a wonderful career. I couldn’t ask for anything more. It was worth a shot for me to go to New York. I wish I could have played better down the stretch. I didn’t and it’s time to leave.”
Just like the old saying, ‘Too little, too late,’ that seems to be a good summary of the Brett Favre era for the Jets, one that began with much promise and ended with a phone call.