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Brett the Jet's 'Excited About the Opportunity'


The Brett Favre media circus pulled into what all involved hope was its last showing, in a small, airless interview room in the bowels of Cleveland Browns Stadium.

And Favre as ringmaster didn't disappoint. Wearing a gray T-shirt, tan cargo shorts and a white baseball cap bearing his new insignia, a dark green NY, he boarded the platform flanked by Jets owner Woody Johnson and GM Mike Tannenbaum.

Told that about 3,000 Green & White No. 4 jerseys had already been sold on **, he smiled and said, "That's all?" Later he said, "I've never looked forward to a conditioning test as much as I am this one," adding with a Favrean wink, "I'm taking it tomorrow."

But the lightness was only a counterpoint to the message Favre had to the group of 40 perspiring media members, representing New York, Wisconsin and national news outlets: After all the twists and turns, he's ready to take on this newest challenge in his Hall of Fame career, as the Jets' starting quarterback.

"The last 24 hours have been crazy," Favre said. "Really, the last two weeks, three weeks, the whole off-season have been bizarre, whatever you want to call it.

"Did I ever think this scenario would present itself? No. Am I excited about the opportunity? Yes."

Favre credited Tannenbaum, looking as if he'd had two hours of sleep in the last two days, with closing the trade talks with the Packers that brought the Jets the legendary, record-setting, award-winning QB after his celebrated falling-out with the Packers. In fact, he said he didn't want to talk to Mike T for the longest time because he knew Tannenbaum would be persuasive enough to make his next decision as difficult as possible.

And he was right. In the end Favre was swayed by the young GM's determination to give him more than enough information and emotion to make a trade to the Jets rather than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a slam-dunk.

"Mike's a worker," he said. "I woke up this morning and the trigger was pulled."

Many Jets fans and reporters and NFL analysts have their questions about what Favre's gotten himself into, how much of the Jets' offensive system he can pick up in 31 days before the season opener at Miami, how he'll fit in. But he made it clear he's not here wearing Green & White rather than his Green & Gold of the previous 16 seasons to stand out from his new crowd.

"The guys in that locker room, I know some of those guys by name and I know Bubba Franks personally," he said. "When I get to know these guys, they'll like me. It's about the team. ... I'm just one man, one of 53. We'll see what happens, but I'm excited about the opportunity."

Favre already began the bonding of process after flying in to a small Cleveland airport near the stadium. His 6 p.m. news conference got started a half-hour late because he was meeting with head coach Eric Mangini behind closed doors.

After the event concluded, he was out on the field during the Jets' final warmups, chatting up WR Laveranues Coles along with coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. And he stood on the sidelines during the first half of the Jets-Browns preseason opener wearing a new white jersey with "JETS" on the front and holding the contents of what would normally go on a clipboard.

Then after a long rain and lightning delay, as the Jets warmed up again on the field, Favre was captured played pitch-and-catch with talented Jets equipment man Cortez Robinson.

Another concern of fans and media was if Favre would be one-and-done with the Jets as it so often seemed he was with the Packers once they got to the off-season. As the news conference broke up, one beatwriter, channeling Sam Donaldson, shouted at the departing QB, "Is this a one-year commitment, Brett? Is this a one-year commitment?"

To which Favre said over his shoulder, "We'll see."

Johnson, wearing a white open-collared dress shirt and charcoal slacks with no jacket, spoke of his commitment to wanting to improve the Jets each and ever year, but in that context spoke highly of Chad Pennington, who was released by the team earlier in the afternoon and flew back from Cleveland to New York to clean out his Hofstra University training camp dorm room.

""This is difficult with Chad in particular," Johnson said. "Chad came in the same year I did {2000]. He has dogged, team-oriented persistence. Thanks to Chad. Now today we're here to talk about what we're going to do going forward."

Tannenbaum, in blue blazer and open-necked sportshirt, repeated his praise of Pennington from his 1 a.m. conference call less than 18 hours earlier, but also looked to the future.

"The decision was made between Eric, myself and Mr. Johnson," he said. "We felt we were getting good play at the quarterback position. We thought this was a chance to improve on that. We did a lot of research. And we're excited and really happy that Brett is a member of this team."

Favre himself couldn't help but note a bit of vertigo at these sudden developments. Perhaps some was brought on by a day of flights, for him and Tannenbaum to Mississippi to visit his home in Kiln, then back to Morristown Municipal Airport in New Jersey for what turned out to be an aerial tour in Johnson's helicopter of the Jets' new Atlantic Health Training Facility, then a short hop to Teterboro for the last leg of the trip to Cleveland.

"I haven't faced anything like this," he said. "I don't know anyone in this locker room. To a certain degree, I really don't know what I'm getting into.

"But what I can do in a short amount of time is get this team ready and get myself ready to go. I'm not here to do commercials or Broadway. I'm here to help the Jets win."

That will be the ultimate test of this period of Favre frenzy. But the vibe for the coming weeks and months is definitely good.

Hanson Gets It Done

NFL Network reporter Scott Hanson did a standup job, in more ways than one, filling time in front of the cramped interview room for the network. He offered his own observations and interspersed them with interviews with Mark Cannizzaro of the New York Post, Rich Cimini of the Daily News and a truncated exchange with Sports Illustrated's Peter King before the news conference began a half-hour after its scheduled start.

At one point Hanson turned a beautiful alliterative phrase, saying, "There are some crestfallen cheeseheads back in Wisconsin" at the Favre developments.

Is this praise of Hanson a payback for his mentioning glowingly in terms of the number of hits and visitors we've received in the last 48 hours or the No. 4 Green & White jerseys that we're selling on our home page? Nah.

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