The Brett Favre era of Jets football is over almost be-4 it began.
Favre, who came out of retirement to try his Hall of Fame hand at running an offense other than the Packers' for the first time in 17 seasons, called owner Woody Johnson and general manager Mike Tannenbaum this morning. And his agent, Bus Cook, sent along an email as reported by ESPN. The message from both was the same: Favre is retiring after one season with the Jets.
The great No. 4 experiment looked like a smashing success through 11 games. It didn't produce the desired results through a December downturn. The debates will now rage again, as they did back on Aug. 6 when it was learned that Favre would become the Jets' starting QB and Chad Pennington would be gone. Was it worth it? What's next?
I can't answer those questions. I couldn't even answer it if I weren't sitting here as a Jets employee at the Atlantic Health Training Center overlooking the turf field and the three (now soggy) grass practice fields on which Favre and this year's Jets got to know each other beginning Sept. 1.
I hated to see Chad leave. But I thought if anyone could do this thing, it would be Brett Favre. It was a tall order to ask any QB, even someone near Super-human as Favre, to learn a new offense in a month and lead a team to the playoffs. But the order was on the way to being filled as everyone noticed after the phenomenal win at Tennessee. And then the order was canceled with the 1-4 finish and no postseason berth.
Through it all there were delightful moments from the man from Kiln, Miss. The 56-yarder touchdown laser to Jerricho Cotchery on his fourth throw as a Jet. The six TD passes against the to-be-Super Cardinals to tie the franchise record set by a guy named Namath. The game-winning strike to Laveranues Coles with one minute to go to beat the Chiefs. Leading the best three-game road streak in franchise history in the wins at Buffalo, New England and Tennessee to crest at 8-3.
Owner Woody Johnson just said on his conference call with reporters today that the trade for Favre "was the best chance we had to do better by bringing Brett to the team. For the first 11 games it looked pretty good. It looked like we were moving along."
I also saw the looseness and levity Favre brought to the Jets' locker room that is so important for a team leader to introduce into the serious endeavors of building a formidable team. There was the airhorn he'd sound from behind the equipment room door to shake up his teammates and reporters. Ditto for the six-foot python — rubber, of course — that hung in his locker.
On the team plane to road games, players and staff find their seats via names taped to the seatbacks. And as the players filed off the plane after a flight, there was Favre, like a fun-loving schoolkid, plucking one of those nametags off a seat and deftly slipping it onto the back of the guy in front of him.
All that being said, the Jets didn't do what they wanted to do, planned to do this season, and so there is a feeling of emptiness today as Favre exits with just one season under his green belt.
Yet one thing that GM Mike Tannenbaum said during the year that resonates to me now is that, like draft picks and programs under construction, it would be shortsighted to judge Favre's impact based on just one season. Perhaps a defensive player says next season after a big win that No. 4's fire crossed the line of scrimmage to pump him up and still stays with him to this day. Maybe one of the three QBs still on the Jets roster, Kellen Clemens, Brett Ratliff or Erik Ainge, says after leading the team on a multigame winning streak, that the lessons he learned from Favre were invaluable to him seizing the reins of the Jets' offense.
Johnson reminded on the conference call that the holdover QBs "had an extra year with probably the best quarterback ever, so that's a great learning experience for all of them."
However history judges, it was good having No. 4 around, even if only for '08, and his influence will linger on as head coach Rex Ryan refashions a new era of Jets football.
Favre Media Day
Brett Favre is expected to check in with Jets reporters via a conference call at 6 p.m. EST today. If you want to listen in, we are planning to stream the call from newyorkjets.com live and then archive the call so it is available for replay from our multimedia home page.
We also plan to stream and then archive conference calls with Kellen Clemens at 4 p.m. and with head coach Rex Ryan at 5:15 p.m.
Sportsnet New York (SNY) has scheduled a Favre retirement special for 4:30 p.m. today, during which Clemens will also chat with Steve Overmyer, the network's Jets reporter. And SNY's "Daily News Live" will have a one-on-one chat between Overmyer and GM Mike Tannenbaum.
Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has a scheduled interview on 1050 ESPN-AM Radio today at 5 p.m. and will be appearing as as part of "Wheelhouse" about 5:45 p.m.