Clemens steps back for the throw
The news of Brett Favre's retirement moved northward from Mississippi and appeared on a small television screen inside the Jets' palatial weightroom in Florham Park, N.J.
Hard at work on a treadmill, Kellen Clemens had his set tuned to ESPN. And on this February morning, America's most famous sports channel transformed into TFN — The Favre Network.
Even though Clemens hadn't paid too much attention to the recent media speculation regarding Favre's future, he wouldn't have been human if he hadn't wondered himself.
"It's kind of funny," Clemens told newyorkjets.com this afternoon. "Nicole [his wife] and I had a conversation about it last night. I said, 'We'll just wait. He'll make his decision when it's right and in my opinion he's earned the right to make a decision when he wants to make a decision.' "
Clemens, who had his bid to become the Jets' 2008 starter end on Aug. 6 when the Jets acquired Favre from the Green Bay Packers, served primarily as a Green & White backup for the second time in his three pro seasons. He attempted five passes but mostly watched one of his boyhood idols — a player he imagined being when he grew up on his Burns, Ore., farm — at the offensive controls.
"I had a chance to be in meetings with him and on the plane trips. It was a really unique opportunity," Clemens said. "I think over the course of the year and all the time we spent together, we became friends. Then you actually get to know more of Brett Favre behind the scenes, and obviously the things he did on the field this year and throughout his career speak for themselves, but he's even a better person than he is a player."
So as Favre's Jets tour comes to an abrupt end, the Jets have an immediate opening at starting quarterback. Clemens, no stranger to quarterback competitions, again will enter his name into the hat.
"There is going to be a competition and I'm going to be a part of it and that's all I care about. I'm going to get an opportunity and I've put in the time, I've put in the work and I have the experience," he said. "I feel very confident in my ability to capitalize on that opportunity."
The 6'2", 223-pound Clemens, who won't turn 26 until June, started eight games in his second season, winning three, and has appeared in 12 games during his career. He's completed 52 percent of his 256 passes for 1,529 yards with five TDs and 10 INTs.
A strong-armed passer with good mobility, Clemens will get a long look. Drafted in the second round (No. 49 overall) in 2006, the U. of Oregon product envisions the next step now that Favre has exited. He'll have to outperform Brett Ratliff and there is a possibility the Jets will add a free agent or draft pick to the mix.
Now off the treadmill, Kellen Clemens has the potential to make a major professional move.
"It's go time. I'm excited. I have so much respect for Brett and on the one hand I'm not going to get to watch one of my heroes play on Sundays anymore, there's that feeling," he said. "But at the same time — there it is. It's sitting on the table, its right there. Go get it."