Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Trade

In a stunning turn of events, the Green Bay Packers have traded quarterback Brett Favre to the New York Jets.

Favre is a future Hall-of-Famer, winner of Super Bowl XXXI, the only three-time MVP of the National Football League, and holds every major NFL passing record. The New York Jets are . . . . well, the New York Jets.

Personally, I think Favre can be overrated as a quarterback, and I get sick of the hype over him from a disgustingly fawning sports media who think the guy can walk on water. But I have to admit, I actually let out quite a laugh when I heard the news last night. It all seems so improbable.

For one thing, I was totally shocked that the Jets managed to pull off the trade. I didn't think they had the tenacity, or would be wiling to spend the money, to accomplish such a feat. As of yesterday afternoon, reports were coming out that Favre would probably go to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Evidently, the Jets made a final bid in the middle of the night (literally - the news broke around midnight.)

Whatever the soap opera of the last month between Favre and the Packers, from a purely practical standpoint, the guy immediately gives the Jets a better quarterback than either Chad Pennington and Kellen Clemens, the two choices they had for the coming season. And they really didn't give up that much to get him. If he plays more than 50% of the season, they give up a 3rd-round draft pick next year. If he plays 70% of the time and the Jets make the playoffs, they give up a 2nd round pick. If they actually make the Super Bowl, they give up a 1st round pick.

Will the Jets make the Super Bowl with Favre? Very unlikely. After going 4-12 last year, I'd be happy to see them go 8-8 and stay in the wild card hunt for most of the season. Though Favre may be overrated, the guy did have one of his best seasons last year, and I think he can still play at a fairly high level. Also, after what went down with Green Bay, the revenge factor - the "I'll show you I can still play" factor - may be a good motivator.

Favre can be a drama queen. And personally, I thought he should've stayed retired. But, hey, if he wants to play football, and the Packers don't want him, I welcome him to the black hole of the New York Jets. We'll see if his greatness and stature as a player are any match for the long, sad and psychologically twisted history of Gang Green.

Whatever the outcome of the season, Favre is one of those rare athletes whose obvious love of playing football makes watching him a lot of fun. (Except, of course, when he's throwing those terrible interceptions in key moments.) One of my favorite football moments ever was watching him play in the snow against the Seattle Seahawks in last year's divisional playoffs. (Sorry, my Seahawks fan.) His youthful enthusiasm took me back to my own childhood and the sheer exhilaration and enjoyment of play.

Sadly, his arrival means the immediate departure of Chad Pennington, who will be released by 4 PM today. There are few professional football players I've admired on a personal level as much as Pennington. The man suffered two serious shoulder injuries, one of which would've been enough to end the careers of most players, but through hard work, determination and a great attitude, he came back and continued to play. When his father suffered a major heart attack, Pennington slept on a chair in the hospital room on his off-days during the season. He's one of the most intelligent, likable and quality players in football. Despite tremendous adversity, he always seemed hopeful, and in a realistic, determined way. But as much as I liked him as a person, he wasn't the answer for the Jets at quarterback. I'm sorry he's leaving the team, and I hope he lands in a good situation somewhere else.

Broadway Joe Namath's sad end in LA

The NFL is full of sad tales of great players who should've retired sooner and wound up on other teams at the end of their careers. I think immediately of the most famous Jets quarterback, Joe Namath, who spent one last pathetic season on the Los Angeles Rams. Or Johnny Unitas, considered by many to be the greatest quarterback of all time, in a dismal final season in San Diego, after 17 years with the Baltimore Colts.

On the other hand, Joe Montana, after 13 seasons and three Super Bowl victories with the San Francisco 49ers, played his last two years for the Kansas City Chiefs and led them to the AFC Championship Game.

Though he's 38 years-old, I think Favre is in better shape than most of the players in these sad stories. Namath was hobbling around on knee braces at the end of his time in New York. Favre, on the other hand, holds the NFL record for Most Consecutive Starts by a Quarterback at 253 games, a truly amazing feat. To give you an idea of the significance of that number, the previous record - held by Eagles' quarterback Ron Jaworski - was only 116 consecutive games. Favre is also playing better late in his career than either Namath or Unitas were before they were traded. Unitas was already riding the bench by the time he went to San Diego.

It's a strange situation, and I'm not sure how a self-admitted "country boy" like Brett Favre is going to deal with the bright lights of New York, not to mention the crazy and often brutal media scrutiny. The fact that the Jets don't really play in the city, and that the new team headquarters will open in New Jersey at the end of the month, appealed to Favre. There are woods and hunting in New Jersey, which, from one report, did bring him some comfort.

Favre will be 39 in October. He's gone to a team that went 4-12 last year. And he's suddenly having to learn a new system. Things may not go very smoothly. (But, then, they never do for the Jets. So what did they have to lose?) All in all, it should be fascinating to see how the story unfolds. I know one thing, my interest in the coming season, which was pretty low before last night, has suddenly increased.

Favre's coming to the Jets!


Jeff said...

Oh, my Lord in heaven.

I was already thoroughly sick and tired of this guy, and now I have to see him twice a year! Oh well. At least we should see some great shootouts in the AFC East this year. Even if Brett can't bring it quite the same way anymore at 39, he still has leadership qualities. He'll at least make the Jets better for that.

Ditto on all that you said about Pennington. He was a class act, and all heart.

Don't forget the Tuna in Miami this year, too. That'll add some more spice to the AFC East mix, for sure.

The only satisfaction I get out of this is the demolition of the idolatry over Favre in Milwaukee and Green Bay. 25 million bucks couldn't keep the 2nd Incarnation of God from playing elsewhere.

Liam said...

Well, that's good, because Santana can't do it all by himself. Pedro still needs to get his sea legs back. Pelfrey and Perez are doing okay, but with El Duque out for the season, it will be good to have a veteran starter and Favre's arm is good...


Wrong sport.

Isn't it baseball season now, you communist?

cowboyangel said...


Yeah, it's funny, I can't say I was sitting around wishing the Jets would pick up Brett Favre. Last season I actually sent a few nasty emails to ESPN and ABC regarding their disgustingly over-the-top idolization of the guy. It was too much.

Having said that, I do think he's an improvement at QB, even at 38. I feel a little better facing you guys this year with Favre at the helm. I hope we get some good Brady-Favre shootouts.

And, yes, Miami will be improved. Though I'm not convinced that Parcells is as good as he and others think he is.

The only satisfaction I get out of this is the demolition of the idolatry over Favre in Milwaukee and Green Bay.

I wouldn't be so sure of that. From what I've read and heard, there are different camps. For all of the fans who can't wait to see Brett go, I think there are just as many who believe the Pack treated him badly. If they don't have a good year, and Rodgers doesn't really impress, the Gm and coach may not be long in Wisconsin.

It's all a little weird, if you ask me. I mean, the guy took them to the NFC Championship game last year and was 2nd in the vote for NFL MVP. He had a pretty good year. Why do you so quickly move beyond a player like that for a QB who's never started a game? Leaving aside all of the emotional elements - which, obviously, Favre and the Packers couldn't do - from a football standpoint, the situation didn't make sense to me.

But, hey, I'll take it.

cowboyangel said...


I don't know what you're talking about. The only New York baseball news I've heard about involves Joba and Pudge. Are you sure you're talking about New York City?

El Duque? Are you kidding me? Is he still around? Goodness - next you'll be talking about Darrell Strawberry.

Isn't it baseball season now, you communist?

All I know is that the New York Jets play the Cleveland Browns tonight at 7:30 in the first pre-season game of the year.

Liam said...

Really? Who's the QB for the Jets? Pennington, even though he's leaving? Favre, even though he just signed up and hasn't practiced with the team yet?

Maybe I should do it. I can throw a football.

cowboyangel said...

I've always thought you'd make a great QB. Tall, strong, intelligent.... Hell, if I weren't married, I'd ask you out. But I don't think you have the passion for the game that would be necessary to offer up your body to be crushed and obliterated by 350-pound linemen. Though, I'm sure a few million a year would ease the pain.

Favre is going to Cleveland to be with the team. But I'm sure Kellen Clemens will start the game tonight. He was, before last night, officially the starter. I'm sure there are a couple of rookie and free agent QBs trying to make the team - they'll stick them in the last two quarters. With Pennington gone, they might sign a low-priced 3rd string guy. I haven't been paying enough attention to know who that might be.

cowboyangel said...

Do the Mets really have any chance this year? They seem to be doing slightly better than they were before. 2.5 out of first. How's their bullpen? Seems I remember you cursing one of their relievers on Facebook recently, no?

Liam said...

350-pound lineman, dissertation committee, what's the difference?

The Mets have always got a chance, given how much they're paid. They won today on a two-run homer by David Wright in the bottom of the ninth. They're playing much better now, but they have injury and bullpen issues. They're in second place in the NL East right now.

Garpu said...

I think some days I'd rather take the 350 pound lineman, myself.