Saturday, August 9, 2008

A whiter shade of green

Of all the teams I thought Brett Favre would be playing for this year, the New York Jets were not in the top five.

Favre’s trade to the Jets was a dramatic left turn to the saga that has dominated the NFL pre-season. It seems incongruous—a good ol’ boy from southern Mississippi moving to the big city—but I suppose no more so that the same person playing on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field for 16 years.

The big money to be made in New York was obviously a factor in Favre’s decision, as it was in Alan Faneca’s decision to jump ship from the Pittsburgh Steelers. Which is just fine, as long as you don’t check out the cost of living in New York City too closely.

The precedent for a top NFL quarterback moving to another team late in his career is not good. As ESPN’s John Clayton has pointed out, Johnny Unitas, Joe Namath and Warren Moon did not fare well moving to other teams in the twilight of their careers. Only Joe Montana has made the transition without tarnishing his legacy.

It remains to be seen if Favre has one more year in him. I have been fooled before. I thought he was through after the Packers went 4-12 in 2006, but he keeps coming back, sort of like The Terminator did at the end of the first movie.

If he wanted to play one more season, good for him. I started rooting for the old guys in sports years ago. But you have to question the way he went about this comeback.

He started to tell the media weeks ago that he wanted to come back to the Packers. By that time, the Packers had already begun building their offense around Aaron Rodgers. Did he expect them to drop everything and change plans just to bring him back?

He waffled on reinstatement until last week and built a mystique around the question of whether he would play, to the point where ESPN began adding updates labeled “FAVRE” on a crawl at the bottom of the screen. MLB…NFL…NBA…FAVRE. He really was in a league of his own.

The trade did not end the media circus, as Favre has moved to the country’s biggest media center. Through the miracle of web radio, I caught a bit of the morning show on WFAN the other day. The topic--will Favre be the greatest QB ever to take a snap in a Jets jersey? Probably, as his only real competition for that title is Namath. (OK, who’s the wise guy who voted for Kellen Clemens?) The question would make for great sports-bar debate—but let’s let Favre take that snap first.

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