Brett Favre's football journey reached its pinnacle on Saturday night. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, a deserving honor for an iconic player who has captivated us for a quarter-century -- including a blip-on-the-screen season with the New York Jets in 2008.
A few personal thoughts:
After a bitter divorce from the Green Bay Packers, Favre agreed to be traded to the Jets for the wrong reasons. He was motivated by ego and spite, wanting to show the Packers he still had magic in that famous right arm. It was a marriage of convenience. Favre needed a team at age 39; the Jets needed hope.
Favre was terrific for 11 games, helping the Jets to an 8-3 start. He entertained with his gunslinger mentality and country-boy charm. I'll never forget his first practice at Hofstra. About 10,000 showed up on a Sunday afternoon in August, roughly 9,000 more than normal, and they went absolutely bonkers when Favre walked on the field. Bruce Springsteen's "Glory Days" played from the sideline speakers, creating a goose-bump moment. It was surreal; it was like seeing a bronze bust from Canton come to life under a summer sun.
For days, maybe weeks, the back pages were dominated by Favre. After his second or third practice, he complained of a sore arm.
Another day, he flubbed a snap and was forced by then-coach Eric Mangini to run a penalty lap. The crowd roared, and within minutes his lap was on YouTube. This was back when social media was in its infancy, so it was a thing at the time.
And, of course, it made the back page.
By the end of the season Favre was physical wreck, his rifle arm reduced to a pop gun. He played with a biceps injury, which required surgery after the season. The Jets hid the injury, resulting in stiff fines from the NFL.
With Favre throwing batting-practice fastballs, the team collapsed down the stretch, missing the playoffs. He didn't seem too broken up about it. He was a ultimate hired gun, never giving the impression he was fully invested in the team. He "retired" after the season, but no one believed him. He returned to play for the Minnesota Vikings, which allowed him to visit his old turf, Lambeau Field. That was his end-game all along; the Jets were just a one-year detour.
Favre's legacy with the Jets will be the sordid sexting scandal with a team game-day hostess that resulted in a $50,000 fine by the NFL. So I don't think he will be waxing nostalgic about the Jets during his Hall of Fame speech.
The Jets went all in that year, bringing in Favre, Alan Faneca (a Hall of Fame finalist), Kris Jenkins and Damien Woody. As usual, they came up short, but it was darn entertaining for a while.