NFL Nation: Favre retires 09
|Highlights of the best moments from Brett Favre in 2008.|
Favre didn't reveal who the likeliest candidate would be out of Kellen Clemens, Brett Ratliff and Erik Ainge. The legendary quarterback did, however, agree that one of them would prove to be good enough.
"One of those three is very capable of leading that team," Favre said Wednesday night on a conference call. "I really, truly believe that. I was impressed with all three. They all have different styles, but I think those three guys can be very productive given the chance."
Favre was asked what his backups might have gleaned from him in the season they spent together.
"More than anything, leadership is not spoken. It's more action," Favre said. "I'm trying to bring some enthusiasm, some fun along with my work ethic and preparation, but also be open to anything.
"Those guys will be the first to tell you, if they ever asked me a question I was more than willing to help out and just be a regular guy."
|Evan Pinkus/Getty Images|
|Brett Favre looks back on his season with the Jets as a positive.|
Their playoff hopes bombed with Favre, and not the way they wanted to see Favre and bomb in the same sentence. The head coach lost his job. Jets running back Thomas Jones and safety Kerry Rhodes made postmortem comments that suggested resentment over Favre.
Now the Jets need a quarterback.
Five months after the team dared to bring Favre aboard, he announced his re-retirement. He came to the conclusion his right arm doesn't have what it takes anymore.
I asked Favre on a conference call Wednesday night how much he thought he disrupted the Jets as a franchise.
"I believe that it was more of a positive than a negative. I really believe that," Favre said. "I think anyone out there who followed this had to figure there was a chance I would last one year and be done. I thought one year and done would not be based on anything physical, but that was the case.
"I wish we could have gone to the playoffs. There was a point in the season they were talking 'Hey, Giants-Jets in the Super Bowl.' So it wasn't all that bad. More than anything, leadership qualities, the way I handled myself was a positive."
Favre's decision to come out of retirement was selfish. He had something to prove to the Green Bay Packers, general manager Ted Thompson in particular.
"I'm human just like anyone else," Favre said. "Maybe part of me was fueled by maybe the wrong reasons."
But Favre's time in Gotham wasn't a complete waste. Although the mission was unaccomplished and the experiment set the franchise back, the Jets got their money's worth.
The Jets sold crates of No. 4 jerseys and tickets. He thrilled the fans at a critical economic time, with the Jets trying to sell personal seat licenses for their new stadium. He put the Jets on the back pages of the New York newspapers and took the fans on one hell of a ride -- albeit one that T-boned the postseason on-ramp.
"I went into New York no differently than I went to Green Bay," Favre said. "I had every intention of leading that team to wins. I did everything I could possibly do on and off the field.
"Honestly, I don't know if there was anything to get out of my system. I think I got my answer as the season progressed. I said 'OK, I can't throw the ball the way I want to throw it.' That more than anything was telling to me."
Just got off a teleconference with newly retired quarterback Brett Favre, who left very little room for the change of heart many are assuming would occur. Favre said the biggest factor in his decision was the condition of his right shoulder, which he said needs a surgical procedure he wasn't willing to have.
Favre did acknowledge the elephant in the room, jokingly telling a reporter: "I have no reason to wonder why you would be skeptical." Favre said it would be "tempting" to consider a return if he somehow recovered on his own, but he seems convinced the shoulder wouldn't hold up for another season.
"Physically if I felt better," Favre said, "we may not be having this conversation. But I think that [the shoulder] more than anything was the writing on the wall for me."
The apparent severity of the shoulder injury, which Favre said required at least one cortisone shot last season, makes retirement about as permanent as it can be for someone with Favre's long history of waffling. But Favre was much more ambiguous about his relationship with the Green Bay Packers, who said in a statement Wednesday that they planned to retire his No. 4 at some point in the future.
Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette asked Favre how long it would take to heal the wounds of his divorce with the Packers. Here's what Favre said:
"I haven't even thought about it. For the teammates I played with in Green Bay and the fans, nothing has changed since day one. It's a shame the way it has unfolded throughout this whole thing. I don't know. I don't have answer for that right now. It may be five years. It may be the first game [of 2009]. I have no idea. Honestly, I haven't even thought about it."
Dougherty then asked Favre if he would wait to reconcile until after general manager Ted Thompson left the organization. Favre's response:
"I don't know. He had his reasonings. I had my reasonings. Who is to say who is right and who is wrong? He has a plan. I'm not mad at him for that. Other people may be. I don't know. It's a touchy situation and I know that my stay in Green Bay was unbelievable. Unbelievable. Nothing can take that away. ... It is what it is. It's unfortunate. But at some point it'll be dealt with."
Finally, Favre was asked about part of an ESPN report we referenced Wednesday morning: That his agent, Bus Cook, informally broached the subject of a release. The move would allow Favre to sign with the team of his choice should he decide to play again.
Favre denied asking for a release but added: "It doesn't matter one way or the other. It all comes down to physically how I feel. That could change based on arthroscopic surgery or whatever. But I'm not willing to do that, and I'm not willing to take that chance. But, no, we didn't ask for a release."
There is a difference between informally broaching the topic and outright asking for a release, but we'll leave that distinction alone for now. At the end of a long day of Favre-talk, it seems we can shut the door on his career.
Pretty much. We'll leave it cracked open just a bit. Just in case.
A significant reason the New York Jets are confident they can locate Brett Favre's replacement by sorting through their existing depth chart is because new head coach Rex Ryan is committed to the ground game.
"We're going to run the ball," Ryan said Wednesday on a conference call. "We're going to run it more this year. When you got Thomas Jones and Leon Washington, that's a strength there. There's a lot of positives about our offense."
Ryan pointed out all the offensive components that will be back. Ryan called the Jets' offensive line, which will remain intact, "one of the premier offensive lines in the league." Jones and Washington made the Pro Bowl. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and offensive line coach Bill Callahan were retained.
Aside from the quarterback and fired head coach Eric Mangini, the Jets essentially will have the same offensive group that went 9-7 last year and failed to make the playoffs.
The Jets consistently won when they ran. They were 7-2 when Jones scored a rushing touchdown. They went 2-5 when he didn't score a touchdown. They were 2-6 when he had 17 or fewer carries.
Ryan politely declined to explain the trends because he wasn't around then.
I'll answer for him: The more Favre threw, the more he killed the Jets. Favre's departure will be addition by subtraction for the offense.
Ryan said he and Schottenheimer intend to operate an "all-weather offense."
"You have to be able to run the ball when the snow flies," Ryan said. "You don't win consistently by throwing every single snap. You have to be able to run the ball. I think our team is built for it with our offensive line and when you look at your backfield, that's a pretty good start."
Jones led the AFC in rushing with 1,312 yards. He had a 4.5-yard average and scored 13 touchdowns. Washington was honored for his kick return skills, but he is a dangerous offensive weapon who ran for 448 yards and caught 47 pass for 355 yards.
Ryan sounded undeterred by the fact the three quarterbacks on his roster -- Kellen Clemens, Brett Ratliff and Erik Ainge -- have a combined eight NFL starts. Ryan, who was the Baltimore Ravens' defensive mastermind since 2000, watched rookie Joe Flacco guide them to the AFC championship game.
"It's definitely possible to win with a young quarterback," Ryan said.
"These guys don't have to be the solution. They just have to be part of the solution. We feel very good about our offense being a tremendous offense this year.
"This offense is going to move. The quarterback is a big part of that but you don't have to do things yourself. You just have to be part of the system."
Last summer's messy divorce notwithstanding, Brett Favre's No. 4 will still be retired at Lambeau Field some day.
That's the upshot of a statement released Wednesday by the Green Bay Packers. Here's the full text:
Congratulations to Brett on a remarkable career. The Packers organization wishes him and his family well. Brett always will hold a special place in Green Bay Packers history, and we remain committed to retiring his number at an appropriate time in the future.
The Packers originally planned to retire Favre's number last September, but his return and subsequent trade to the New York Jets changed those plans. I would imagine that no ceremony will be scheduled this time around until it is patently clear that Favre is finished playing.
I was all set to reveal to you, dear readers, my Grand Conspiracy Theory before the pesky Tom Pelissero of the Green Bay Press-Gazette beat me to it.
Here it is anyway.
When they traded Favre to the Jets last year, the Packers insisted on a "poison pill" provision that would require the Jets to forfeit multiple first-round picks if they traded him back to an NFC North team. But there is a way around that obstacle, if Favre is willing and interested.
This is how it would work:
- Favre retires, taking his $13 million salary cap charge for 2009 off the books. (Done!)
- Favre waffles. (Any day now.)
- Favre decides he wants to play in 2009 and requests reinstatement from the Jets. (You can't rule it out.)
- The Jets, who are tighter against the cap than any other NFL team, don't have $13 million in cap space and would need to cut other players or at least restructure their contracts in order to squeeze him back onto the roster. And that's assuming they want him back as their starter sometime this summer. (Debatable.)
- The Jets can't trade Favre without first adding him to the roster. (NFL fact.)
- The Jets release him rather than make the necessary cap adjustments. (Very plausible.)
- Favre becomes a free agent. (NFL rule.)
- Favre considers only a handful of teams. Minnesota is one of his top choices. (Long rumored.)
- Favre and the Vikings agree to terms on a contract. (Voila!)
There you have it. Brett Favre from retirement to Minnesota in nine easy steps.
New York Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum was coy on the subject of acquiring a new quarterback, but he and owner Woody Johnson conveyed optimism in a Wednesday afternoon conference call that Brett Favre's replacement already is on their roster.
|Al Pereira/Getty Images|
|Kellen Clemens is considered a candidate to replace Brett Favre.|
"We do feel good about the players we have," said Tannenbaum, who traded for Favre and then released veteran Chad Pennington to make room in August. "If the opportunity presents itself [in free agency], we'll measure it carefully and do whatever's best for the Jets."
Said Johnson: "We've got three quarterbacks on the roster, and we feel pretty good with competition among those guys we'll end up with a pretty good quarterback."
Favre's decision will clear precious salary-cap space for the Jets, who were over and needed to trim by the end of the month to be in compliance with league rules. Clemens, Ratliff and Ainge aren't expensive, and the Jets might be content to move forward without spending for a free agent.
The draft is another avenue the Jets could explore. They own the 17th overall selection. Top-rated prospect Matthew Stafford of Georgia will be long gone by then. Southern California's Mark Sanchez likely will be off the board, too. But strong-armed Kansas State passer Josh Freeman should be there.
"If and when we do add another quarterback, those situations will present themselves when they come up," Tannenbaum said. "We like what we have on the team. We will try to improve what we have on the team at every position, but we're going to move forward with those three quarterbacks on the roster."
Here is a breakdown of the Jets' QB depth chart:
- Clemens was drafted out of Oregon with the 49th overall selection in 2006. He started eight games in 2007, taking over when Chad Pennington got hurt and then becoming Eric Mangini's quarterback of preference -- but with trepidation. Clemens completed 52 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He had a 60.9 passer rating.
- Ratliff wasn't drafted out of Utah. He spent 2007 on the practice squad. While Clemens struggled and it became evident the Jets didn't want Pennington to win the job in training camp, Ratliff stood out. He outplayed Clemens. It would have been interesting to see who would have emerged in a battle between the two.
- Ainge, a fifth-round draft pick from Tennessee, had a difficult rookie campaign. Favre's arrival marginalized him. A foot injury sent Ainge to injured reserve. In November, he was suspended four games for violating the league policy on performance-enhancing substances.
Brett Favre's retirement announcement Wednesday essentially finalized the terms of the trade that sent him from Green Bay to the New York Jets last summer.
The Packers will get a 2009 third-round pick, a conditional premium resulting from Favre's 2008 playing time. But as numerous media outlets have pointed out, the Packers will have to send the Jets a seventh-round pick in 2010 because Favre will have played only one season for the Jets.
Those terms would change only if Favre plays for the Jets in 2009. If he returns to play for another team, the terms won't change. If the Jets trade him to an NFC North team, they'll have to send the Packers three first-round draft picks.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
A conference call with owner Woody Johnson and general manager Mike Tannenbaum has been scheduled for noon Wednesday, but in the meantime, here are some reactions.
Jets owner Woody Johnson: I had a great conversation with Brett this morning. Considering that he came from a totally different environment and joined our team during training camp, his performance last season was extraordinary. As I spoke with people throughout the organization, they all told me how much they enjoyed working with him. Brett Favre is a Hall of Fame player, but he is also a Hall of Fame person. Brett, Deanna and his family will always be a part of the Jets family.
Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum: When we acquired Brett, we knew we would get everything he had. He took the time to mentor younger players and his competitiveness and enthusiasm at practice and during games was contagious. I spoke with him this morning and told him that he will be a friend of the Jets for years to come and it was an honor to work with him.
Jets head coach Rex Ryan: It was an honor to coach against Brett over the years. If he's not the best quarterback ever, then he's certainly in the conversation. I have great admiration for him as a player and a person. I wish him only the best in his life after football.
|Rich Kane/US Presswire|
|The Jets were 9-7 in 2008 with Brett Favre at quarterback.|
Favre's stay lasted about five months, but left so much wreckage strewn in its wake.
Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum's daring Aug. 6 trade not only set them back, but also made an AFC East rival more competitive.
Here are some of the consequences of the decision to bring Favre aboard:
- The Jets went 9-7, failing to make the playoffs despite committing $140 million to free agents such as Alan Faneca, Damien Woody, Tony Richardson and Calvin Pace and trading for Kris Jenkins.
- Favre led the NFL with 22 interceptions and had a 79.3 second-half passer rating.
- He threw two touchdowns and nine interceptions in the final five games. The Jets were 1-4 in those games and needed a miracle defensive play to beat the Buffalo Bills.
- The Jets released Chad Pennington to make room for Favre. Pennington led the Dolphins to the AFC East championship after a 1-15 season in 2007. The Dolphins beat the Jets at the Meadowlands to clinch.
- The Jets' late-season collapse cost several people their jobs. They fired Eric Mangini the day after the season finale. Mangini landed with the Cleveland Browns.
- Adhering to superstition, Mangini in October named his newborn son after Favre. Maybe Wite-Out has been applied to the birth certificate.
- Favre learned he suffered a torn biceps during the season and was playing hurt.
- Favre created tension in the Jets' locker room. Running back Thomas Jones publicly said Favre should have been benched for his poor play late in the season. Safety Kerry Rhodes noted he would like Favre to come back only if he committed himself in the offseason.
- The Jets lost a third-round draft pick in the trade with the Green Bay Packers.
|Highlights of the best moments from quarterback Brett Favre in 2008.|
Now it's over. Or is it?
Favre's presence will resonate into 2009 because of the massive changes it created. Tannenbaum, who made several positive moves, kept his job. But the Jets have a new coaching staff that may or may not work out, and a team that invested so much money into making the playoffs last year has to find another quarterback.
Call me a cynic. I apologize in advance. But am I the only one who has trouble believing Wednesday morning that Brett Favre has absolutely, positively and without question retired from the NFL?
|Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images|
|Is Brett Favre done for good? We thought so last March.|
It seems to me that anyone who watched Favre's flip-flop in Green Bay last year has to be wary of his stated intention to leave the game for good. And I felt that way before reading the entire story produced by ESPN's Ed Werder and Chris Mortensen. The report contained this passage:
While Favre did not directly broach the subject of the team simply releasing him so that he might have the option of signing with another team such as the Minnesota Vikings, a source said that [agent Bus] Cook informally discussed the option with the Jets. The Jets respectfully declined that option, the source said.
There is only one reason to have even an informal discussion about a release: To ensure the option, however unlikely, that Favre can choose his next team should he change his mind. If Favre was 100 percent committed to retirement, such a safety net would be irrelevant. But even Favre -- or at least Cook -- knows there is no way to predict whether his winter defiance will melt into a summer desire.
If Favre tried to build a contingency plan into this departure, then there's no way I can rule out a repeat of last summer's return.
There are other reasons to question whether Favre will stick to his plan this time. If you recall, he has often stated he wasn't totally ready last year to make a decision about his career in Green Bay. The Packers asked him for an answer prior to the start of free agency, and he told them what he felt at the time: That he was ready to retire.
But, Favre pointed out, many veteran players don't want to think about the prospect of next year so early in the offseason. It wasn't until the late spring and early summer when he started experiencing the "itch" felt around the NFL.
|NFL Total Access counts down the top 10 performances in Brett Favre's legendary career.|
A similar scenario played out this winter with the New York Jets. Team officials were hoping to get an indication prior to the annual scouting combine, which starts Feb. 18. So Favre told them how he feels at this moment. Who is to say he won't get the same itch again this summer?
And, even if he doesn't, you can't rule out a team that is dissatisfied with its quarterback situation -- or loses its starter to injury -- approaching the Jets about a trade. The poison pill that effectively prevents the Jets from trading him to an NFC North team remains in place, but that doesn't mean a fast-talking general manager or coach from another division couldn't convince Favre to give it another go.
Favre threw an NFL-high 22 interceptions in 2008. But if you're in mid-August and your other option is, say, Tim Rattay, don't you at least look into Favre's availability? And if you're the Vikings, how fast would you jump if the Jets reversed course and decided to release him?
I think it's more likely that Favre will remain retired than it is that he will seek a return. But that's as far as I'm willing to go.
Maybe I'm jaded. Perhaps I spent too much time last summer in Green Bay. But if I learned anything during that episode, it's never to underestimate Favre's willpower -- or his indecisiveness. They are competing attributes that combine to make him one of the least predictable professional athletes of modern times.
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