Thursday, October 7, 2010
Updated: October 8, 7:52 AM ET
Brett Favre: Jets called about return
By Rich Cimini
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Before deciding to make the bold move to trade up for Mark Sanchez in the 2009 draft, the New York Jets made an 11th-hour call to Brett Favre to see if he was interested in coming out of retirement to give the Jets another season.
At least that's how Favre remembers it, adding a new wrinkle to the Jets/Favre break up. The Jets tell a different version.
The Minnesota Vikings quarterback, who will face his old team Monday night, said he talked to Rex Ryan, general manager Mike Tannenbaum and owner Woody Johnson before the draft. That was two months after Favre announced his second retirement.
"They asked if I wanted to come back," Favre said on a conference call with the New York media. "I was like, 'I don't want to go though surgery and all that stuff.'"
He eventually did have surgery to repair a torn biceps tendon in his throwing arm, but he did it to play for the Vikings, not the Jets. Soon after drafting Sanchez, the Jets released Favre from their reserve/retired list, making him a free agent.
Favre said might have opted for a Jets return ("Quite possibly, sure") if Ryan had given him a hard sell. That never occurred, according to Ryan, who said he had no contact with Favre after Feb. 11 -- the day of the retirement announcement.
"Don't kid yourself, I would've tried to recruit him if we were unsuccessful in getting Mark," said Ryan, adding, "I did not actively recruit him. Trust me, if I had tried to recruit him, he would've known. He would've had to kick me off the porch. I would've given him my A game, not a D game."
Clearly, the Jets targeted Sanchez in the draft, but Tannenbaum stayed in touch with Favre, gauging his fallback options in the event they couldn't secure Sanchez.
Favre led the Jets to an 8-3 start in 2008, but he tore his biceps (not disclosed until after the season) and struggled down the stretch. The Jets finished 9-7, missing the playoffs and costing Eric Mangini his job.
"I just wish it had ended better," Favre said of his only season in New York. "That was my only regret."
Looking back, Favre said he probably should've rested his shoulder, admitting his "accuracy was affected considerably." That, of course, would've meant the end of his legendary Iron Man steak, now at 288 consecutive starts in the regular season.
"I pressed the issue a little bit," he said. "Should I have sat down, taken some time off? Hindsight would say yeah, but I was determined to lead that team to victory and to the playoffs. When you're in that moment, it's hard to take a step back. I felt a considerable amount of responsibility."
Several of Favre's former teammates said they expect him to be booed by Jets fans Monday night. Favre said he isn't sure how he will be received.
"I don't know. It was one year," he said. "I think ... I would hope, like with any other place I've played, people will appreciate the effort I've given. Trust me, I take a lot of the blame, but I did all I could do."
Favre is off to a slow start for the Vikings (1-2), but received a new toy Wednesday -- wide receiver Randy Moss, who will replace the injured Sidney Rice as the vertical threat in their passing attack.
"I'm excited about it," Favre said. "He's a difference maker. On paper, it can be a great addition."
Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com.