Jet on Favre's latest: 'Are you serious?'

Updated: October 7, 2010, 10:46 PM ET
By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- One player rolled his eyes. Another just laughed. The subject was Brett Favre, who claimed Thursday that he might have returned to the New York Jets in 2009 if he had been recruited by Rex Ryan.

"Are you serious?" one player asked, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "I've got better things to do than answer Favre what-ifs."

Another player said, "I'm not going to say 'good riddance,' but put it this way: I'm glad it worked out the way it did."

It worked out with the Jets drafting Mark Sanchez in 2009 and Favre coming out of retirement (again) to play for the Minnesota Vikings, whom the Jets face Monday night at the New Meadowlands Stadium.

Both teams reached their respective conference championship games last season. This year, the Jets are 3-1, with Sanchez the fourth-leading passer in the NFL (105.3 rating). The Vikings are 1-2, with Favre the lowest-rated quarterback (60.7) among those that have started since Week 1.

With Favre coming to town for the first time since his one-and-done with the Jets, his former team has faced a barrage of questions regarding that turbulent 2008 season. The future Hall of Famer was hailed as a savior when he arrived in a blockbuster trade with the Green Bay Packers, but he left with boos ringing in his ears after a late-season collapse.

The team harbors no bitterness toward Favre, several players said. The better word is "ambivalence." He wasn't around long enough to make a lasting impact in the locker room.

"It was quick," guard Brandon Moore said. "He got here in August and he was gone in December. He was in and out. It was a lot of fun in the beginning, but it ended badly."

Another player said, "It's like he wasn't even here."

Other than Favre's name appearing on the "Pro Bowl" wall in the Jets' facility, there are no visible reminders of him in the building. No pictures, no memorabilia in the trophy case. He was a blip on the screen in Jets history.

The Jets weren't his first choice -- he preferred the Vikings or the Tampa Bay Bucs -- and that didn't sit well with some players. But for the most part, they respected his effort and passion for the game. He never missed a practice, not even when his arm was hurt late in the season.

"I love the way he plays the game," center Nick Mangold said. "He runs around like a 9-year-old kid, having fun."

Tight end Dustin Keller said he learned a lot from Favre, mostly spontaneity -- how to ad-lib on pass routes to get open.

"If I had never been introduced to Sanchez, I would've loved to have had Brett back," Keller said.

Some believe that wouldn't have worked because of Favre's history of spending the offseason at his home in Mississippi, staying away from football activities in the offseason program. One player pointed to the Vikings' slow start on offense, saying it's a direct result of Favre missing most of training camp.

Sanchez took the opposite approach, organizing an informal passing camp in July for teammates at his home in Southern California -- extra work that appears to be paying off.

Favre was high-maintenance because the Jets had to change their offense in the middle of training camp, deferring to his likes and dislikes. At times, it was like drawing up plays in the dirt. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer claimed Favre never was overbearing, adding, "We hit it off really well."

What about the diva reputation?

"Outside the room, he's bigger than life," Schottenheimer said. "Inside the room, he's one of the guys."

Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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