Favre: 'I'm here to help the Jets win'
CLEVELAND -- Brett Favre held up his new green jersey Thursday evening, hoping he made the right decision.
"To a certain degree, I don't know what I'm getting into," he said.
Favre's summertime soap opera ended Wednesday night when the Green Bay Packers traded their iconic quarterback to the New York Jets, who haven't had a star of No. 4's stature since the days Joe Namath was slinging passes.
"I'm here for one reason. Not to do commercials, Broadway, all those things," Favre said after joining New York for its preseason game in Cleveland. "I'm here to help the Jets win."
It's not certain when the three-time MVP will be ready to play. "I'm a little out of shape, compared to the other guys," Favre said. But he plans to be on the field soon.
Five months after a tearful goodbye to a Hall of Fame career, Favre is now part of a Jets team that went 4-12 last season. Before his acrimonious split with the Packers, Favre won a Super Bowl title and set all sorts of records in 16 seasons.
"It's like a marriage that ends," Packers president Mark Murphy said Thursday. "It happens. Neither party is at fault."
That was Favre's read, as well.
"I think we're probably both at fault," he said. "I'm not going to blame one side or the other. A lot of things happened this season, a lot of shocking things. But at this point it's irrelevant."
Packers fans aren't so sure.
"It might be the death of a franchise," Walt Fontain said Thursday outside Lambeau Field. "This is like Buddy Holly. The day the music died. It is sad for all sports fans because this guy was not done. It is not that he was hanging on."
Far From Great QB Play
Since Brett Favre started his consecutive starts streak (which began on Sept. 27, 1992, and is at 253 games), the Jets have gone through 15 QB starters. Here's a look at how Favre compares with those Jets QBs.
|Pass Yds Per Game||242.3||195.7|
Favre spent Wednesday night at his home near Hattiesburg, Miss., before flying to New Jersey to meet with Jets officials. They then boarded a charter for Cleveland.
"The last 24 hours have been crazy," Favre said.
Dressed casually in cargo shorts, a gray T-shirt and new white baseball cap bearing a green "NY" logo, Favre arrived at Browns Stadium a little after 6 p.m.
On his way to the Jets' locker room, he recalled a few previous visits to Cleveland with the Packers before meeting with New York coach Eric Mangini, who is a year younger than his new QB.
Favre was then joined by Jets chairman and CEO Woody Johnson and general manager Mike Tannenbaum. During his drawn-out divorce with the Packers, Favre said he had been reluctant to speak with Tannenbaum because he was certain the GM would be able to sell him on joining the Jets.
"He's convincing," Favre said, drawing a smile from Tannenbaum. "I know this team had a lot of talent."
Before the Jets received the opening kickoff, Favre and his new backup, Kellen Clemens, talked briefly on the sideline. Favre clutched a card containing New York's offensive sets, and after each snap he discussed what transpired with quarterback Brett Ratliff, who in an instant went from raw rookie to teaching one of the game's greats.
Brett Favre comments on his memorable time spent in Green Bay playing for Packer fans.
Favre, expected to practice for the first time Saturday, later played catch with Clemens during a severe-weather delay and hung around to watch the Jets rally for a 24-20 win. On Friday, Favre will be welcomed to New York by Mayor Michael Bloomberg during a morning ceremony at City Hall.
For the moment, Favre brings the Jets publicity -- second-stringers in the New York area, the Jets are far overshadowed by the champion Giants.
Already, his jersey is being scooped up by fans who awakened Thursday morning to the news that the Mississippi country boy with the cannon right arm is on his way to the big city.
Told that 3,000 new jerseys had been sold online, he joked, "That's all?"
Although Favre still must pass a physical and a run test, the NFL managing council approved the deal Thursday.
The Packers will receive a fourth-round draft pick in 2009 in return for Favre. The selection would turn into a third-rounder if Favre plays in 50 percent of the Jets' plays this season, a second-rounder if he plays in 70 percent and the Jets make the playoffs, or a first-round pick if he plays in 80 percent and the Jets reach the Super Bowl.
"We wish him the best," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Thursday. "There's no ill feelings. He has a positive reputation within this organization."
Jets To Wear No. 4
It's safe to say that Brett Favre will be the most accomplished player ever to wear No. 4 with the Jets.
Until the deal was announced, it appeared the 38-year-old might be on his way to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But the Jets, who went to camp with Chad Pennington and Clemens battling to be the starter, persisted and landed Favre.
Pennington, benched midway through last season, was released Thursday afternoon.
However, on Thursday morning, Buccaneers general manager Bruce Allen denied that his team ever had serious interest in acquiring Favre.
"There was no negotiations,'' Allen said. "There was never any substantive talk about what they would take to trade him. All of that was speculation. From the beginning, I think it was clear that it was a bad situation in Green Bay and they had to deal with it any way that they could.''
Allen said the Bucs never made an offer to the Packers and downplayed Tampa Bay's interest as nothing more than minor curiosity.
"It really never got to that,'' Allen said. "We always look at any type of scenario we can find that can help the Buccaneers. That's our No. 1 priority, helping this team -- if it was going to be a double trade or a triple trade or in any form that we can help the Bucs. We will always listen.''
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Highlights from the New York Jets' news conference in Cleveland announcing Brett Favre as the new starting quarterback. Listen
That's contrary to statements from Favre and agent James "Bus" Cook on Thursday that they were in talks with the Bucs and the Jets (and those were the only teams involved).
"There's quite a few players in the league that have an interest in coming to Tampa Bay,'' Allen said. "Without getting into the tampering rules of the league, I think that's a credit to what we're doing. The system would fit a lot of players. I'll let him talk about his situation. There were, I think, about 18 teams that had permission to talk to him. The fact that people want to play here, we consider that a credit.''
Still, the chance to acquire a player of Favre's stature caught the attention of Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden.
"You're not talking about Tony the Tiger here. You're talking about Brett Favre," Gruden said.
"This was one of the more awkward, unprecedented situations from a timing standpoint, from a media standpoint, that I've seen in my career. I'm just kind of glad it's over."
But for the Jets, it is just the beginning. A draft pick is hardly a steep price for a quarterback who holds league records in career yards (61,655), touchdowns (442) and wins by a QB (160) -- and who hasn't missed a start in 275 consecutive games.
The Jets are hoping Favre can bring them some of the magic he created at Lambeau Field, a place where the sight of him dropping back into the pocket on a frozen Sunday and rocketing a ball downfield is as etched in Packers lore as legendary coach Vince Lombardi walking the sidelines.
Favre is coming off one of his most productive seasons, one during which he answered any doubts about whether he still had game. He passed for 4,155 yards, his most since 1998, and had 28 TDs with 15 interceptions. The arm strength was still there, and so was his ability to improvise and make something of nothing.
"I hope I can play at the level that I've always played at," he said. "There's no guarantees. There have never been any guarantees for me. It's football, and anything can happen."
He led the Packers to the NFC Championship Game, where they lost to the Giants in overtime. Favre's final pass was intercepted, setting up New York's winning field goal. That pick, a blemish on an otherwise brilliant season, may have haunted him and driven Favre back onto the field.
"I always wanted to be a Packer and I think I always will be a Packer," he said. "I'm not a traitor, never will be. It's business. It's the way it works. I gave everything I could possibly give. I hope the Jets fans see the same thing."
In New York, Favre will step behind an offensive line rebuilt during the offseason by the additions of free agents Alan Faneca and Damien Woody. He'll have wide receivers Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery as his primary targets. He's got a new playbook to learn quickly, and in the media capital of the world, he going to have to deal with more attention than he ever imagined.
"I haven't played in New York. I'm a South Mississippi boy, but I know how tough the city can be and I know how great it can be," he said. "It can be as good as you want to make it."
After leaving the podium, Favre was asked if he would commit to New York for more than one year.
"We'll see," he said.
Information from ESPN's Chris Mortensen, ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas and The Associated Press was used in this report.
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BRETT FAVRE SAGA: OVER
After pushing and pushing to keep playing either in Green Bay or elsewhere, Brett Favre's storied career will continue in 2008. The unretired quarterback has been traded by the Packers to the Jets.
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