Mangini names Favre as Jets' starter against Washington
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- Brett Favre stood in front of yet another throng of reporters, a towel draping his shoulders and a bead of sweat dripping from his gray-speckled hair.
The New York Jets' newest quarterback was a bit weary after his first practice Saturday.
"There were times at practice today," he said, measuring his words, "I was wondering if I made the right move."
Don't worry, Jets fans. He was joking -- sort of.
"It's been difficult," the 38-year-old Favre said. "It's a pretty difficult offense to learn and I'm sure the one I've been in the last 16 years has been difficult, too. It'll take some time, but I think we'll be fine."
Favre tearfully retired -- "That seems like so long ago, it seems like a dream" -- then came out of retirement and, after a messy divorce with Green Bay, was acquired by the Jets late Wednesday night. Leaving no doubt as to Favre's standing with his new team, coach Eric Mangini announced that he'd start next Saturday at home against Washington.
"I'm not going to sit here and tell you that I've got this offense down, that I know every guy in the locker room or they know me," Favre said. "It's a routine and I'm just kind of following them. That's different for me."
After 16 years with the Packers, the last few days have been a whirlwind for the iconic quarterback. Favre flew to Cleveland to be on the sideline for New York's preseason opener Thursday, had a meeting with the mayor at City Hall on Friday and then had to cram for his first test back on the field with his new teammates Saturday.
"I was really surprised that today I was as effective as I was, and I'm not saying that that was good," he said. "I'm just saying I was able to take a snap, call a play, we were able to break a huddle and I was able to complete passes in some sort of rhythm."
Judging by the velocity on some of his passes, the Jets expect Favre to get up to speed fairly quickly.
"Hey, he can zip it now," said wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery, who did extra hand strengthening exercises before practice. "All the rumors about him throwing hard, yeah, they're true."
Favre worked mostly with the first-team offense, and his every completion was cheered by the estimated crowd of 10,500 delirious fans -- over 8,000 more than the Jets usually draw to practice at Hofstra University.
"As soon as we stepped out here, the stands are filled and it creates a new energy for the team," Cotchery said. "Practice went by so fast today."
The fans, hundreds decked out in green and white No. 4 jerseys, crammed into the metal bleachers and some stood about 10 deep behind the fence that borders the practice fields. A number of them wore cheesehead hats, a reminder of Favre's Packers past, and a half-dozen even caught a glimpse from the roof of the university's swim center a few yards from the practice facility.
"I came here as a kid and there were always a few people here and there, but nothing like this," said Scott Myers, 28, of nearby East Meadow. "It's an event right now."
His buddy, 27-year-old Brett Rudin, also of East Meadow, came to practice wearing his new Favre jersey.
"Anytime you have a chance to get a guy like Brett Favre, you've got to go get him," Rudin said. "Now, with him, they're going to go at least 10-6."
Sounds good, but Favre has resisted the urge to make any guarantees since becoming the biggest superstar to play for the Jets since Joe Namath. He wasn't tricked when he was asked how this chapter of his life would end if it were a movie.
"Of course, I and this team would come out being victorious," he said. "I hope at the end of this season, I really do, that I feel like I made the right decision. I hope the Jets fans and the people throughout the NFL world feel like I made the right decision. At this point, I think it was the right decision. I'd love to win the Super Bowl; I would've loved to have gone and won it last year. As I said yesterday and the day before, my intentions are to help this team win."
Favre received a standing ovation as he jogged on the field and waved to the overflow crowd. The fans remained on their feet while he took practice snaps from center Nick Mangold. When asked if he and Favre had to make any adjustments to each other on snap exchanges, Mangold smiled.
"How do you tell Brett Favre to adapt to you?" he asked.
You probably don't, but with someone with his experience, you probably don't need to worry much.
"It's all brand new," Mangini said. "He's trying to learn everybody's name, trying to figure out where the cafeteria is and the dorm rooms and all that other stuff."
The fans cheered each of Favre's completions, including a pretty 40-yard pass to Cotchery that drew the biggest oohs and ahhs. Favre wasn't perfect, though, as evidenced by a that was intercepted by Matt Chatham.
"There's nothing for me to do than try to get this offense down," Favre said, "get acclimated with the guys, the system and that will take awhile and that'll be tough."
Favre reminded everyone that it was the first time he had put pads on since losing to the New York Giants in the NFC Championship Game, and at times he might have been overly excited.
"I'm two weeks behind as far as practice and I'm also 38 years old, so I'm a little bit behind there, too," he said. "My arm feels fine. It'll be tired tomorrow and it'll be sore because there's no substitute for getting into game-type situations and putting the pads on.
"I didn't want to look too bad, so I tried to put as much into it as I could, and I'll pay for it tomorrow. But, I'll be OK."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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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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