New York Jets  


In the end, it turns out Favre didn't hold all the cards

  • By Thomas George
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Mark Duncan/Associated Press
Jets owner Woody Johnson helped orchestrate the team's bold move to acquire Brett Favre.

Brett Favre not only changed his mind on the Packers. He also flipped on the Jets.

Early in this beyond-Lambeau leap from Titletown to Gotham, Favre made it clear to the Packers that he was not interested in the Jets. Too much heavy-lifting there. The Buccaneers to Favre looked more quarterback-friendly and closer to Super Bowl XLIII. Much closer. The game will be played in the Bucs’ stadium. Favre thought hooking up with Jon Gruden might provide just the juice to get both there.

But if we have learned anything in this Favre and Packers yarn of D-E-N-I-A-L (Don’t Even Notice I Am Lying) mixed with confusion, Favre can flip the switch in an instant on what really matters to him most. First it was remaining in Green Bay. Then it was playing in the NFC North. Then it was remaining in the NFC.

Details of the deal

The Green Bay Packers traded Brett Favre to the New York Jets for a conditional fourth-round draft pick in 2009, but the deal comes with a number of stipulations, NFL Network's Adam Schefter reports.

» If Favre takes 50 percent of snaps this season, the Packers get a third-round pick. At 70 percent of snaps and if the Jets qualify for the playoffs, Packers receive a second-rounder. If Favre takes 80 percent of snaps and Jets make the Super Bowl, Packers receive first-rounder.

» If Favre retires after one year and Packers get Jets' first-round pick, Packers would send Jets a fifth-rounder in 2010. Additionally, Favre must play in at least 50 percent of one playoff game for Packers to get that compensation. If Packers get second-rounder, Jets would get back sixth-rounder in 2010. If Packers get Jets' third-rounder, Jets would get seventh-rounder in 2010.

» The "poison pill" scenario: If Favre is traded to any team in NFC North, Jets would surrender three first-rounders to Green Bay. Trade also includes provisions preventing trade to another team if that new team were to trade him to NFC North.

» Favre's contract remains $12 million in base salary for this season.

Now it is the Jets.

The Packers, to be fair, helped put it all there.

It was amusing during this tale to hear so many offer that Favre held all of the cards, that he would decide where he would play, that his stature would dictate this outcome. Not quite. The Packers had no interest in Favre playing in their division. Check. The Packers wanted him out of the NFC. Check. The Packers did not want him on a team that was on their 2008 schedule. Check. Farve, in the end, acquiesced.

Amazing that after it was over, Favre said his early-week rendezvous with Packers coach Mike McCarthy was more to clear the air and settle a few things than it was to rejoin the Packers. He said he went to that meeting knowing it was all over.

Shocking, really.

I thought it was over when Favre gave interviews early in this process where he said Packers general manager Ted Thompson was someone he could not trust and that he had pushed the Packers hard to hire Steve Mariucci over McCarthy.

If you were Thompson or McCarthy, that was the end.

Actually, McCarthy saw it much sooner than that.

All of last season, McCarthy preached to Favre that less could be more and asked for a more disciplined approach that would reduce Favre’s 29 interceptions from the previous season. The gunslinger had his holster stripped. Favre went along, reluctantly. Then with some enthusiasm. All the way to the NFC Championship Game.

Then the old Brett -- the one with the bad habit of taking too big of a shot at too small of a time -- emerged. Corey Webster preyed on that forced, ill-advised Favre throw. Game over. Season over. The way the Packers finished was everything McCarthy had tried to prevent.

Often during this yarn the question has been posed and routinely answered about what quarterback gave the Packers the best chance to win? Favre, of course, was the quick, resolute answer. McCarthy, however, would pose the question: Best to win what? More games, right now? Yes, maybe Favre. A championship? Uh, no. McCarthy wants to play a balanced, blending game of football, mixing power running with power throwing and he wants to decide when which lever will be pulled. It is the right of every NFL head coach. Somewhere along the way, without fail, McCarthy found that Favre was going to do it Favre's way. And this coach, any coach worth his play sheet, cannot live with that.

The ultimate axiom in NFL coaching is this: I may get fired. I may go down in flames. If so, it will be while running my system and what I believe in. If I fail, I have to fail knowing that the football philosophy I was hired to implement was employed.

I believe McCarthy was convinced that as long as Favre was around, that coaching right would never be fully exercised. And that he would not win a Super Bowl with Favre as his quarterback.

That is what happens with a team when the player is allowed to become bigger than the franchise. So many people believed that just because this is the way it had become with Favre in Green Bay, it would remain that way.

Favre to the Jets says otherwise.

Favre on board with the trade says otherwise.

New York is the place where, you know, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. Now here comes Favre flipping things again. He has made it elsewhere. He comes to New York as a place of refuge. No easy trick.

A quick word here on the Bucs, Chad Pennington and the guy Pennington boots wherever he lands.

I do not think that Gruden is a very happy man right now. I believe he thinks his franchise got the end-around, sort of approached Favre and the Packers like the deal was easy and done because both Favre and the Packers were in need ... and in swept the Jets. The Bucs underestimated how attractive the Jets option was for the Packers, compared to the Bucs and the Packers having to play each other this fall. Gruden is watching his quarterback, Jeff Garcia, nurse a calf injury. If that continues to flare up Gruden will be left with Brian Griese and Luke McCown for the season and a sense of discontent could permeate the Bucs organization.

As for Pennington, a 2000 first-round draft pick by the franchise, a model teammate and driven quarterback, this stings. The Jets just told the guy thank you very much and good-bye. Favre's trail alone just singed the place. Pennington was left without a home. Likely not for long. Kansas City, Minnesota and Chicago are possible suitors. Pennington will find a new home. But another quarterback likely gets dumped to make room for Pennington.

The NFL’s life cycle can be brutal. And far-reaching.

Give the Jets tremendous credit for clarity in their thinking, clarity in their purpose, striking a deal that gives them safeguards. They courted and convinced Favre that a different shade of green fits him well and fanned hope across their fan base in a splashy, historical way. If you share a building with the franchise that just won the Super Bowl, as the Jets do, you need your own Broadway moments, your own props. The Jets now have that.

This was a Believe-In-Now move by the Jets that has little risk and possibly tremendous rewards. We have seen a wave of recent player movement that has brought Jason Taylor to Washington, Adam Jones to Dallas, Jared Allen to Minnesota, Asante Samuel to Philadelphia and Jeremy Shockey to New Orleans.

Favre to the Jets made those moves combined a mere ripple.

New York said give us your tired, your poor, your broken-spirited NFL star quarterback and we will embrace him and he will feel wanted and he will be home. For a guy like Favre, that meant the world. The difference. Not to mention the myriad of marketing possibilities that he will encounter in New York that would only originate in New York. Favre gets that.

The Jets get a jolt.

They get a hungry, angry quarterback who is out to prove that Green Bay blew it. A man bent on redemption. One who from afar will seek to stick it to the Packers.

And, at least, the Jets can rest assured -- Favre won't flip on that.


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