Much has been written how Brett Favre, with his Dumb Hamlet routine of indecision, might have derailed the Packers’ season by waiting so long to decide he wanted to come back. It is a testament to Favre’s unique place in the NFL landscape that he might have derailed the Jets’ season, too.
On Friday, reports were rampant that the Jets were considering trading for Favre, taking a chance on the veteran. It made a certain amount of sense; Chad Pennington still struggles to throw the ball more than twenty yards, and Kellen Clemens clearly isn’t ready. (Still.) But pretty much as soon as Mike Lupica penned his “Get Favre!” column, a closer inspection made it clear that Favre isn’t a realistic notion for the Green. He’s too expensive, he doesn’t quite fit in Eric Mangini’s system, and it’s hardly obvious he would even want to come here. But once the Jets admitted they’d talked to Favre’s agent, their season was doomed.
The Jets have many issues this off-season and plenty of work to do in training camp. But on Friday, and surely the rest of this week, all anyone is going to want to talk about is Favre. (Fans are already showing up at camp with “Bring Us Favre” signs.) The existing quarterbacks are spooked (Chad Pennington already called for the Jets to “make a decision”), coach Mangini is already tired of talking about it, and the fans and the media won’t let the notion escape their brains. At best, the Jets are looking at an 8-8, 9-7 year, an improvement on last season but not nearly enough to divert any of the spotlight away from the Giants. No matter what happens to the Jets this year — but particularly when Pennington or Clemens inevitably costs the team a game — everyone will wonder what would have happened if they traded for Favre. He will be a phantom haunting the team all season, and he never so much as batted an eyelash in their general direction.
So forgive us if we shed few tears for the Packers’ difficult Favre predicament. Sure, What Might Have Happened will loom over every failure Aaron Rodgers and the team suffer all season, and management might never be forgiven for turning away a legend. But at least Favre once played for the Packers; they certainly got some value out of the guy. The Jets? Brett Favre will stand in as the missed opportunity who would have (theoretically, not actually) solved all deficiencies. And the Jets likely never really had a chance at him, and never seemed to be trying all that hard to bring him in. All because of an elderly quarterback who still doesn’t quite seem sure he wants to come back at all. Thanks, Brett. —Will Leitch