Tonight, the Jets, for Once, Are the Sidebar

The Jets have been the traveling road show of the NFL this year. From Hard Knocks to Braylon Edwards to those Sprint commercials that feature the Saints and Jets facing off in the woodlands from Antichrist, the Jets are the team everyone is talking about, every week. Except for this week.

Brett Favre comes into the New Meadowlands tonight, and no matter how high-profile Mark Sanchez becomes, it’s extremely unlikely he’ll be mentioned by Matt Lauer, Tony Dungy, and Mario Lopez in the same 24-hour stretch like Favre has been. What started out as another tired debate about journalism ethics online has turned into something larger and crazier; certainly, no one would have expected the Leitch wedding best man to end up being indirectly responsible for the end of Favre’s consecutive-games-played streak. (Peter King thinks that’s unlikely, by the way, or at least “not automatic.”) The Favre cell phone phallus story has blown up bigger than anyone could have imagined. Randy Moss returning to the Vikings is the eleventh-largest story line of tonight’s game; the first ten are Favre and Lil’ Favre.

It is a bit surprising that the Jets aren’t taking a bigger PR hit from the story; after all, the incident happened while Favre was with the Jets, and Deadspin has accused a Jets media-relations person of “setting up” Favre and Jenn Sterger. (Note: Sterger still hasn’t publicly commented on any of this, and didn’t do anything wrong, but that’s not gonna stop the Daily News from putting up a slideshow of pictures of her at every opportunity.) But Favre already seems so far in their past; it’s the Vikings, a team that’s in danger of collapse anyway, who are biting the bullet on this one. The Jets have to feel fortunate; this really should be their problem more than that of the Vikings.

Favre’s current plight is being compared to that of Tiger Woods, but we think the better corollary is Roger Clemens. Both men came back for that one more season than they should have, keeping them in the spotlight just long enough to drop their biggest scandals on them. Had Clemens not come back that last season, it’s possible, being old news and all, he could have avoided what landed on him, or at least lessened it. Favre could have done the same thing. Now? No one will ever look at either player quite the same.

And after all this, there’s still a game tonight. The Jets are the worst possible team for the Vikings to be playing amid all this chaos, with Darrelle Revis back and healthy and the team playing better than it has in several years. (Also good for the Jets: No one’s talking about Santonio Holmes coming back, which could have brought its own controversies.) Tonight might be the most-watched Monday Night Football game this season, and a good number of the viewers will be wondering how ESPN will handle the Favre situation. They also might see the Jets put an end to this Favre-Vikings championship business, and then slink away, walking backward, hands in air, whistling, and let the Vikings keep dealing with the ongoing, and perhaps endless, mess. The Jets win in every way. Nothing to see here. Please disperse.

Tonight, the Jets, for Once, Are the Sidebar