Favre, Packers come out just fine
Still grasping the reality of what he is -- the newest member of the New York Jets -- Brett Favre focused Thursday on what he says he isn’t.
“I’m not a traitor, I never will be,” he said, less than 24 hours after his falling out with the Green Bay Packers led to a trade. “It’s a business, that’s how it works.”
And for the Packers, it was a smart business move. They got a conditional fourth-round pick for Favre, a deal that could be sweeter depending on how he plays, and sidestepped the excruciating possibility of him playing for NFC North rival Minnesota.
Favre, speaking to reporters before an exhibition opener at Cleveland, conceded that all along the Vikings had been his team of choice.
“Maybe that was vindictive, competitive,” he said, adding, “In the end, that was probably the wrong motive.”
As it happened, Favre’s new career chapter began the way the old one ended -- with an interception. The Jets stepped in front of a telegraphed pass -- one from Green Bay to Tampa Bay -- and picked off the 38-year-old quarterback to the surprise of just about everyone.
Trading Favre anywhere was fraught with peril for the Packers, but the Jets are about the closest thing to the other side of the moon from Green Bay.
That’s not to say Favre can’t win there. But he’s heading to an AFC team that was 4-12 last season, losing eight of its first nine games, and plays in a division owned by the New England Patriots.
Had Favre gone to Tampa, which some reports called a near-done deal, he would have been reunited with Coach Jon Gruden on a team that won the NFC South last season and plays host to Green Bay in a Week 4 game.
After the deal was finished late Wednesday night, Green Bay General Manager Ted Thompson and Coach Mike McCarthy probably got their first bit of decent sleep in weeks. Not only did they finally move Favre and end this nightmarish saga, but they got a remarkably good deal for him. From Green Bay’s standpoint, this is about as perfect as you can get.
The Packers will get a fourth-round pick for Favre that becomes a third-rounder if he plays 50% of the snaps, a second-rounder if he plays 70% of them and the Jets make the playoffs, and a first-rounder if he plays 80% and New York advances to the Super Bowl.
Then, there’s the poison pill. If Favre were to be traded to any team in the NFC North, the Jets would have to give the Packers three first-round picks. There are also provisions that block the Jets from trading him to another team which, in turn, tries to trade him back into the Packers’ division.
Favre’s Green Bay days are over, a reality many people in that Wisconsin town are struggling to digest.
“We’re sad, I guess that’s the word I’d use,” said Jim Schmitt, Green Bay’s mayor. “Even though it’s been bumpy these last few weeks with all the he said, she said, we do still respect him. . . . This community doesn’t always embrace change real well, and this is a change. But I want the best for the Green Bay Packers, and I want the best for him.”
It’s a good deal for the Jets too, whose second-class-citizen status in New York figured to be even more pronounced this season in the wake of the New York Giants’ Super Bowl victory.
New York had to release Chad Pennington to make room for its new quarterback. But Brett Favre is Brett Favre. The Jets just couldn’t pass on a chance to add that future Hall of Famer to their roster, a guy who leaves Green Bay as the NFL’s all-time leader in most major passing categories, including touchdowns (442), yards (61,655), completions (5,377) and attempts (8,758). He was coming off a season in which he led the Packers to within one victory of the Super Bowl, passed for 4,155 yards -- his most since 1998 -- and had 28 touchdowns with 15 interceptions.
Suddenly, the Jets are a must-watch team with an intriguing schedule that includes four West Coast games: at San Diego, Oakland, San Francisco and Seattle.
It’s not as if Favre is heading to a place where he can’t win. Just two years ago, the Jets rebounded from a 4-12 season to go 10-6, winning five of their last six games to clinch a playoff spot. Coach Eric Mangini was dubbed “Mangenius,” and Brian Schottenheimer went from a young offensive coordinator to a legitimate head-coaching candidate.
The franchise -- bolstered by the addition of guards Alan Faneca and Damien Woody, linebacker Calvin Pace and first-round pick Vernon Gholston -- has potential.
Favre is moving on, and so is his old team.
“It’s like a marriage that ends,” Packers president Mark Murphy said. “It happens.”