Thursday August 7th, 2008

Now that Brett Favre is finally an ex-Packer, here are 10 things to know about him being a Jet:

1. We get two Favre vs. Tom Brady showdowns a year: The Giants' overtime win at Lambeau Field in last January's NFC Championship Game spoiled the Favre vs. Brady Super Bowl storyline many were dreaming of, but now we're guaranteed a couple per season. Unless, of course, Favre is injured and misses a game -- and he never does -- or shocks everyone (not!) by re-retiring at some point in the near future.

Providing Favre gets the Jets offense down ("Somebody get open and I'll find ya'') we're not going to have to wait long for the first 2008 meeting of the quarterbacking giants. In Week 2, the Patriots travel to the Jets, in a game that was already going to have beaucoup "Return to Spygate'' angles out the wazoo. Now we've got Favre-Brady to chew on as well.

Then, in a Week 11 rematch, as part of the NFL Network's late-season schedule, the Jets will play New England in a Thursday night prime-timer at Gillette Stadium. It might even be cold enough by then in Foxboro to remind Favre of late September in Lambeau.

If you're wondering, Favre is 1-1 in his career against Brady, beating him in a 2002 regular-season game at Gillette, and losing 35-0 at Lambeau in a mid-November 2006 rematch, a game in which Favre was knocked out of in the second quarter after a Tedy Bruschi sack injured the ulnar nerve in his right elbow.

2. There's even more juice for the Patriots-Jets blood feud: Not that we were running low on sub-plots in a rivalry that truly requires no hype -- see earlier reference to a certain video-taping incident of some renown -- but adding Favre into this combustible mix jacks up the headline quotient another three notches.

It'd be like the Yankees signing Barry Bonds out of retirement (or exile) just to give their rivalry with the Red Sox a little more buzz. Come to think of it, wasn't that a consideration for both New York and Boston at one point this summer?

3. Favre's right arm vs. the Meadowlands winds: You may have heard, but Giants Stadium isn't the most quarterback-friendly of NFL venues. You've got to know how to play the wind, especially late in the season when the gales of November come early (apologies to Gordon Lightfoot). For advice, maybe Favre can call Phil Simms, the ex-Giants QB who last year instructed Favre to keep playing as long as he could, because retirement's forever.

Lot of good that nugget did.

It might surprise you to learn Favre has played just five games in Giants Stadium over his 17-year career. He's 3-2 there, with eight touchdown passes, but his finest performance was his most recent -- a three-touchdown day in Green Bay's 35-13 win over the Giants in Week 2 last season.

New York did get even, however, picking Favre off in overtime to pave the way for Lawrence Tynes' game-winning field goal in that frosty NFC title game at Lambeau.

4. The Jets continue their love affair with older quarterbacks: What do Vinny Testaverde, Boomer Esiason and Neil O'Donnell have in common? Well, besides the fact they all grew up on either Long Island or in New Jersey, the Jets' two neighborhoods for years now, they all quarterbacked the green and white relatively late in their careers.

And not with much success, I might add. In the 10 seasons from 1993 to 2005 in which one of those three veterans started at least four games for New York, the Jets made the playoffs exactly twice -- 1998 and 2001 with Testaverde.

Shoot, even the franchise's quarterbacking standard-bearer, Hall of Famer Joe Namath, only made the playoffs twice in 12 seasons in New York (1965-76), and his last trip was in 1969, at the age of 26. Somebody should let Favre know: The Jets and old quarterbacks just don't mix well.

5. Prepare for one more Holmgren-Favre reunion: Are you ready for this? Take a guess where the Jets play in Week 16 this year? Yep, at Seattle, in what, barring the playoffs, will be Mike Holmgren's final home game after 10 years as the Seahawks head coach. Hard to believe, but that's three years longer than he stayed in Green Bay.

Holmgren has announced his retirement effective at the end of this season, and the Seahawks have already named their assistant head coach/secondary coach Jim Mora as his successor. What if, in a wave of nostalgia for all things Green Bay, Favre would choose that very day in Seattle to announce that he's going to go out at the end of the year just like Holmgren, his old Packers coach? You know, make a big re-retirement splash?

But what if Holmgren four months later had second thoughts about his plan to walk away, saying he discovered he still had "the itch'' to coach again? Would Seattle choose to stand behind Aaron Rodgers ... I mean, Mora? Would Favre leak word he wanted to reverse his re-retirement based on Holmgren trying to do the same thing? As you can see, the possibilities -- like almost every story having to do with Favre -- are endless.

6. The Life in the Big City Factor should be fun: Favre has played all but one season of his football career at either Southern Miss or in Green Bay, which is the only small-town setting in the NFL. Not to say he hasn't received saturation coverage in recent years -- Thanks, ESPN. You can stop now -- but New York is New York. It'll take Favre three weeks to learn the Jets playbook, and a month to figure out which beat writers work for which newspaper.

Ah, but if he can make it there, he'll make it anywhere.

7. And the real winner is: I say nobody came out of this whole crazy saga better off than Tampa Bay, the team that didn't land Favre. They say the more desperate team usually wins in the NFL, and that held true this time. The Jets looked at their quarterback depth chart of Chad Pennington and Kellen Clemens and felt they had to have Favre. The Bucs merely wanted him because Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden always covets his neighbor's passer.

But the reality is the Bucs offense under Gruden has enjoyed its greatest success when it had a quarterback who was coolly efficient at protecting the football. Tampa Bay won a Super Bowl in 2002 with Brad Johnson rarely giving the ball away, and that was Jeff Garcia's strong suit as well last year, when he led the Bucs to a surprising NFC South title.

Last time we checked, ball protection wasn't exactly Favre's calling card. Mr. Green Bay Gunslinger was better at it last season, of course, but he is still the NFL's all-time leading thrower of interceptions, and he's way up there on the fumbles lost chart too.

So congrats to Gruden and the still Garcia-led Bucs. It's one of those best deals they never made type of things.

8. No grooming allowed: For his sake, I sure hope Jets third-year quarterback Kellen Clemens isn't expecting to sit and pick Favre's brain all week long this season. Somebody give the guy Aaron Rodgers' phone number and have him take a lesson on how to make yourself invisible around No. 4. Because ol' Brett didn't go through all this legacy-tarnishing comeback stuff in order to teach K.C. how to hum that slant pass in there every time. Favre would sooner slink back to his tractor in Hattiesburg.

The way I see it, the Jets didn't just give up on Chad Pennington when they made the Favre deal. They gave up on Clemens, too, who they paid a second-round pick for in 2006 (49th overall). With Favre around for a year or two, Clemens' development just went into suspended animation. Probably for good.

9. It's not the heat, it's the humidity: It's probably just God's sense of humor, but Favre did at least get his wish of playing in a colder weather climate, which is one of the reasons why early on he wasn't excited about being traded to Tampa Bay.

So how do the Jets start the season? At what promises to be a steamy 1 p.m. kickoff in Dolphins Stadium in Week 1, and in always warm San Diego in Week 3 (true, it's a 5:30 p.m. local time start, but don't ruin our point). We know Favre excels when the thermometer drops below 34 degrees, but how is he when it's 85 out and you drip just standing still?

10. The Canton debate: Just for fun, and to mess with Green Bay's front office one last time, here's hoping Favre starts the rumor that he wants to go into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a Jet some day. Hey, if Wade Boggs can make his case for the Devil Rays, anything's fair game.

On another front, I think it's safe to say Favre is in the free and clear to wear No. 4 with the Jets. Well, providing somebody checked with long- forgotten backup quarterbacks Pat Ryan (1978-80) and Glenn Foley (1995-98) and they don't mind.

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