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Thursday, August 7, 2008

The First Brett Favre Post

I have spent most of my 39 years of life hoping that the Jets can repeat what they did 39 years ago. I would be lying to you if I said I wasn't excited that one of football's greatest quarterbacks is playing for us, even if he was born only a year after I was. Anyone who has loved his football team as long as I have can't help but conjure visions best suited to science fiction. I'm human. I can only speak as the kind of fan whose devotion further blinds him from being objective about a likely out-of-shape quarterback trying to return for one last hurrah. I refuse to look at the reality of him playing against teams like San Diego, Denver or, of course, New England. Or even Buffalo, I guess.

"I hope Marty's got his aneurysm medicine handy," a friend of my wife's e-mailed her today. "He's going to need it when Favre throws for 240 yards and 4 interceptions against the Pats."

I know, I know. Last year, Brett Favre did look very good. But in seasons prior, he sometimes looked like a guy who was phoning it all in. Sometimes it literally seemed as though he would get in the huddle and order his receivers to follow the schoolyard instruction to "Just go out." When I was a kid we'd get into the huddle and the QB would look at us and pretend to make intricate instructions on the palm of his hand with his index finger, vainly hoping to throw off the defense just in case they happened to be spying. But he was just winging it. We knew it. He knew it. It was a crap shoot. If Favre hasn't got the playbook down, how's he ever going to avoid just chucking it downfield? I've seen that look on his face before. Ah, fuck it, it seemed to say.

But listening to the talking heads on ESPN, you'd almost be convinced that... Well, maybe...just maybe...

This from a good friend of mine: "Do your beloved Jets have a new shining light of hope? Or have they acquired a washed-up, can't make up his mind about his career quarterback? Good luck!" The answer is that in the past the Jets have sometimes made it their business to be a retirement home for legends, like Ronnie Lott and the newly inducted Hall of Famer Art Monk. Personally, I would like to see the statistics on the number of players who have ended their careers after a single season with the Jets. What about that same kind of statistic for other teams? It's practically incalculable, but I think the Jets might have the record.

Here in Philadelphia, one friend of mine, who has long looked bitterly at Favre through the eyes of being a pained Eagles fan, was incredulous. "How...?" he began. "How can you prostitute yourself like this to this guy who can't even so much as figure out where he wants to be? He doesn't care about you guys." Over lunch another Philly friend expressed her contempt by calling him a "prima donna." She hoped for his failure. She doesn't hate the Jets, or me. She had just lost that much respect for him. I am compelled to feel otherwise.

As for me, I'm not even ready to write the blog entry on Chad Pennington, who was quietly and solemnly cut from the team today. But I will eventually. I really, really liked Chad, and sometimes for just the little things. Again, no other quarterback except for Chad Pennington ever led a Jets offense as far as into the second round of the playoffs more than once. Part of me wondered (improbably) why we didn't let Clemens go and let Chad stay. I'm sure that someday soon Brett Favre will happily wave at the Lambeau crowd when his number is retired. But Chad Pennington is entitled to nurse a grudge toward an organization that never really designed an ambitious offense for him and threw Kevin Mawae and Pete Kendall off his front line. He's entitled to be bitter toward Jets fans who cheered when he got injured in the opener last year. Yet he never seemed put off. He forgave our own lack of his kind of Southern hospitality. But more on that later. That's too big for me to contemplate right now. It's been a long, strange, frightening day.

Meanwhile, here's the apt analogy my brother suggested to me today. See? Some jerseys just never seemed right in the first place. In fact, last year Mental Floss offered a montage of jerseys never meant to be worn. You were able to buy the one below at about 1:30 pm EST today.


You have been able to buy the one above since 1977, that one miserable year that Hollywood Joe spent away from Shea. You can still buy his game-worn Rams duds for $5,000. And I had to go into a career in education. What a waste.

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