The countdown to 2009 is over as a new countdown officially begins. With the New York Jets’ 2008 season finished, one of the NFL’s most recent annual traditions commences—the Brett Favre retirement watch.
If the rest of the Jets had any control over it, Favre’s retirement papers would have been signed, sealed, and delivered yesterday. Maybe even the day before.
The charm and character that have defined Brett Favre throughout his entire career are no longer welcome in New York.
With the Jets’ embarrassing end to their 2008 campaign, the team’s frustrations have leaked out of the locker room and into the newspapers. A team whose words to the media were once chosen carefully while Eric Mangini was head coach are no longer restricted by any rules.
The truth shall set them free.
Brett Favre: Trying to Find the “I” in “Team”
When Jets’ owner Woody Johnson held his press conference announcing the firing of Eric Mangini, he also spoke of his hopes for a Brett Favre return in 2009.
That sentiment is not echoed in Gang Green’s locker room.
Since Sunday’s loss to the Miami Dolphins, players speaking under the condition of anonymity have taken strong positions against the future Hall of Fame quarterback.
The problem is the same problem everyone’s had with Favre—his turnovers. “We’re out there busting our butts and [Favre] is turning the ball over…[The coaches] were always catering to Favre,” he said.
A report from Newsday, detailing a conversation with a veteran player goes in depth regarding the circumstances surrounding Favre’s arrival in New York—from private areas in the locker room to his overall “distant” behavior with his teammates.
All of it points to a team that’s not willing to put up with the same antics Favre pulled in Green Bay.
Jets defensive captain and star safety Kerry Rhodes told reporters if Favre wants to be with the team, he needs to “be here when we’re here in training camp and the minicamps…don’t come back if it’s going to be halfhearted or he doesn’t want to put the time in with us.”
On Tuesday, AFC-leading rusher Thomas Jones was interviewed on Hot 97—a popular New York-based Hip-Hop station—by Angie Martinez and DJ Mister Cee. When asked about the unfortunate turn the season took, Jones spoke openly of his disappointment.
When Mister Cee asked Jones if the team would stand behind him, Jones said, “That’s just reality. If I sit here and say, ‘Aw man, that’s okay,’ that’s not reality. Reality is, you know, you throw interceptions, we’re pissed off.
“Somebody’s not playing well they need to come out the game,” continued Jones. “You’re jeopardizing the whole team’s efforts…because you’re having a bad day. To me that’s not fair to everybody else. You’re not the only one on the team.”
The Fans Lost Interest, Too
Since the firing of Eric Mangini, the reactions have varied from pleased to stunned. It felt like the right move when the rumors were swirling about Bill Cowher being lured away from the CBS television studio.
When it became clear that Cowher was no longer a reality, new rumors began to swirl at a dangerous rate.
The most desirable and available veteran head coaches were scared to come to New York as long as Brett Favre was on the roster.
Not only were Favre’s critical interceptions partly responsible for New York’s finished season, but his presence alone is a hindrance in allowing the New York Jets to move forward appropriately in 2009.
The Jets may have lost an opportunity to be coached by Cowher because of the fun-loving veteran. And any head coach with a reputation, who could help change New York’s identity, is not interested as long as Favre is here.
This is not a town that owes anything to Brett Favre. The Jets fanbase is not one that will cater to his emotions or indecision—no matter how hard he tries.
As soon as Favre recognizes that the largest city and market in the world is completely against him, he will realize that he has no choice but to retire. No excuses will suffice. Favre apologists will be ignored.
New York is not interested in his country boy charm. And the Jets players who have made their careers here—who are near and dear to the fans’ hearts—will not tolerate his primadonna behavior.
You’re not in Wisconsin anymore, Brett.
Is this what the people of Green Bay had to deal with for the last few years? New York extends their deepest sympathies.