Brett, you're not in Green Bay anymore.
Brett Favre practically was coated in Teflon throughout a record-breaking, playoff-making career with the Packers. Among media and fans, critical interceptions were excused away as "Brett trying to make a play." That Favre didn't spend time with the vast majority of his teammates and had his own separate locker area was mostly swept under the rug.
But that was in Green Bay, where Favre was the icon of icons, a legend among legends.
In New York, however, it took just four months for Favre's act — both on and off the field — to come under intense fire.
How quickly things can change. On Nov. 23, Favre turned in a virtuoso performance in the Jets' 34-13 romp over the previously undefeated Tennessee Titans. Favre, with 20 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, was being mentioned as an MVP candidate, and the possibility of a Jets-Giants Super Bowl was all the rage.
But the wheels fell off in the final five weeks of the season. The Jets went 1-4 — they would have been 0-5 had the Bills not gone brain dead in the final 2 minutes — with Favre throwing two touchdown passes against nine interceptions.
On Thursday, Newsday quoted an anonymous Jets player as saying Favre created "resentment" in the locker room. As was the case in Green Bay, Favre had a separate locker area. According to the player, Favre was "distant" toward his teammates and made no attempt to fit in with his new co-workers.
Star running back Thomas Jones minced no words, either, suggesting Favre should have been benched in a must-win season finale against rival Miami in which Favre threw three interceptions.
A few days after the Jets completed their mind-blowing collapse, Newsday asked fans whether they wanted Favre to return. The results: 23.1 said yes, 20.6 said yes but use an early draft pick on a quarterback and a whopping 56.4 percent said no.
Favre, for obvious reasons, had earned an astronomical amount of goodwill during his 16 seasons with the Packers. After all, a Super Bowl winner who is the league's only three-time MVP and a top-five quarterback in NFL history deserves a free pass for the occasional blunder.
Jets fans, with huge expectations after the team spent more than $140 million during the offseason, weren't so willing to offer Favre a get-out-of-jail-free card.
Fact is, Favre's late-season meltdown wasn't anything out of the ordinary.
Along with this year's two-touchdown, nine-interception performance this season, Favre threw 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions in his last seven games of his superlative 2007 season, five touchdowns and 11 interceptions in his last six games in 2006 and two touchdowns and 12 interceptions in his final six games in 2005.
For those of you keeping score at home — a group that includes Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson — that's 20 touchdowns and 41 interceptions to close his final four seasons.
Of course, football is about more than numbers. Maybe Favre's seen-it-all experience would have changed the Packers' 0-7 fate in games decided by four points or less.
Then again, with the season on the line, Favre produced 13 yards, two punts, an interception and a turnover on downs in a lackluster attempt to rally the Jets in the fourth quarter against the lousy 49ers. Then, Favre produced all of three points against the woeful Seahawks. With the Jets trailing by seven points late in the fourth quarter against Miami, he threw an interception.
Would Favre have given the Packers the on-the-field leader they needed? That's debatable, too. While longtime sidekick Donald Driver missed his good buddy, many of the younger players asked about Favre during the final weeks of the season proclaimed no allegiance to him. Favre, they said, wasn't in the locker room. They had nothing in common with him. He made no effort to get to know them. While none of them had a bad word to say about Favre, they said they felt a stronger bond with Aaron Rodgers. The losses, they said, hurt more because of how it reflected on their quarterback.
Throw in Favre's 3-7 record in his last 10 playoff games — he was picked off 19 times in those games — and is there any question that Thompson and McCarthy made the right decision?
"Yes, I think we definitely made the right move at the quarterback position," McCarthy said in his most assertive comment of Wednesday's season-ending news conference.
The future is now with Rodgers, who showed his enormous potential by throwing for more than 4,000 yards. Give him a better defense, and 6-10 can turn into 10-6 or 13-3 in a hurry. The future is not with the 39-year-old Favre. Not even a legend can defy Father Time forever.
Time, as the saying goes, heals all wounds. Some nasty, festering wounds were created during the Favre-Packers divorce this summer. Hopefully in a few years, Favre and the team will kiss and make up. And when Favre comes to Green Bay for his induction into the Packers Hall of Fame, he'll get the hero's welcome he so richly deserves.
Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brett the Jet crashes and burns
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