Favre Closes the Door on Legendary Career

By Douglas Bonjour
Jets, Staff Writer
February 11th, 2009
This time there were no tears of sadness and less drama. For quarterback Brett Favre, whose next step in his legendary career will presumably be into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the tone was subdued. Favre called his time in the league "wonderful" and remained appreciative of his brief yet unsuccessful stint with the Jets. For one of the greatest to ever suit up on Sundays, there was a sense of certainty that 18 seasons was finally enough.

"It's been a wonderful career. I couldn't have asked for anything more," Favre deadpanned as he announced his retirement today. "It's time to leave."

For Favre, the physical consequences that came with playing football had finally taken their toll.

Favre arrived with the Jets on Aug. 7, 2008 in a trade with the Packers as a potential savior from the decades of suffering for the beleaguered Jets franchise. After sifting through quarterbacks the likes of Ken O'Brien, Neil O'Donnell and Brooks Bollinger, the Jets finally grabbed a signal-caller who stood in stature to the franchise's golden figure, Joe Namath.

Owner Woody Johnson took a New York-sized risk in releasing quarterback Chad Pennington last summer and bringing aboard a Hall of Fame figure with an aging arm and a diva personality, but the image of Namath leading the Jets to an improbable upset in Super Bowl III remained the lone sweet spot in the heart of every Jets fan.

With Favre, the Jets carried an 8-3 record into late November and the buzz of a long-awaited Super Bowl trip began to grow throughout New York. However the team's hopes crashed down once again. Favre suffered what was later revealed by doctors to be a torn biceps tendon in his throwing shoulder and the Jets lost four of their final five games. His passes fluttered like wounded ducks as he tossed nine interceptions and just two touchdowns during the final month.

He was hampered by pain in his right shoulder which grew "progressively worse throughout the year" and during the Jets' 13-3 loss to the Seahawks on Dec. 21, he began having doubts about his playing future.

He had been given a cortisone shot on his injured shoulder two weeks prior and responded with what he called his "best throwing practice throughout the year" the following Thursday. But in the loss to Seattle, Favre threw for just 187 yards and two interceptions.

"There were some throws...I threw it and it didn't end up where I wanted it to. That to me was an eye-opener," he said.

Following the season, Favre was told by doctors that the torn biceps tendon would require arthroscopic surgery to repair and while the option to undergo the surgery and return to football for another season remained, he was not willing to risk the situation.

"I'm 39, I had several options [to recover physically] and to let it heal. How would that affect me in terms of playing, I had no idea and it wasn't something I was willing to risk," Favre said.

While Favre told reporters that "we may not be having this conversation" about retirement had his shoulder not fallen apart late in the season, he closed the door on any possibility of a return. Favre said that both he and his agent Bus Cook never asked the Jets for his release. In the end, the signal-caller's health proved to be the determining factor.

"It doesn't matter one way or the other. It all comes down to physically how I feel," he said. "That could change based on arthroscopic surgery, but I'm not willing to do that and I'm not willing to take that chance."

Favre undoubtedly will leave football as one of the most accomplished quarterbacks of any era. A three-time MVP (1995-1997), he holds records for most career touchdown passes (464), passing yards (65,127) and completions (5,720). He also led the Packers to a victory over the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI.

Favre acknowledged that Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum was in the process of filing Favre's retirement papers with the NFL, something that the quarterback did not do after his initial retirement last offseason. Various reports earlier this offseason said that the Jets hoped to have the quarterback make a decision on his future by the Feb. 27 NFL Scouting Combine, but Favre explained today that he was not given a timetable and that it was "solely my decision."

While the possibility remained that the gunslinger could return to the Jets for a second season, no disappointment from team hierarchy resonated over the decision to retire.

"With Brett right from the beginning, it was always a possibility that he wouldn't play the second year," Tannenbaum said. "We were hoping to get one good year out of Brett Favre and we acquired him based on our opinion and him giving us the best chance to win last season. We were disappointed not to have made the Super Bowl, but we did some very good things with Brett."

Favre praised his fellow teammates with the Jets, but he also explained that he felt more or less that he was starting over again after leaving the Packers.

With Favre retiring, the Jets' next objective will be to search for a replacement. Kellen Clemens, Brett Ratliff and Erik Ainge are on the roster, but only Clemens has starting experience (eight starts in 2007). While the Jets will surely sniff around a thin crop of free agent quarterbacks, Ryan said that the "next quarterback does not have to be the solution. They just have to be part of the solution."

While the Jets may feel a sense of urgency to bring in a veteran quarterback later in the offseason, Tannenbaum says that the team is "starting with what we have."

"If and when we think there is an opportunity to improve whatever position, including but not limited to the quarterback position, we'll look at that very carefully," Tannenbaum said.

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