No more tears: Favre tells agent to tell Jets he’s really through playing
There was not nearly as much fanfare this time.
Instead of a nationally televised press conference in front of a room filled with reporters, Favre conducted a 35-minute conference call in which he took about a dozen questions. News of his retirement hit the Web and the airwaves quickly, but with far less saturation and staying power.
Favre, 39, sent an e-mail Wednesday to his favorite media outlet, ESPN.com, saying that he had instructed his agent to inform the New York Jets that he was retiring. The Jets later confirmed that they had been apprised of his decision and released statements from owner Woody Johnson and general manager Mike Tannenbaum.
The Green Bay Packers, who held an elaborate news conference for him March 6 of last year when he retired the first time, left most of the talking to Favre and the Jets. They released a statement that said they intended to honor Favre when the time was right.
“Congratulations to Brett on a remarkable career,” the statement read. “The Packers organization wishes him and his family well. Brett always will hold a special place in Green Bay Packers history, and we remain committed to retiring his number at an appropriate time in the future.”
There will be plenty of skeptics who will wonder if Favre really means it this time. After all, he retired last year only to inform the Packers four months later that he absolutely intended to play another year. After a monthlong ordeal and what turned into a nasty divorce, the Packers traded him to the Jets for a conditional draft pick.
The Packers will receive a third-round pick for Favre in the 2009 draft, but because Favre retired after one season, they will have to ship a seventh-round pick in the 2010 draft back to the Jets. If the Jets trade Favre to a team inside the Packers’ division, they would have to give the Packers three first-round picks.
Favre said he filled out his official retirement papers and turned them over to the Jets, who will submit them to the NFL. Last year, Favre never came close to filling out the papers.
Though he left praising the Jets, Favre had some harsh words for the Packers and general manager Ted Thompson. In a lengthy interview with ESPN.com conducted right after the season and not released until Favre announced his retirement decision Wednesday, he said he blamed the Packers for the way things ended in Green Bay.
“They sent me to New York because they didn’t play the Jets, they were 4-12, so they didn’t have to play me. They knew we had very little chance of making the playoffs and they knew it was not likely that we’d have a better year than they did,” Favre said. “I was aware of all of that and more than up to the challenge because they felt they were shipping me off to Siberia and they’d never hear from me again.
“So was I coming back to play because I loved the game or to prove them wrong? Probably a little bit of both. Maybe initially I came back for the wrong reasons. It was like, ’OK, they don’t want me to play, then I’ll play somewhere else and show them I can still play.’’’
Later Wednesday evening, in a conference call with reporters, Favre said he had not thought about what his relationship with the Packers will be now that he’s retired. He wasn’t as harsh in his comments about Thompson and the organization, but he made it clear there are still scars.
“I haven’t even thought about that,” Favre said of his number 4 being retired. “But the teammates I played with in Green Bay and the fans, nothing has changed since Day 1. It’s a shame what unfolded throughout this whole thing.
“I don’t know, I don’t have an answer for that right now,” Favre added. “It may be five years, it may be the first game. I have no idea. Honestly, I haven’t even thought about that.”
Asked if it would take the departure of general manager Ted Thompson for him to reconcile with the organization, Favre said, “I don’t know. He had his reasoning, I had my reasoning. Who’s to say who’s right or who’s wrong? He had a plan. I’m not mad at him for that. Other people may be.
“I don’t know. It’s a touchy situation. I know my stay in Green Bay was unbelievable. Unbelievable. Nothing can take that away. (There’s) not one person in that organization who hasn’t been outstanding to me throughout my career. It’s unfortunate, but at some point it will be dealt with.”
Later, Favre was asked if anyone in the Packers organization had called and said anything to him.
“Like what?” he said. “No, I haven’t talked to anyone. Several players have sent me some nice messages.”
In discussing his reasons for retirement, Favre cited mostly a sore right shoulder that was the result of a biceps tendon injury that flared up. It was the same kind of injury Favre suffered on his left side a number of years ago, but he said this time it affected his ability to throw.
The Jets started 8-3 but lost four of their last five, and it was obvious that Favre’s arm strength was dwindling as the season wore on.
“It’s something that obviously I was able to play with,” he said. “I don’t think I was nearly as productive as the season progressed, but it very well could be fine next year. I’m well aware of that. But then again, it could linger and bother me throughout the year and I just felt like it was time. I think that, to me more than anything, was a wakeup call.”
Favre, who threw 22 touchdowns and 22 interceptions in ’08, finishing with a passer rating of 81.0, said surgery could correct the injury quickly or it could correct itself through rest.
He did not deny that the feeling he had last summer after his first retirement could come back, but he said the potential of playing hurt again has led him to think it wouldn’t be worth the risk. He didn’t flatly deny that his agent inquired whether the Jets might release him, but he said that was something he had no intention of doing.
“It doesn’t matter one way or the other,” Favre said of his release. “It all comes down to physically how I feel and I don’t feel like . . . Again, that could all change with arthroscopic surgery or whatever. But I’m not willing to do that and I’m not willing to take that chance. That more than anything is why I’m retiring. We didn’t ask for our release.”
Favre does wield some leverage in this situation. The Jets are just barely under the 2009 salary cap and would have to make major cuts to fit Favre’s $13.6 million cap number onto their books.
If Favre truly wants to be released, he could force the Jets’ hand by declaring himself unretired in June, thus forcing the Jets to take on his $13.6 million cap number. If the Jets are unable to take on that number, they would have to release him and Favre would be free to sign with any team he wanted.
The Jets didn’t speak as though they expected that to happen.
“He did not ask to be released,” Tannenbaum said. “Everything he said was, he is done playing football. We have our plan according to that, and we’re going to move forward.”
When asked if the door might be open to Favre if he again decides to come back, Tannenbaum said he wanted to stay away from hypotheticals.
“He felt he had given us everything he had, and it was time for him to move on,” Tannenbaum said Favre told him.
Favre said he felt he was a positive influence on the team despite some negative comments Jets players made about him after the season. He admitted it was different for him playing in New York, but he said he poured his heart into the season and felt he gave the organization everything he had.
In admitting he might have come back just to spite the Packers, Favre said he was aware people were comparing his performance with his successor in Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers. He told ESPN.com that family members and friends were consumed with him having better statistics than his replacement.
He said he did not pay attention to the stats.
“The only thing I worried about was winning,” he said. “There was a time in my career where I paid more attention to individual stats, but in the last couple of years the most important thing was winning and losing. In the end, that’s what matters most.
”Was I (angry) at Green Bay? Sure. But I wasn’t (angry) at their players. I did keep up with the wins and losses. Sure, it was hard not to do that. I didn’t wish them bad, but I wished us better.“
Favre holds National Football League records in career passing touchdowns (464), yards (65,127), completions (5,720) and attempts (9,280). Including playoffs, Favre has started 291 consecutive games, a record for a quarterback.
He led the Packers to one championship, two Super Bowls and 14 non-losing seasons in 16 years. In his final year, the Jets started 8-3 but finished the season 9-7. The Packers finished 6-10 without him.