Jay Glazer of Fox Sports reports that the Green Bay Packers have traded Brett Favre to the New York Jets. Terms of the deal have not been officially confirmed but Glazer indicates that Green Bay will receive a conditional draft pick, the value of which will be determined by Favre's performance.
Neil Everett and Stuart Scott were hosting FavreCenter when the story broke, so naturally all other sports news immediately went down the memory hole as viewers were treated to Favreapalooza 2008--highlights from his best games, plus reports from every single ESPN reporter, some of whom were probably awakened from a sound sleep so that they could breathlessly inform the nation of every word that Favre spoke to them earlier in the day before the trade had even happened (in other words, Favre quotes that were already outdated). I half expected Everett and Scott to dial up Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann to get their takes and I was surprised that Kenny Mayne did not have a "Mayne Event" feature about Favre as a Jet.
Initially, ESPN acknowledged that Glazer broke the story but pretty soon we were informed that Michael Smith had confirmed it and not long after that Glazer and Fox Sports went down the memory hole as well. By the 3 a.m. FavreCenter, ESPN will be nominating itself for an Emmy, a Pulitzer Prize and a Nobel Prize for being the first to deliver this news and thus ending our long national nightmare.
Apparently, the Favre sweepstakes came down to the Jets and the Buccaneers. The Jets want Favre because they have no faith in either of their incumbent quarterbacks, while the Buccaneers want Favre because Jon Gruden's dream is to have a roster consisting entirely of quarterbacks. Gruden was an assistant coach in Green Bay and has a history with Favre, so Favre preferred to go to Tampa Bay, which is also closer to Favre's Mississippi home. Naturally, since the entire world--nay, the entire universe--revolves around Favre, before news of the trade came down several ESPN reporters speculated that Favre is "driving the train" because he would not approve of any trade other than one sending him to Tampa Bay, thus forcing the Packers' hand because they don't want to have Favre around anymore. By the way, that's quite an accomplishment--to go from iconic figure in franchise history to despised old man who everyone hopes just goes away.
So, after the announcement that the Jets acquired Favre, Everett seemed completely dumbfounded that Favre did not get his way. After all, why shouldn't Favre get every last thing to go exactly his way? Why shouldn't Favre hold every single team in the NFL hostage? Maybe Favre can get a Clemens-like deal in which he only has to play in home games.
Moments of unintentional comedy abounded in FavreCenter coverage in the moments after news of the trade broke. Everett asked Sal Paolantonio if he (Paolantonio) would have agreed to the trade if he had been in Favre's shoes or if Favre should take his ball and going home to re-retire because Green Bay did not send him to Tampa Bay. Of course, this is a loaded question for Paolantonio to answer since he is not an NFL analyst but rather a sideline reporter who will be covering games in New York. Paolantonio called a great audible, telling Everett that he (Paolantonio) did not have such a choice in front of him and he really enjoys working for ESPN. Later, Everett asked Paolantonio how much this trade really helps the Jets. Paolantonio chuckled nervously and reminded Everett that he will be reporting from Jets' games this season (in other words, stop asking questions that I cannot answer honestly because drunken fans will be throwing beer on me if I do). Paolantonio sidestepped that land mine by saying that it is only logical to assume that the addition of Favre will improve the Jets and help them contend for a Wild Card berth, adding that otherwise it would not make sense for New York to acquire Favre.
Then Chris Mortensen joined the party and revealed that Favre really had his heart set on going to Tampa Bay. Mortensen would not rule out the possibility that Favre could decide to retire in light of this setback but then Mortensen backpedaled a bit and said that Favre saw some positives about being a Jet, too. Favre is a real piece of work. First, he grudgingly acknowledged that the Packers would probably needed to move on after he retired. Did Favre expect the franchise to simply fold after he retired or to go into suspended animation until he really, really, really retired? Now, after creating such a fuss for the past few weeks there is at least a possibility that Favre may simply stay in Mississippi, leaving the Packers, Jets and Buccaneers to clean up all of the damage caused by this turmoil.
Of course, the FavreCenter coverage would not be complete until each reporter explained how the Favre story personally impacted his life. Scott informed viewers that he had seen Favre at the ESPYs and asked how Favre was doing. Favre started to tell Scott how emotionally draining this whole ordeal has been but Scott stopped him and let Favre know that he was off duty so it was not necessary for Favre to go into such detail. Then they hugged and sang "Kumbaya" (I made that part up, though it would not surprise me if it happened). Mortensen said that it is tough covering a story that has become such a huge part of the 24 hour news cycle but that it was important because Favre is one of the greatest players ever; I half expected him to add that he got Favre's autograph at the ESPYs after Scott was done consoling Favre. Look, covering the Vietnam War was tough; covering the Iraq war is tough. Covering a diva quarterback who cannot bear being out of the spotlight is not tough.
Tampa Bay got the best deal here, because the Buccaneers escaped unscathed--Gruden deftly avoided offending any of the 25 quarterbacks on his roster and now can go back to business as usual. The Packers have had their whole offseason trashed and now every single snap that Aaron Rodgers takes will be dissected in super slow motion on FavreCenter. Good luck, kid--you're going to need it. Meanwhile, Favre's arrival in New York certainly means that Chad Pennington--who Mortensen said is a much beloved figure in the locker room--will be shipped out. I'll bet all of Pennington's friends on the team are thrilled about that. Yes, I know, this is a business and guys get traded and cut every day but the Jets are bringing in a guy who has already indicated before he even got there that he'd prefer to be in Tampa Bay. Like most older players, Favre does not want to practice and does not want to go to meetings--he just wants to play. He'll be a great example for all of the younger players on the team. The Jets were 4-12 last year and, even though they were 10-6 two years ago, it is more than a little stretch to believe that they will overtake the Patriots in the AFC East.
What happens if the Jets start 3-5--which would be a big improvement over last year--and Favre decides to really, really, really retire? Also, I don't care how many passes Favre has thrown to high school kids in the past month or two, he cannot possibly be in game shape mentally or physically. He's about to turn 39 and, believe it or not, he is not indestructible. Based on Favre's age, the amount of offseason conditioning Favre has missed and the risks of playing football when you are not fully committed to being on the field, I think that there is a good chance that he will sustain an injury that will end his remarkable consecutive games streak.
Bottom line--this will not end well for Favre or the Jets and it will be difficult for the Packers unless Rodgers plays extraordinarily well right out of the box. Congratulations, Tampa Bay--by losing the Favre sweepstakes you are in fact the big winner!