The New York Giants are coming off the greatest super bowl run in NFL history. Eleven straight road victories to end their season, culminated with a trip to Phoenix Arizona and a defeat of the undefeated New England Patriots in super bowl XLII, in arguably the greatest super bowl played of them all. Every time we hear the Giants referred to or mentioned this season it will be preceded by the words “world champion.” When you have that title every game is a big game, if not for the excitement of watching a great team, than for the fact that it will be a big game for the giant’s opponent because everybody wants to measure themselves against the champ, and knock them off.
But now, no matter where this giants story goes from here in this upcoming season, they will have to share the spotlight with the New York Jets. All in one stroke, by trading for Brett Favre this week, the Jets have created the biggest story in the NFL and in the city of New York. Favre is a quarterback with a legend as respected as any old tale of the cowboys of the old west. He is a gunslinger, a gunslinger who won three consecutive MVP awards from 1995-1997, and he has a super bowl championship under his belt which along with his current accolades gives him ultimate creditability. Everyone has heard the term “man’s man” and that’s what Favre is, and that’s why 90% of football fans are fans of Brett Favre.
Favre, the soon to be 39 year old quarterback, gives the Jets a star for the first time in years. During the Herman Edwards era the Jets were consistent playoff contenders, backed by a stout defense and a solid leader at the quarterback position with Chad Pennington. Then Edwards left two years ago, and the new regime led by general manager Mike Tannebaum and head coach Eric Mangini seemed content on brining in players who were not high on sex appeal, as if they were taking a page from the New England Patriots blueprint with the “no one player is bigger than the team approach.” During Tannebaum and Mangini’s first draft in 2006 when Jets fans were ready to move away from quarterback Chad Pennington, they passed on drafting USC’s Matt Leinart who had the golden boy persona and was one of the all-time winners in the history of college football. At the time Leinart would have been the popular pick, and a fresh face to rebuild the franchise with. But the Jets passed. Then in the 2nd round of that draft, having already drafted D’brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold to anchor the offensive line for years, Leinart’s USC teammate, tailback LenDale White, was on the board to be had and surely would have been a nice look to add with the two offensive linemen. But the Jets passed on the popular running back. Then a year later during the 2007 draft Jets management chose to pass on getting involved in trade discussions with Oakland for a very available Randy Moss. Subsequently, Moss ended up being traded to rival New England.
On the field, year one of the Tannebaum-Mangini era in 2006 was supposed to be a transition year where little winning was expected, as the team was coming off a disastrous 4-12 record the season before. But the team shocked everybody, going 10-6 and qualifying for the playoffs. A playoff year is always good, but the Jets overachieved that season, playing excellent team football and taking advantage of a favorable schedule. The team still lacked explosiveness at the skilled positions and were in dire need of a playmaker. In 2007 the lack of true explosive talent caught up with them as they took a step back and had the type of season many expected them to have in 2006. All of the goodwill head coach Eric Mangini built up in his first season was hanging on a thread that threatened to be blown away with another disappointing season in 2008.
So instead of passing on the star attraction, the Jets go out and get themselves involved in one of the biggest stories the NFL has had in recent history. The Jets get involved with the Brett Favre-Green Bay breakup and come out of it with the biggest of stars. Favre coming out of retirement and not finding a home with the Green Bay Packers was a huge story unto itself. Favre announced his retirement from the NFL on March 4th, at the time of the announcement many fans and sports pundits talked about how we had not heard the last from Favre, and that he would be back. They were exactly right. He got the itch; the itch that many athletes get, and after 16 NFL seasons him was ready for a 17th. But the Green Bay Packers had moved forward without their beloved quarterback. Favre wanted to play for a division rival, which he now admits was more vindictive than anything as he had visions of revenge against the franchise that would not let him back in the door to resume a hall of fame career. The moment the Jets knew Favre was available they were aggressive in finding out how they could make a deal. And with the Jets being the only team with serious interest who did not play in Green Bay’s NFC conference, they end up getting the man that will have not only Jets fans but NFL fans watching very closely all season long.
From the first time Brett Favre gets under center in his first preseason game against Washington next week, all eyes will be on him. One week after that the Jets play the world champion Giants in their annual preseason tilt at the meadowlands which will generate a ton of hype in the big apple. Then the season starts, and from week 1 the Jets will be one of the biggest stories in the National football league because of Brett Favre. Everyone will want to see him and they will be rooting for him. Favre against Bill Parcells’ Miami Dolphins, Favre against Tom Brady and New England twice a year, Favre under the bright lights of New York City. The stories will be tremendous, every game will be exciting, and if Favre can come to New York and win he can own the town. There was a time when Sundays in the fall in New York City meant watching struggling football teams who were uninteresting. Especially in the case of the Jets, who fans of the team know all too well have had a number of dreadful seasons throughout its history. There has never been a time in New York City when both the Giants and Jets were fascinating stories. No doubt that has changed, and come this fall between the hours of 1:00 – 7:00 p.m. on Sunday afternoons it will be must see T.V.