Thursday, August 07, 2008

Brett Favre to Jets: Meh

I've always been up front about my sports allegiances, but they also have an order to their passion. First is the Yankees, then the Duke men's basketball team. Then comes the New York Jets. The order is borne out of many things, particularly the success of each team but also I am not particularly passionate about football the way I am other sports. I'm not depressed when the Jets lose the way I am when Duke or the Yankees lose. But it occupies my Sundays and I follow the team with promise and hope, which usually is dashed quite quickly.

The Jets are everyone's favorite whipping team, from being second-class citizens in their own stadium to being painted as the bad guys in a cheating scandal last year. Their head coach is viewed poorly because he's tight-lipped in the New York media, and they hate that. But a few decades immersed in the New York sports culture has taught me a few truths.

1) The New York sports media is reactionary and illogical.
2) Most New York sports fans are pretty stupid. Passionate, but stupid.

The recent example that exemplifies both truths is of course Alex Rodriguez, who had the media turn on him in 2005 and the fans followed suit. Less obvious is the media, and fans' treatment of the New York Jets' starting quarterback, Chad Pennington. Not blessed with the world's strongest arm, Pennington has Football-IQed his way to multiple playoff victories for the Jets since 2000. Many of the same fans who booed Alex Rodriguez for striking out in July booed Chad Pennington for throwing incomplete passes in October, and it's just as ridiculous. Football fans are obsessed with backup quarterbacks, in a "grass is greener" kind of way. But there is this difficult truth for Jets fans: The oft-injured Rhodes Scholar finalist is the all-time NFL leader in pass-completion percentage (minimum 1500 pass attempts). Better than Steve Young, better than Tom Brady, better than Peyton Manning.

Better than Brett Favre. And now, the flip-flopping hick from Mississippi is now on my favorite NFL team, and I believe he makes the team worse. It's true, I may be remembering the failure of Brett Favre in 2005-- when he led the NFL in interceptions, and 2006, when he couldn't hit any receivers and had as many interceptions as touchdowns. In 2007 Brett was Favre™ again, and led the Packers to the NFC championship game. Where he choked. By throwing yet another interception.

Of course, "Brett Farve is a Gunslinger" will be plastered all over New York as the Jets try desperately for attention, in the shadow of the Super Bowl champs. Pennington, meanwhile, will be unceremoniously released, and I can't say it makes me feel good. Am I a hypocrite, for calling upon the Yankees to sign Barry Bonds, but displeased at the Jets getting Brett Favre. I don't know-- Bonds would definitely have improved the Yankees' offense. Will Brett Favre do the same for a Jets team built around possession receivers and sideline-to-sideline running backs? At the very least the Jets improved their offensive line and Favre won't spend the rest of his career on his butt in sack after sack.

When it gets right down to it though, what bothers me is this: if the Jets improve this season (and it's hard not to improve on 4-12), all the credit will go to Brett Favre. If the Jets make the playoffs, or do the impossible and surpass the Patriots in the AFC East, no one will remember signing Kris Jenkins and Alan Facea, or the drafting of Vernon Gholston and Dustin Keller. They will remember that the rugged man from Mississippi came through and turned the franchise around. Unless Favre leads the league in touchdown passes and a big part of the Jets' offense is vertical and deep, it won't be obvious to me that the Jets couldn't do the exact same thing with Chad Pennington. And at least Pennington's name is spelt like it sounds. Farrrrrrrrrrrrrve, goddammit.

As for Chad, I hope some team with a need picks him up and he leads them to a Super Bowl, and I almost hope he beats the Jets along the way. I would never feel this way about the Yankees, for whom I have more passion. But when it comes to the Jets I have little patience for the irrational media and the stupid fans. Brett Favre is going to come to town and the team is going to be pretty much the same as it was going to be without him; the only difference is that the interceptions are going to be a little further downfield....

I guess I shouldn't complain too much though. Things could always be worse. I could be a Miami Dolphins fan.

No comments: