Courtesy NY Jets PR Department
I want to apologize for the interview that I did the other day where you asked me what was going on and I couldn’t give you the answers. Now you can see there is an answer to what the questions were last week. We’ve got Brett Favre as a new member of the Jets.
We went through this process for the same reason we’ve been running the team all along with Mike [Tannenbaum] and Eric [Mangini], to try to improve this team each and every year. I just want to say it was difficult with Chad [Pennington] because Chad came at the same time I did and we owe Chad a lot of gratitude for the dedication for his dogged, team-oriented persistence even in light of all the adversity that we had in some years. He was always concentrated and always a good teammate so thanks to Chad.
Today we’re here to talk about what we’re going to be doing going forward so I’d like to toss it over to Mike and he can describe what has happened the last 24 hours.
Thanks, Woody. I don’t have much more to add since the last time we spoke. I don’t know if we’ve gotten a chance to sleep since that time. It is a bittersweet moment. We have released Chad. I have spoken to him, Eric has spoken to him and Mr. Johnson has spoken to him and again, on the record, I have all the respect in the world for Chad and what he’s done on the field as well as off the field. He’s a good player and a great person, he’s done a lot of great things for our organization and I wish him nothing but the best.
Fundamentally, the decision was made between Eric, myself, and Mr. Johnson from a standpoint that if this opportunity presented itself, we felt we were getting good play at the quarterback position. We felt this was a good opportunity to improve that and that’s why we went ahead and made the decision. We did a luminous amount of research on Brett as a player but also as a person and making sure we thought he could fit in the locker room. We were extremely comfortable not just with what he did on the field, but as importantly, what he did off the field and what he stands for.
We are happy. We are excited. We’re really glad he’s a member of this team. I can say on [Brett Favre’s] behalf that I think we’re all looking forward to getting past this stuff and going out there and playing some football.
Thanks, Mike and Mr. Johnson. The last 24 hours have been crazy. Really the last three weeks and this whole offseason has been bizarre or whatever you want to call it, but it is what it is. I am a member of the Jets. I am excited about it. I’m excited about the opportunity, and no one works as hard as this man right here [Mike Tannenbaum]. I was told by numerous people to at least talk to Mike over the last month and, as I told him today, the only reason that I wouldn’t talk to him up until 24 hours ago was because I knew how I’d be convinced once I talked to him.
Did I ever think this scenario would present itself? No. Am I excited about the opportunity? Yes. I’ve had a great career in Green Bay. That goes without saying. The things that have happened there this offseason, in my opinion, are over and done with. I wish them well. I will use their term—we’re moving forward. I hope that I play at the level that I’ve always played at. There’s no guarantees, there’s never been any guarantees for me. The game of football is just that and anything can happen, but I’ll bring the leadership and durability. I’m a little bit out of shape compared to all the other guys, but I’m so excited about this opportunity and I’ll tell you, my family and everyone involved has just been treated unbelievably by this organization. I’ve never looked forward to doing a conditioning test as much as I have at this point [joking].
I’m so tired of doing interviews and talking about this or talking about that. Tomorrow, hopefully, the mad rush is over and we can get that conditioning test at noon tomorrow. I’m looking forward to that [joking] and we go on. The most important thing in this whole process is the guys in that locker room. I know some of these guys by name, Bubba Franks I played with and know personally, but I really don’t know these guys and they don’t know me. I think when they get to know me they’ll like me and they’ll like the way I play and they’ll figure out that I’ll do whatever it takes to win and it’s about the team. I hope after today and tomorrow that the distractions are at a minimum. It’s ok to have attention as long as it’s based on this team and I’m just one man, one of 53, so we’ll see what happens and I’m excited about the opportunity.
On the Packers fans moving on…
I can’t answer that for them, all I can say is I’ve always wanted to be a Packer. I think I always will be a Packer. Sixteen years is hard to forget for everyone and I’d like to think that those 16 years, people will say ‘it’s the best 16 years I’ve ever watched.’ It was a lot of fun for me. I think it was made clear this offseason that they were moving forward. Some things happened in between that and that’s OK and it’s time for me to move on. I had forgotten that I had been traded 17 or 18 years ago and what that process was like.
It’s a little bit different scenario now but I’m really excited. It’s refreshing, not that I needed that. I think to the fans, I would say ‘continue to be Brett Favre fans.’ There may be some who say ‘no.’ And for those people, maybe they were not die-hard Brett Favre fans to begin with. Packer fans are Packer fans, there’s a 40,000 or more waiting list for a reason and that will continue. It’s a great tradition. I’m thankful that I was a part of it. I’m not a traitor. I never will be. It’s a business and that’s the way it works. I gave everything I possibly could give while I was there and I don’t think people will question that and I hope that the Jet fans see the same thing and so I hope I continue to have fans all over, that’s what we play for.
On if No. 4 will be retired in Green Bay…
I hadn’t really thought about it. I’m sure it will at some point but you know what, they talk about statues they talk about having streets [named after you]. I’m not just talking about me, you hear that throughout sports, that’s not what it’s about with me. It’s like records I gained at Southern Mississippi. I look back and my experience there is much more important than the records and when and if that ever happens, great. I don’t need a jersey retired, a statue or a street named after me or anything like that for people to remember me, for me to feel like I’ve done something. I think the way I’ve played, the way I’ve handled myself is the most important thing, and I think it will be postponed for a while.
On why he wouldn’t talk to Tannenbaum until 24 hours ago…
I’ll tell you exactly why. The decision or decisions that were made this whole offseason, right or wrong, I knew I was going to be faced with another tough one, whereas if you’re dealing with one team, the decision is easy. [James] Bus [Cook] would say ‘at least talk to him.’ Several other people in this room said the same thing, ‘talk to him.’ I told Bus that if I talk to him that we’re going to be scratching our heads saying ‘now what do we do?’ I knew I would be convinced. Jon Gruden, I tip my hat to him too. It was a long time ago when we were working together but he sold me as well. There’s nothing more to it than that. I knew it would make it a real tough decision. Mike is a worker, I woke up this morning and the trigger was pulled.
On how he was convinced to come to New York…
I was never not interested in the Jets. I think my interest at first, I’m sure as we all know, was to stay within our division. Maybe that was a little bit of a vindictive nature or competitive nature or whatever. I think in the end that was probably the wrong motive and I realized that was not going to happen. That’s only one or two games a year playing against your old team so you still have a lot more to play. It had nothing to do with other teams. I look at the talent level and believe me, I heard it from [Tannenbaum]. I was sent everything about the Jets you can imagine, it was sent to my house and he told me everything I needed to know.
He was convincing, I knew this team had a lot of talent. I knew they struggled last year and he went out and worked his tail off. I know he’s worn out. He’s relieved now but I know at the end of the season he’s going to be more relieved. There came a point when I realized my initial thoughts were not going to come true, that I had to look elsewhere. I haven’t played in New York. I’m a south Mississippi boy. [Mike] came to my place today and he saw it’s a little bit different, it’s a little laid back. I know how tough it can be and I know how great it can be in New York city. Am I ready to face it, handle it and deal with it? I think so. I think it’s a great opportunity.
On being on a big stage in New York…
Kind of like the last month? [joking]. Green Bay is a small market but is there a bigger team? I’ve been in front of a lot of media. I’ve been in big games. I’ve won big games. I’ve lost big games. I’ve had my share of criticism and glory. This is unique. I haven’t faced anything like this. I don’t know anyone in this locker room and to a certain degree I really don’t know what I’m getting in to. I’m talking about it from a team standpoint. What can I do in a short amount of time to get this team where we want to go and get myself ready? It doesn’t matter what city it’s in. I’m here for one reason, not to do commercials, Broadway, all those things. I’m here to help the Jets win, that’s why they got me.
On how he will get himself ready…
You have to dive into it. The only way you’re going to know these guys, know how they play, know the coaches is to be in meetings, is to go to practice. Now I’d be kidding myself if I thought after the second day I wouldn’t be walking on eggshells, my feet will be hurting, shoulder will be hurting, all the fun things about camp. That is the way you build chemistry.
To me the most important aspect of winning is chemistry. You can have the best players possible, but it doesn’t guarantee you wins. Chemistry, how you play together and I think the Giants are a good example of that. They started off shaky last year with the same guys. The chemistry got better and they got better. We’re up against the clock. I want these guys to know me, know what I’m about, how I play, what type of leadership I have. I’m not going to call team meetings, I’m not going to ‘rah-rah,’ I’m going to do what I have to do, pat guys on my back, hug them, pick them up off the ground and hope they do the same for me and hope that’s enough to win.
On why things went bad in Green Bay…
That’s a good question. I think we’re probably both at fault. I’m not going to sit here and blame it all on one side or the other. A lot of things happened this offseason, a lot of shocking things. I think we’re both at fault. Who is at fault more? It’s a matter of opinion but I really think at this point it’s irrelevant. They probably are tired of talking about it. I know it’s great for the media, it’s a great soap opera but I’ve got a lot of respect for the guys in Green Bay. I said last year and I said the year before that, that is was probably the most talented team I’d ever played on and everybody thought I was crazy.
I still think the same. I think they have as good a chance as anyone in this league of getting back to not only where they were but to the Super Bowl. I had a lot of fun with those guys,the coaching staff. We had some differences between myself and a couple other people. But you know what? There’s nothing like Green Bay fans. That team is going to be good with or without me and it really serves no purpose to continue talking about it. I know people will try to fuel the fire throughout the season, but once again, I’m here for one reason and that’s to help the Jets win. I don’t think they need to be asked questions about it. I hope that they are left alone so they can deal with what they have to deal with. The same thing for Green Bay, at some point it has to be let go.