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Archive for Saturday, August 9, 2008

Favre steps on big stage

New York welcomes new QB with hoopla

August 9, 2008

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New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, left, presents new New York Jets quarterback Brett Favre with a Broadway street sign at a news conference. The media event was Friday at New York's City Hall.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, left, presents new New York Jets quarterback Brett Favre with a Broadway street sign at a news conference. The media event was Friday at New York's City Hall.

— Cameras flashing by the dozens, a wide-eyed Brett Favre took his first steps into the New York spotlight.

"Just like home," the Jets' newest quarterback said Friday with a deep breath and a sheepish grin.

Get used to it, Brett. This is only the beginning.

"Time will tell, but I don't want to say, 'Be patient,"' Favre said Friday at a City Hall news conference. "I have to get a lot done in a short amount of time. They wouldn't have signed me if they didn't think I could do that."

Having won three MVPs and led two Green Bay teams to the Super Bowl, Favre is more than just a country boy from Mississippi. But even he seemed a little awed by his welcome to jaded New York. Mayor Michael Bloomberg greeted him, showering the star quarterback with a number of gifts - including some cheesecakes - designed to help with his transition.

"The legendary No. 4 has now become Jet Favre," Bloomberg said, "and we're delighted to welcome him to City Hall."

The Jets acquired the recently unretired Favre from the Packers for a conditional draft pick late Wednesday night. He was with the team for its preseason-opening victory at Cleveland, flew into town early Friday morning and quickly popped in for his City Hall visit.

The Hall of Famer in waiting will practice with his new teammates for the first time today after passing his physical. After his meeting with the mayor, Favre headed to the team's facility and took his conditioning test, joined in team meetings and got better acquainted with his teammates.

"I know I still can play," said Favre, wearing a blue and white polo shirt and khaki slacks and sporting his familiar 5 o'clock shadow. "I don't think too many people question that. I think a lot of people question what happened this offseason."

Favre closed a summer of discontent and opened a new chapter in his career by joining the Jets, who stunned the NFL by outbidding the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the iconic QB. He brings instant relevance to a team that went 4-12 last season and hasn't had a quarterback of his stature since Joe Namath ruled Manhattan more than 30 years ago.

"There's no guarantees," Favre said. "You see teams go out in free agency and spend on a lot of guys and everyone says, 'Oh, they're going to be great and go to the Super Bowl.' It takes chemistry, and to me, that's the most important thing. You can have all the talent in the world, but if the chemistry is not there, it won't matter.

"I think we can achieve that."

After a huddle with staff members, Bloomberg picked out a few things to help Favre "make a quick adjustment" to the Big Apple. As part of the city's initiative to plant a million trees by 2017, Bloomberg announced one would be planted in Favre's name.

"I cannot tell you where the tree is going to be, for obvious reasons, because it'll be stripped bare in about 30 seconds," said Bloomberg, wearing a green tie in honor of the Jets.

Bloomberg then presented Favre with a MetroCard - with $4 fare on it, of course.

"If you had picked a number higher, you would've gotten more money on your MetroCard," Bloomberg said, drawing laughs.

He also gave Favre a huge "Broadway" street sign, a copy of his book, "Bloomberg by Bloomberg," an empty key ring - "You win the Super Bowl and I promise you will get a key" - and a few cheesecakes from Junior's Cheesecakes.

Favre, joined by Jets owner Woody Johnson and general manager Mike Tannenbaum, presented Bloomberg with a green and white Favre jersey, already a hit with fans who have snatched up over 6,500 of them since the trade. The 38-year-old Favre, who joked that his daughter asked if he was joining a college team because all the other players look much younger, won't commit to playing for the Jets beyond this season.

"Let's enjoy this year," he said. "The future is now. I don't have 17 more years to play, I don't think. I want to give the New York Jets and the people of this city the best year possible. Believe me."

Favre is coming off one of his most productive seasons, passing for 4,155 yards, his most since 1998, and had 28 TDs with 15 interceptions.

"We wish Brett nothing but the best," said Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Favre's replacement. "He still has the utmost amount of respect from the guys in this locker room here and we wish him well, wish him a good season and hope to see him in Tampa."

That, of course, is the site of the next Super Bowl.

Five months after a tearfully retiring, and a month after changing his mind, Favre is starting over. His new teammates are glad he is.

"There have been smiling faces around here all day," said Jets tight end Bubba Franks, who played eight seasons with Favre in Green Bay. "It is good to have him here. When you play with a legend, you can't help but feed off of it."

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