Kansas City, Mo. If you ever needed proof that there is a higher power occasionally dabbling in sports, this whole Pennington-Favre thing provides some pretty convincing evidence.
“This is the only way fate would have it, right?” said Chad Pennington, the quarterback currently benefiting from the apparent divine intervention.
How else would you explain this scenario? The Jets so desperately craved Brett Favre that, upon trading for him, they immediately waived Pennington and ship him home from a preseason game in Cleveland. Favre is welcomed to New York like a king, or even a god, bringing Super Bowl aspirations out of retirement with him. The exiled Pennington, meanwhile, goes to Miami, where two wins would’ve been considered a significant improvement and double-figure wins would’ve been deemed, well, a miracle.
Favre is everything Pennington wasn’t: a risk-taker, a gunslinger, a champion. Pennington was the caretaker whose job was merely to hold the Dolphins quarterback position until another Chad (Henne) was prepared to take it.
Nearly five months later, Pennington will head back to New York with a chance to win the AFC East because he has played the caretaker role to perfection. Favre, meanwhile, will need another miracle to make the game against Miami meaningful (the Jets need either the Patriots or Ravens to lose, but they’re running out of souls to sell) because the gambler has thrown six interceptions to one touchdown in losing three of his last four.
Universe, you win.
“There wouldn’t be any other scenario,” Pennington said after the Dolphins pulled out a 38-31 win against the Chiefs in air so cold that players devoured chicken broth on the sideline to keep from freezing. “This is how the game of football works.
“This is how sports works.”
Rarely, though, does a chance at redemption come this quickly, or with this much meaning.
Pennington continues to convince anyone who’s listening that he believed the Dolphins could accomplish something special with him at the helm this year, and that he believed from the start that a playoff spot could’ve been at stake when he faced his former team in the final game of the season.
But even the most optimistic of competitors had to consider it the longest of long shots. And even Pennington had to believe the Jets would never truly regret their decision to swap a player with two career playoff wins for the league’s all-time leading passer.
Yet here he is, six days away from teaching the Jets the definition of regret.
“What a stage we’ve set,” Vonnie Holliday said.
Of course, Holliday was referring to the entire Dolphins team and its unprecedented recovery from 1-15, but Pennington is directly in the middle of any conversation that involves Dolphins-Jets this week.
Pennington was the New York Jets for the better part of six seasons. But when Favre became available, Pennington was shoved out the door so unceremoniously that only President Bush could understand the feeling.
Pennington’s ego should feel pretty healthy now after setting a career high for passing yards in a season.
As a result, the Dolphins have been supposedly in control of their own fate for the past few weeks.
Fate, actually, appears to have been in control the entire time.