At 6:00pm tonight I got on a conference call with the now-former quarterback Brett Favre. When questioned as to whether this really was his final retirement announcement, he replied, "Yes, it's the real deal." And this time, I believe him.
It took about 10 hours or so for Favre himself to finally weigh-in, in person, on his own retirement. Let me take you through a bit of my Favre-ian-day prior to that moment.
Around 9 or 10am - I learned that Favre had announced his retirement via ESPN.
11:35am - I received an email and a phone call from the Jets public relations office notifying me of a telephone conference call with owner Woody Johnson and GM Mike Tannenbaum to take place at noon.
12noon - Said telephone press conference.
2:53pm - I received an email and phone call from Jets PR notifying me of a telephone conference call with Brett Favre to take place at 6:00pm.
3:24pm - I received an email and phone call from Jets PR notifying me of a telephone conference call with Kellen Clemens to take place at 4:00pm.
3:44pm - Email and phone call from Jets PR notifying me of a telephone conference call with head coach Rex Ryan to take place at 5:15pm.
4:05pm - Conference call with Clemens. Approximately 20 minutes long.
5:15pm - Conference call with Ryan. Approximately 20 minutes long.
6:00pm - Brett Favre.
6:32pm - Received via email the official announcement from the Jets that they had placed Favre on their Reserved/Retired list.
Now, for the nitty gritty. Unlike his live press conference during last year's retirement, Favre was exceedingly calm throughout the entire call. I wouldn't say there was no emotion in his voice, but I would describe his tone as more pensive and reflective. There was no choking up, no pauses. He was very straightforward, polite and relaxed as he took calls from New York, national and Green Bay reporters.
The decision finally came down to the fact that Favre - who insisted until the last game of the season that he was fine - felt that physically he wasn't sure he could regroup.
Favre has a partially torn tendon in his right (throwing) shoulder and would need arthroscopic surgery to even entertain thoughts of playing again. He could risk not having the surgery and see if it healed on its own, but that might put the whole shoulder in permanent jeopardy and he felt that at this point, it wasn't worth it.
The comment from him that gave the most insight: "Physically, if I felt better, we might not be having this conversation." Hmmm. Why did the Jets medical staff let things get this far?
As for what he did on his first official day of retirement back home in Mississippi, "I was on the bulldozer pushing some downed trees and doing a little bit of yard work."
As for Kellen Clemens, he was appropriately deferential about Favre (whose acquisition effectively ended last year's quarterback "competition" and put Clemens on the bench) and then forthright about his own future role.
"I tried to learn as much as I could from Brett. He was very generous with the wealth of knowledge he had," Clemens said. "The good news I have for you is that as of December 29th...I took the mindset and approach that [Favre] wasn't coming back. I've been approaching this off-season with my preparation geared toward being the starter in 2009."
Rex Ryan stuck to the basic script that the team will look at all of their opportunities, but to be fair, given the fact that free agency hasn't started yet, there isn't a lot he can say without jeopardizing Draft picks.
However, he said several times that we should expect to see the Jets run the ball a lot more - good news for everyone who watched Leon Washington seemingly disappear from the offense last season. Beyond that, he was complimentary to all three quarterbacks currently on the roster (Clemens, Brett Ratliff and Erik Ainge) so we'll have to wait a bit and see how all of that plays out.
I thought the above photo (taken by Winslow Townson for AP) encapsulated how most of us will remember Favre on the field.