Brett Favre retiring proves Jets' acumen

At the time, most thought it was a good thing.

The New York Jets were simply desperate to win big. That's why they bit on Brett Favre in 2008.

But to the Jets' credit, they got over Favre, the most selfish player on the planet, in a hurry and didn't let him paint them into a corner.

The Jets could have been the Minnesota Vikings right now, standing alone at the altar and wondering what to do next.

That's how the Vikings appear after numerous sources reported that Favre texted teammates and said his left ankle has not responded well enough to surgery and that he would retire -- just six weeks before the NFL season begins.

The Jets didn't try to hold on to the false hope that Favre would eventually deliver the Super Bowl title they have been looking for since their first -- and only one -- in 1969. They cut bait and put a real plan into motion, a plan that has Gang Green entering the 2010 season as AFC favorites picked by many to make it to the Super Bowl for the first time in more than 40 years.

That hasn't happened since ... never.

For that, the Jets should get credit and take a bow.

And Jets fans -- many of whom wasted $75 on that ugly No. 4 Favre jersey -- shouldn't be upset. After all, you have a chance to really get where you wanted to go. And this time, you could get there with your own guy, Mark Sanchez, not the old Green Bay Packers quarterback on loan because he just couldn't say goodbye to the game he played for nearly 20 seasons.

The Jets don't have to gloat or say another word.

They know they made all the right moves after freeing Frankenstein and returning to building a team the right way, not by putting together a do-it-yourself Super-Bowl-quarterback kit.

It seldom works. Not even with a quarterback with statistics galore, MVPs galore and touchdowns galore.

Minnesota, even more desperate to win big, simply ignored the final five games of the 2008 season when Farve was terrible -- throwing eight interceptions and just two touchdowns -- and cost the Jets, who lost four of the final five games, a playoff berth.

In the short run, the Vikings were right. Favre bounced back and had a wonderful 2009 season, winning 12 games and throwing 33 touchdowns and just seven picks.

Despite all that, the Vikings didn't get what they wanted. They were on the outside looking in on yet another Super Bowl.

The Jets saw there was no future in Favre. Had they tried to force the issue for a second season in NYC, they would have been on pins and needles. Life wouldn't have been about football. It would have been a never-ending guessing game of will he or won't he.

The Jets' brain trust put together a plan. They fired underachieving coach Eric Mangini. They hired Rex Ryan as coach and focused on defense, the way most championships are won.

The Jets traded up and drafted Sanchez and released Favre.

With Sanchez, the Jets made it just as far as Favre did in 2009, getting to the conference championship.

The Packers have to feel the same way the Jets do. They let Favre go following the 2007 season after he led them to the NFC Championship Game. They were tired of the guessing game, too.

Green Bay wanted to secure its future with quarterback Aaron Rodgers. And now, if Favre is done, the Packers all of a sudden become the favorites to win the NFC North.

Sadly, many are still skeptical that this is indeed the last we've seen of Favre in the NFL.

"It's like believing in Santa Claus," Packers linebacker Nick Barnett told The Associated Press about the report. "You get gifts, but you ain't seen Santa Claus. We'll see what happens. ... If he does retire, congratulations. It's a well-deserved retirement. But if he does come back, we'll be gunning for him the same way."

There was a time when most believed Favre was a one of a kind. He was a classic throwback in an era of cookie-cutter quarterbacks. It wound up not to be true.

It was always about him, nothing else.

The Jets figured it out quickly.

The Vikings, it appears, had to wait for the roof to cave in on them.

Rob Parker is a columnist for ESPNNewYork.com.

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