Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Brett Favre in New York

There have been many accomplished athletes who switch teams late in their careers, and many who have switched teams into New York City. But Brett Favre's arrival with the Jets has an even larger carnival-like atmosphere than I could have ever imagined.

Why is this happening? Certainly it's big news any time a team acquires a HOF-caliber player. But even most HOF-caliber acquisitions don't get press conferences at City Hall and "Broadway" signs. And it's been a week since his acquisition but ESPN is still doing daily training camp updates from Jets camp.

First, I think since the Brett Favre retirement saga was big news in the national media to begin with, the resolution has now led to increased focus on Favre. Second, since the Jets were such a surprise team from this trade, and in general the timing was surprising and last minute, there is a bigger reaction. Finally, although the Olympics are going on, there aren't many other stories in pro sports.

I'm not sure how successful this trade will make the Jets, but I am sure it has raised the expectations significantly for the team. That's not always a good thing. Lately, I've been noticing that NY sports fans (but especially Mets and Jets fans) seem to get really upset when the high expectations they have for their teams are not met. Chad Pennington was easily and frequently cheered and then booed. What will be his reception the first game he comes back as a Dolphin? Mets fans, in particular, are boo crazy and there is significant overlap from Mets to Jets.

The Jets season may start off bumpy. If there's ever a game Miami can steal, it will be week 1, with the Jets on the road, new QB and the general problems teams run into on week 1. Then the Jets go on to face the Pats and Chargers. Of course, Chad Pennington loved to feast on the Chargers (he beat them in their last 3 match-ups, including a 44-13 whipping while the Jets struggled and the Chargers were 6-1). Then Arizona, the team everyone always thinks will be better. So it could easily be a 2-2 or 1-3 start. Not so favorable. Fortunately the BYE week then comes up and the schedule is pretty good overall.

Another interesting comment I've heard - the Patriots have the easiest schedule in the league and the Jets one of the hardest. Well, sure that's true if you look by opponent's record. But their only opponents that differ are the Jets face the Bengals and Titans, whereas the Pats face the Steelers and Colts. So what accounts for the disparity? Easy - if you calculate the Jets' opponents records, you need to factor in the 16-0 Patriots twice. Whereas when you factor the Pats' opponents records, you put in the 4-12 Jets twice. But actually the schedule is only different in those two games. So yes, technically the Jets' schedule is harder because they play the Patriots, but the Patriots don't have to play against themselves.

Interesting to watch for: at what point will Brett Favre say "we" and "us" instead of "this team" and "these guys"? The latter phrases sound much more like an outsider looking in.

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