The reaction from Jets quarterback Brett Favre was quick and direct:
“Terrible, just terrible.” The reaction from some Jets fans, and this is a wild guess here, was probably also quick and direct: “Great, just great.” Both responses, you can understand. As a fellow quarterback and someone who’s well aware of the viciousness and danger that goes with the territory, Favre saw nothing good to emerge from the season-ending hit suffered Sunday by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. On the flip side, while no human being with a working heart would wish bodily harm on another, a fair amount of Jets Nation no doubt followed their fans’ instincts and basically said: Hey, we got a shot now. Well, put me with Favre. What happened to Brady was terrible. This isn’t the time to whoop it up or re-examine your team’s odds in Vegas (they just got better). This is a time for sorrow and pity, if that can be bestowed on a famous, multimillionaire, Super Bowl-blinged quarterback who dashes around the globe with a supermodel squeeze on his throwing arm.
Yes, even fortunate guys like Brady deserve a heartfelt get-well card from every football fan, not just those in New England. The NFL is a worse league today because Brady isn’t preparing for Sunday’s game with the Jets. He isn’t getting ready for some football. He’s bracing for the knife, months of grueling rehab and lots of worrying whether he’ll ever be the same quarterback again. With Brady out, the league lost a little luster and appeal and gate attraction. This guy is one of a select handful of athletes on the planet in any sport that you’d pay to see, maybe even pay a personal seat license to see.
Suddenly, poof, he’s an armchair quarterback.
Almost immediately, all around the AFC, folks began to wonder how Brady’s injury affected their team. Certainly, there’s concealed glee in San Diego and Indianapolis and Pittsburgh and no doubt in certain parts of New York, where a Favre-inspired win in the season opener against the Dolphins stirred plenty of fantasies. Plus, the timing couldn’t be more delicious, from the Jets’ standpoint, with the Patriots en route to the Meadowlands, where the atmosphere will be poisonous for the visitors.
How would you like to be Matt Cassel, the emergency relief pitcher, going up against Favre?
What’s really disappointing is how Fate not only dealt a big blow to Brady, but to us, as well. This game was one to circle in red, if only because the matchup between Brady and Favre was one to anticipate. This had the makings of a terrific duel between quarterbacks who’ll one day have their bronze busts side by side in Canton. Yet, a shootout has been diverted and taken off our checklist of games to watch.
The Jets played it coy when asked about Brady’s injury, partly because it would’ve come across as cold if they cheered, partly because they feel like Favre does. Yet, human nature also makes them believe that, hey, this could work in their favor.
On that note, the Jets better be careful. As much as Brady meant to the Patriots, they’re not going to suddenly morph into the 49ers. Also, the Jets have plenty of other teams in the AFC to worry about. And finally, the Jets should keep in mind how they went to Miami and had to sweat a victory over a team that won only once last season. Basically, the Jets need to worry about themselves first.
Even if the loss of Brady somehow improves the Jets’ chances of winning the division, wouldn’t it be a lot sweeter had they challenged the Patriots with Brady healthy? Isn’t that the truer test of a team and how far it has come since 4-12 a year ago?
Really, now: Wouldn’t the Jets rather see Brady taking snaps Sunday?
OK, dumb question.
All we know right now is the Jets have reason for hope while the Patriots have reason to worry. The most accomplished championship winner in the NFL is done for the year and his absence will impact not only his team, but others. Maybe even the Jets.
This, however, shouldn’t serve as a green light to gloat, just because a great quarterback must spend the rest of the season on a sofa watching football.
Sure, he’ll be sitting next to Giselle Bundchen, but still.