Brett Favre retires after 18 seasons in NFL

Published 12:14 am Thursday, February 12, 2009

NEW YORK (AP) — Brett Favre swears this is the real deal — no more last-minute comebacks.

The 39-year-old quarterback retired again Wednesday and insisted he won’t look back. Well, at least for now.

‘‘I have no reason to wonder why you would be so skeptical,’’ Favre said Wednesday with a slight chuckle after announcing he was leaving the game after 18 record-setting seasons.

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Favre, who retired last March only to return a few months later, kept this goodbye simple — no tearful farewell or jam-packed news conference. He spoke to the New York Jets on Wednesday morning, telling owner Woody Johnson, general manager Mike Tannenbaum and coach Rex Ryan that he was calling it a career.

‘‘I have family and friends who are like, ‘All right, Brett. Is this the real deal?’’’ Favre said during a conference call. ‘‘To me, it is. It is. Believe me. It’s been a wonderful career, I couldn’t ask for anything more. It was worth a shot for me to go to New York. I wish I could’ve played better down the stretch. I didn’t.

‘‘It’s time to leave.’’

The Jets placed Favre on the reserve-retired list, meaning the quarterback’s retirement paperwork had been filed with the NFL — something he didn’t do last winter with the Packers.

‘‘Emotionally, I’m OK with it,’’ said Favre, who spent the day on his bulldozer and doing yard work on the grounds at his home in Kiln, Miss. ‘‘I really felt like it was time. Obviously, the circumstances last year were a lot different. Physically, if I felt better, we may not be having this conversation, but I think that’s more than anything the writing on the wall.’’

His decision came six weeks after his only season with the Jets ended in disappointment as New York went 1-4 down the stretch and failed to make the playoffs.

A major reason for the collapse was Favre, who threw nine interceptions in those five games. He said he played with a torn biceps tendon in his right shoulder that got worse later in the season and needed a cortisone injection after the team’s game at San Francisco in Week 14.

‘‘It’s something that obviously I was able to play with,’’ he said. ‘‘I don’t think I was nearly as productive as the season progressed, but it very well could be fine next year. I’m well aware of that. But then again, it could linger and bother me throughout the year and I just felt like it was time. I think that, to me more than anything, was a wakeup call.’’

Favre insisted that even if his shoulder felt better next season, he’s still done with playing.

‘‘It’s nothing I would second-guess, no,’’ he said.

If this is indeed it for Favre, he leaves the game with a slew of records, including career touchdown passes (464), completions (5,720), yards passing (65,127), regular-season victories (169) and interceptions (310).

‘‘With Brett, there was always the possibility that he wouldn’t play the second year,’’ Johnson said. ‘‘We were hoping to get one good year out of Brett Favre. We picked him based on, in our opinion, his giving us the best chance to win last season. We were disappointed not to have made the Super Bowl, but we did some very good things with Brett.’’

The team improved from 4-12 in 2007 to 9-7, but the late-season woes cost Eric Mangini his job — and perhaps tarnished Favre’s legacy a bit.

‘‘I honestly believe I did everything I could do,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m proud of everything I’ve done.’’

New York hired Ryan to replace Mangini, and he, along with Johnson and Tannenbaum, repeatedly said they wanted Favre to return. Instead, Favre spent several weeks after the season at home — at the suggestion of Tannenbaum — away from football before deciding to retire.

‘‘It would’ve been fantastic to be coaching Brett,’’ Ryan said. ‘‘It’s a sad day to see him leave, to see him retiring.’’

New York now will move forward with a new quarterback, whether that will be Kellen Clemens, Brett Ratliff or Erik Ainge.

‘‘I think it’s going to be a great competition between those three,’’ Ryan said. ‘‘And if something else comes along, so be it.’’

The Jets could look to sign a veteran free agent such as Jeff Garcia, Kerry Collins, Byron Leftwich or Rex Grossman, or target a quarterback with their first pick — No. 17 overall — in the draft in April.

Clemens was competing with Chad Pennington for the starting job last summer before Favre came to town.

‘‘Jets fans, the Jets coaches and my teammates, even, have not seen the best of what I have to offer yet,’’ said Clemens, who started eight games in 2007.

Favre had two years left on his contract and was due $13 million for next season, clearing a chunk of salary cap space for the Jets.

The three-time NFL MVP holds the mark among quarterbacks with 291 consecutive starts, including the playoffs, despite playing through several injuries throughout his career.

‘‘The longevity of his career and his love for the game is truly inspiring,’’ All-Pro kick returner-running back Leon Washington told The Associated Press. ‘‘I’m privileged to have played with not only a Hall of Fame QB, but also a great role model.’’

After the Jets’ season-ending 24-17 loss to Miami, Favre said he felt discomfort in his arm ‘‘for quite a while.’’ It turned out to be a torn biceps tendon, and he opted not to have surgery.

Favre said he began to realize the end might be near when he consistently underthrew his receivers at Seattle in Week 16.

‘‘I threw it, and it didn’t end up where I wanted it to,’’ he said. ‘‘That, to me, was an eye-opener.’’

It wasn’t all bad with the Jets for Favre. He threw a career-high six touchdown passes, tying Joe Namath’s team record, in a 56-35 victory over Arizona in Week 4. Favre also helped rejuvenate the franchise, drawing thousands of fans to training camp practices.

He finished with 3,472 yards passing and 22 touchdowns, but the 22 interceptions were his most in three seasons.

Drafted by Atlanta in the second round of the 1991 draft, Favre was traded after the season to Green Bay for a first-round pick. During his 16 seasons with Green Bay, he helped lead the Packers to consecutive Super Bowls, including a victory over New England in 1997.

‘‘Congratulations to Brett on a remarkable career,’’ the Packers said in a statement. ‘‘The Packers organization wishes him and his family well. Brett always will hold a special place in Green Bay Packers history, and we remain committed to retiring his number at an appropriate time in the future.’’