Mike Tannenbaum, Brett Favre
Jet X Graphic, Getty Images

The story of the 2008 New York Jets with Kerry Rhodes hits part two of the saga, which introduces the Brett Favre acquisition.

Brett Lorenzo Favre was born Oct. 10, 1969 in Gulfport, Mississippi. The second of four children, Favre excelled in both baseball and football at Hancock North Central High School. While he played multiple positions on the football team, Favre was most notably the team’s quarterback, running a wishbone offense that rarely required him to throw. A system designed almost entirely to de-emphasize the quarterback may not seem all that strange to you until you consider that Favre’s father, Irvin, was the team’s head coach, one looking to keep the spotlight off his son.

Well, yeah… that is definitely uncommon, to say the least. In fact, Favre did so little in his father’s offensive scheme – barely even throwing passes at all – that one college coach who came to scout North Central’s players barely noticed him until out of nowhere, Southern Miss assistant Mark McHale saw a Favre throw a pass that looked like it was shot out of a rifle. As McHale would later recall, on that pass, the ball that came out of Favre’s hands looked like it “had smoke and flames coming off it.”

Favre made enough of an impression that McHale urged Southern Miss to offer him a scholarship—an offer that would turn out to be the only one Favre would get. Southern Miss wanted Favre to play defensive back, but he was determined to play quarterback. His will would be tested right away, as Favre entered his freshman year seventh on the depth chart. But through hard work, determination and a little luck, he finally got his chance during the second half of the third game of the 1987 season and never looked back.

Favre would go 6-4 as a starter his first year, and over the course of his career at Southern Miss, he would go on to set numerous school records and compile some incredible victories, including a come-from-behind win over No. 6 Florida State his Junior year.

But Favre’s biggest accomplishment in college was simply staying alive.

On Sept. 14, 1990, shortly before the start of his Senior season, Favre was involved in a terrible accident that saw his life nearly taken after his car flipped over three times. Favre was rushed to the hospital and despite having much of his small intestine removed, he somehow managed to survive. And as if that were not incredible enough, a mere six weeks after the accident, Favre led Southern Miss to a stunning come from behind victory against the mighty Alabama Crimson Tide.

There was no question by this point that Brett Favre was relentless, a trait any team would love to have in its quarterback. So, it should be no surprise that Favre generated plenty of interest from pro teams leading up to the 1991 NFL Draft. One such team, the New York Jets, highly coveted Favre, with the team’s then-assistant general manager Ron Wolf having convinced the rest of the front office that the Southern Miss quarterback should be Gang Green’s pick with its second-round pick, the 34th overall selection.

You may be thinking, “Why not target Favre in the first round if the Jets felt so strongly about him?”

Two words: Rob Moore.

The Jets had selected Moore – a 6-foot-3, 200-pound wide receiver out of Syracuse – in the 1990 supplemental draft. Moore, who was a local boy having been born and raised in Hempstead, NY, would go on to a successful run with the Jets, putting together five strong seasons – including a pro bowl campaign in 1994 that yielded over 1,000 yards receiving – before being traded to Arizona during the 1995 offseason in exchange for a first-round pick (used to select 1995 Defensive Rookie of the Year defensive end Hugh Douglas), a fourth-round pick (used to select OT Melvin Hayes) and running back Ronald Moore.

Moore would go on to have five more strong years in Arizona – including a 97 catch 1,584-yard All-Pro season in 1997 – before retiring at the end of 1999. The wide receiver clearly delivered for the Jets during his time with the team and yielded an excellent return when traded, but his selection meant the Jets would not be able to pursue Favre in the first round, as the Jets had surrendered their 1991 first-rounder in exchange for the right to draft Moore with that 1990 supplemental pick.

Legend has it the Jets attempted to trade up in the 1991 draft to acquire the apple of their eye, but much to Wolf’s chagrin, the team could not get a deal done. Even more unfortunately for Wolf and the Jets, Favre did not make it to the 34th selection, as the Atlanta Falcons snagged him one pick earlier at No. 33 overall. With the apple of their eye off the board, the Jets were forced to settle for plan b: Louisville quarterback Browning Nagle, who had drawn comparisons to then Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly – a future Pro Football Hall of Famer – due in large part to the tutelage both men received at the hands of the legendary college coach Howard Schnellenberger.

***This is Part 2 of an extended series for subscribers only on the 2008 New York Jets, including an audio documentary featuring Kerry Rhodes at its conclusion.


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