(AP Photo/Mark Duncan)
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - Brett Favre was having fun again.
His tearful retirement and tumultuous offseason were tucked away
in his memory. Favre was back where he's always been happiest: in
the huddle with thousands of cheers providing a perfect soundtrack.
"It's like starting all over again," the New York Jets' new quarterback said. "I had some feelings that I haven't felt in 17 years."
After throwing a touchdown pass to cap his second series against
Washington in his Jets debut Saturday night, Favre urged coach Eric
Mangini to let him play some more.
"He said, 'Let me think about it,"' Favre said. "As he turned away, he turned back and said, 'I thought about it."'
Sorry, Brett. You'll have to wait until next Saturday against the defending Super Bowl champion Giants.
"This is one of those times where everything seemed to be clicking," Favre said. "We'd like to have scored on the first drive. All in all, it was good. I was OK with it."
Favre was solid in his brief Jets debut after a week of cramming to learn his new playbook. Just 10 days after being acquired from Green Bay, Favre finished 5-of-6 for 48 yards and threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Dustin Keller in a 13-10 loss to the Redskins.
"It worked out better than I thought it would, not that I thought it would go badly," he said.
Saying it felt "a little weird" wearing a Jets uniform, Favre was on the field for 14 plays and Mangini said the three-time MVP had between 30 and 40 plays to work with.
"I thought I threw the ball well and moved around OK," Favre said. "Ten days ago, I was doing yard work."
Favre retired in March and then decided he still wanted to play, leading to a bitter divorce with Green Bay. He said his arm felt tired Wednesday and had his throws limited in his final two practices leading up to the game, but showed no signs of weariness against the Redskins.
"He was the same old Brett," receiver Jerricho Cotchery said. "Very much in control of the huddle, like he always is, and very much in control of the game. And that allowed us to be in control as an offense, as a unit. We felt like everything that we were going to run was going to work."
Favre, in his first game since losing to the Giants in the NFC championship in January, got things started quickly. He zipped an 11-yard pass into Cotchery's hands on his first play, and tossed a 10-yarder to Chris Baker two plays later.
The Jets converted a fourth-and-1 on a 3-yard run by Thomas Jones, but Favre was sacked two plays later. After Favre was short on a pass to Jones, the Jets were forced to punt.
On the next possession, Favre found Cotchery on a nice crossing
route for a 19-yard gain on third down. Three plays later, Favre took the snap, looked to his left and found Keller in the end zone to give the Jets a 7-0 lead with 5:25 remaining in the first quarter.
"It was an excellent start," Mangini said. "He moved the team down the field and put us in a position to score."
That's the type of presence Favre brings to a team that hasn't been to the Super Bowl in 40 years, when Joe Namath - the Jets' last superstar quarterback - led the franchise to its only title.
"I felt like I'm a Jet, I do," Favre said. "Does that sound a little awkward or funny? Maybe a little bit. Believe me, I feel very comfortable here. The guys have been great. They've welcomed me. ... I feel like I'm here for a reason. As I've told the guys, 'I'm here for one reason, to help you win.' I'll do whatever that takes and I hope it works out."
Favre spent the previous 16 seasons with the Packers, becoming an icon with his gritty playmaking ability and rifle right arm. The fans in Green Bay always knew they could count on him to show up on Sundays as Favre has played in a record 253 regular-season games.
His close-cropped hair and the ever-present stubble on his face are speckled with gray these days, but his desire to play football - which some doubted - clearly remains.
Gone are the troubling thoughts that swirled through Favre's mind, that maybe he made the wrong choice by leaving retirement and Green Bay behind.
"Obviously a lot of things have gone on the last few months," he said. "I'm not going to sit here and say I haven't second-guessed decisions, not only this year but along the way. One thing I know for sure, when I stepped on the field, as I did tonight, I knew I made the right decision."
Favre has been careful to say all the right things since joining the Jets on Aug. 6, guaranteeing nothing except his best effort.
"We're a team and I'm just one piece of this puzzle," Favre said. "At some point, we have to go on and focus on what we're trying to do as a team and not on one person."
But Favre isn't just anyone. And his teammates have quickly discovered that.
"He's definitely much more relaxed than you would think he was," Keller said. "He has been in this offense for what, a week? As fast as he has been getting everything, it's ridiculous."
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)