Favre's post-Pack exile with the Jets began well with an 8–3 start, but his shoulder ached throughout the last third of the season. The team lost four of their final five and didn't make the playoffs. Favre never seemed comfortable, vexed by everything from terminology ("Everything meant the opposite of what it meant in Green Bay") to the media hordes (Favre refused to do one-on-one interviews during the season) to the long drive from the Jets practice facility to the airport ("It took us longer to get to Newark than it takes to fly from Green Bay to Chicago"). Coach Eric Mangini sucked up to his QB by giving his newborn son the middle name of Brett. In December, when he should have benched Favre because of his shoulder injury, he caved to the legend hell-bent on keeping his consecutive start streak intact, now at 287.
"I liked all the guys there, but I'm not a New York guy," says Favre, as two assistants distress a T-shirt that he's already wearing. "When I got there, I was exhausted, and then they flew me into the city in a helicopter to get a key to the city from the mayor." Favre shakes his head in horror. "I mean, Jesus Christ, a helicopter! I don't need a damn key to the city."
Bus taps his watch. Time for Brett to go. A pickup truck drives him back to the Busmobile. The driver, the navigator, and an old lady who runs along next to the car before losing her race with the internal-combustion engine thrust footballs, posters, and Sharpies at Favre. Favre signs wearily and good-naturedly until we pull up next to Bus's Escalade.
A fat man in a windbreaker approaches Favre. "Brett, will you sign my shirt?" he asks. Brett nods until the fat man opens his windbreaker to reveal a Super Bowl shirt covered with the faces of Drew Brees and other Saints stars. Brett recoils and walks away. He jumps into Bus's car and locks the door. He tells Bus about the Saints fan. Bus laughs.
"Jesus, people are crazy," says Brett. "What world is that guy living in?"
Bus tries to lighten the mood by telling a probably apocryphal tale about buying his mom a burial plot for Christmas in 2008.
"This year I didn't get her anything, and she said, 'Why didn't I get anything for Christmas?' I said, 'Momma, that's because you didn't use what I got you last year.' "
Brett lets out a snort but continues to look out the window. There's a silence. Just before we pull back into the parking lot where the day started, Favre grimaces.
"I can't believe that guy wanted me to sign his Saints jersey."