CLEVELAND - Brett Favre held up his new green jersey, hoping he made the right decision.
"To a certain degree, I don't know what I'm getting into," he said.
Favre's summertime soap opera ended Wednesday night when the Green Bay Packers traded their iconic quarterback after 16 seasons to the New York Jets, who haven't had a star of No. 4's stature since the days Joe Namath was slinging passes.
"I'm here for one reason. Not to do commercials, Broadway, all those things," Favre said yesterday after joining New York for its exhibition opener in Cleveland. "I'm here to help the Jets win."
It's not certain when the three-time MVP will be ready to play. But he assured it will be soon.
"I'm a little out of shape, compared to the other guys," said Favre, who winked while saying he looked forward to his first conditioning test with the Jets. "The last 24 hours have been crazy. This offseason has been bizarre. But I'm excited by this opportunity."
Five months after a tearful goodbye to a Hall of Fame career, Favre, who won a Super Bowl title and set all sorts of records before his acrimonious split with the Packers, is starting over.
He's now part of a Jets team that went 4-12 last season and has been reduced to second-stringer status in New York behind the Super Bowl champion Giants.
Dressed casually in cargo shorts, a gray T-shirt, and new white baseball cap bearing a green "NY" logo, Favre arrived at Browns Stadium a little after 6 p.m.
On his way to the Jets locker room, he recalled a few previous visits to Cleveland with the Packers before meeting with New York coach Eric Mangini, who is a year younger than his new QB.
Favre was then joined by Jets chairman and CEO Woody Johnson and general manager Mike Tannenbaum. During his drawn-out divorce with the Packers, Favre said he had been reluctant to speak with Tannenbaum because he was certain the GM would be able to sell him on joining the Jets.
"He's convincing," Favre said, drawing a smile from Tannenbaum. "I know this team had a lot of talent."
Before the Jets received the opening kickoff, Favre and his new backup, Kellen Clemens, talked briefly on the sideline. Favre clutched a card containing New York's offensive sets and after each snap, he discussed what transpired with quarterback Brett Ratliff, who in an instant went from raw rookie to teaching one of the game's greats.
Favre, expected to practice for the first time tomorrow, later played catch with Clemens during a severe-weather delay and hung around to watch the Jets rally for a 24-20 win. Today, Favre will be welcomed to New York by Mayor Michael Bloomberg during a morning ceremony at City Hall.
Favre is eager to put his messy breakup with Green Bay behind him and so, too, are the Packers.
"It's like a marriage that ends," Green Bay president Mark Murphy said. "It happens. Neither party is at fault."
That was Favre's read as well.
"I think we're probably both at fault," he said. "I'm not going to blame one side or the other. A lot of things happened this season, a lot of shocking things. But at this point it's irrelevant."
For the moment, Favre brings the Jets publicity and perhaps a better chance to compete in the AFC East. His preference was to be traded inside the NFC North, preferably to Minnesota. When it became apparent the Packers wouldn't do that, Favre was open to about anything to keep playing.
It only took a minute for him to be a hit in New York.
Already, his jersey is being scooped up by Jets fans who awakened yesterday to the news that the Mississippi country boy with the cannon right arm is on his way to the big city and its bright lights.
Told that 3,000 new jerseys had been sold online, he joked, "That's all?"
Until the deal was announced, it appeared the 38-year-old might be on his way to Tampa Bay. But the Jets, who went to camp with Chad Pennington and Clemens battling to be the starter, persisted and landed Favre for a conditional draft pick in 2009. Pennington, benched midway through last season, was released yesterday.
A draft pick is hardly a steep price for a player who holds league records in career yards (61,655), touchdowns (442), and wins (160), and hasn't missed a start in 275 consecutive games.
New York gave up a fourth-round pick for Favre. According to NFL.com, the selection would turn into a third-rounder if Favre plays in 50 percent of the plays this season, a second-rounder if he plays in 70 percent and the Jets make the playoffs, or a first-round pick if he plays in 80 percent and the Jets make it to the Super Bowl.
The Jets are hoping Favre can bring them some of the magic he created at Lambeau Field. Favre is coming off one of his most productive seasons. He passed for 4,155 yards, his most since 1998, and had 28 TDs with 15 interceptions.