NEW YORK – Brett Favre informed the New York Jets on Wednesday he will retire after 18 seasons, ending a record-setting career in which he was one of the NFL's premier quarterbacks.
The 39-year-old instructed agent James "Bus" Cook to tell the team of his decision, six weeks after Favre's only season with the Jets ended in disappointment as New York failed to make the playoffs.
In an e-mail to ESPN, Favre said he has no regrets about ending his career in New York and praised owner Woody Johnson, general manager Mike Tannenbaum and fired coach Eric Mangini.
"Mike and Woody, as well as the entire organization, have been nothing short of outstanding," Favre said in the e-mail. "My teammates — Thomas (Jones) and Kerry (Rhodes) included — were a pleasure to play with. Eric could not have been any better. I enjoyed playing for him. My time with the Jets was short, but I'm honored to be given that chance."
Running back Jones and safety Rhodes were critical after the season of Favre and his performance. The Jets went from 8-3 to missing the playoffs. Favre threw nine interceptions as the Jets went 1-4 down the stretch, and a torn right biceps might have contributed.
"I had a great conversation with Brett this morning," Johnson said in a statement. "Considering that he came from a totally different environment and joined our team during training camp, his performance last season was extraordinary. As I spoke with people throughout the organization, they all told me how much they enjoyed working with him. Brett Favre is a Hall-of-Fame player, but he is also a Hall-of-Fame person. Brett, (wife) Deanna and his family will always be a part of the Jets family."
Favre retired last March but quickly changed his mind and a bitter divorce with Green Bay ensued. He was traded to the Jets in August and was a Pro Bowl selection despite an overwhelmingly disappointing season that cost Mangini his job. New York hired former Baltimore defensive coordinator Rex 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 his home in Kiln, Miss., away from football before deciding to retire — again.
"It was an honor to coach against Brett over the years," Ryan said. "If he's not the best quarterback ever, then he's certainly in the conversation. I have great admiration for him as a player and a person. I wish him only the best in his life after football."
Favre had two years left on his contract and was due $13 million for next season.
"When we acquired Brett, we knew we would get everything he had," Tannenbaum said. "He took the time to mentor younger players and his competitiveness and enthusiasm at practice and during games was contagious. I spoke with him this morning and told him that he will be a friend of the Jets for years to come and it was an honor to work with him."
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).
The three-time NFL MVP also holds the mark among quarterbacks with 291 consecutive starts, including the playoffs, despite playing through several injuries throughout his career.
"It was a great honor to play with Brett," wide receiver Chansi Stuckey told The Associated Press. "He had an illustrious career, and I want to thank him for giving the Jets the opportunity to play with him."
New York now will move forward with a new quarterback, whether that will be Kellen Clemens, Brett Ratliff, Erik Ainge or perhaps a veteran free agent such as Jeff Garcia, Kerry Collins, Byron Leftwich or Rex Grossman.
After the Jets' season-ending 24-17 loss to Miami, Favre said he felt discomfort in his rocket right arm "for quite a while." It turned out to be a torn biceps tendon that didn't require surgery. He refused to completely blame his late-season struggles on his arm injury, but said his accuracy suffered as a result.
After coming out of a brief retirement last winter, Favre was acquired from Green Bay for what will be a 2009 third-round draft pick to help the Jets take a big leap forward after a 4-12 season. They did that by more than doubling their win total, but it wasn't enough. He finished with 3,472 yards passing and 22 touchdowns, but the 22 interceptions were his most in three seasons.
It wasn't all bad with the Jets for Favre, who showed a few glimpses of greatness — as well as great zip on his passes — early on. 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 after he came to the Jets, drawing thousands of fans to training camp practices.
Favre, named a team captain just weeks after joining the Jets, was coming off one of his most productive seasons, passing for 4,155 yards, his most since 1998, with 28 TDs and 15 interceptions. After an introduction to the city by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Favre struggled to get in synch with his receivers and learn the playbook.
But by midway through the season, Favre appeared at the top of his game again — and had the Jets atop the AFC East at 8-3 with consecutive road victories at New England and Tennessee. Then came the free-fall in which New York lost four of its last five.