In Brett Favre, the Jets are getting one of the best quarterbacks ever to play in the NFL. As a result, they're going to have to part ways with one of the best quarterbacks the franchise has ever had.
I hope the unceremonious departure Pennington is forced to take from New York isn't accompanied by kicks in the rear as he leaves. No, he didn't have a strong arm. Yes, he was injured quite a bit. And no, he never led the team to the ultimate goal of a Super Bowl - but he provided Jets fans with more thrills than most of us have experienced in our football-rooting lives.
He won more than he lost - and despite never making it all the way, he did win in the playoffs. Which is a lot more than other Jets quarterbacks can claim.
And what did he get for it? Constant complaints that he wasn't good enough. Direct competition from a totally inferior quarterback. More lack of respect...and more calls for a replacement...even after leading the team to a surprise playoff appearance in 2006. (I take part of the blame for buying his jersey. Sorry, Chad. At least now, with Favre, I can try to salvage my Glenn Foley #4 jersey.)
Pennington's resume includes a playoff appearance in his first season as the Jets starter - a season in which he led a resurgence from a 1-4 start to a 9-7 finish, and with a victory over Brett Favre's Packers in the final game of the season, a trip to the playoffs. All Pennington did was lead a blowout of the Colts, 41-0, before losing to Oakland the next week.
With expectations high in 2003, Pennington suffered the first of many season-derailing injuries, breaking his wrist in a pre-season game against the Giants. He came back from that to tear his rotator cuff in 2004, but missed just three games as the Jets went 10-6 to make the playoffs again.
In that season, Pennington deserved a better fate. His arm was trusted even less than usual because of the injury, but he led the Jets to a playoff win in San Diego. In Pittsburgh the following week, Pennington put the Jets in position to win the game twice, and of course, the kicker failed to hit the game-winning field goals.
2005 was a rough year - a horrible start, then another shoulder injury, and Pennington was done until 2006...when he threw for a personal-high 3,352 yards in 16 starts, and led the Jets to the playoffs. Last year he started just 8 games, and you got the impression that the arm injuries had taken their toll.
By my count, Chad Pennington was 32-30 as a starter with the Jets, 31-22 before last year. Which is important, because last year was probably an indication of what would have come this year - more games of 125 yards passing...which just wasn't enough. But it also was a product of his offensive line, which couldn't offer him any protection. Perhaps Pennington could have more success with a better team this year.
Everything you ever heard about Chad Pennington as a Jets fan was positive. Which is why I hope after the Jets release him, he gets picked up by another team quickly, and gets a chance to play. And I hope it's a team that will play at the Meadowlands in the coming season. And I hope Pennington gets the thunderous ovation that he deserves...and maybe Brett Favre takes note that you can leave a place with class, even when you haven't been treated like a god your entire career.