It wasn't long after Rex Ryan was hired as the Jets' coach in January, 2009 that quarterback Brett Favre retired after his first and only season with the Jets.
But Ryan said today he would have attempted to convince Favre to play for the Jets if the team had been unable to draft quarterback Mark Sanchez.
"If we never drafted Mark Sanchez, there would have been some major recruiting done," Ryan said.
The Jets play Favre's Vikings next Monday night at New Meadowlands Stadium.
Ryan said he spoke briefly with Favre when he announced his second retirement from the NFL after leading the Jets to a 9-7 record in 2008. Favre suffered arm problems late in the season, as the Jets skidded out of the playoffs after getting to 8-3 after a win in Tennessee.
"I just let him know how much I respected him and the kind of competitor he is and the kind of quarterback he was," Ryan said. "That was a tough time for him; he basically announced his retirement from football. I wasn’t going to stay on the phone with him. He didn't know anything about me ... just some random guy talking to him."
Favre eventually asked the Jets to release him from his two-year contract, and he joined the Vikings in August, 2008. Favre led the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game and had the best statistical year of his career, throwing 33 touchdowns and only seven interceptions.
"I thought thought he was the best in the history of the game," Ryan said. "Still do. He makes all the throws at any arm angle. The guy's amazing. He takes shots and he keeps getting up. He’s an ultimate competitor."
Ryan said things worked out for Favre and the Jets.
"That's a fair statement," he said. "It worked out I’m sure for Brett and for the Jets. We got a quarterback who's going to be here for the next 10 years. Brett's a great player. Last year, those statistics ... I kept saying that can't be right."
Ryan said he has incredible respect for Favre's competitiveness.
"I think he came here to try to win a Super Bowl," he said. "That’s why he plays, period. Any great competitor comes for the same reason, to try to win a Super Bowl. He's a great quarterback, a great competitor."
Oh, and in case you're wondering whether Ryan is conveniently dropping this nugget now that the Jets are about to face the Vikings, and that perhaps he's doing so just to make nice with Favre, think again.
"People can think what they want," Ryan said. "I know the truth."