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Have I got a joke for you. Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

Frequently beleaguered New York sports franchise finds itself riding high for the first time in several years thanks to a superlative 2006 season, only to fall flat on its face in spectacular fashion the following year. Franchise suddenly finds itself in damage control mode, faced with an unexpectedly and extraordinarily pissed off fan base that no longer seems to be buying into the sham that ownership is shoveling. What’s worse, the franchise finds itself in enormous debt following the construction of their new billion dollar home, and the only way to recover that capital is by hitting said disgruntled fan base over their collective heads with staggering ticket prices.

But wait for the punch line.

The franchise needs a face. Not the face of a manager under fire, or a boy genius whose rose has lost its bloom. Not the face of a spoiled superstar who doesn’t hustle, or a worn down veteran who can no longer compete. The team needs a new face. A big face. A face that everyone knows. A face that’s already burnt into the nation’s consciousness because ESPN wouldn’t have it any other way. A face that dominates the front page, and a name that’s on everyone’s tongue, on every media outlet’s rumor mill, on every team’s radar, in every fan’s pipe dream.

Ladies and Gentleman, I’d like to introduce you to the newest New Yorker, Johan Santana! Er, I mean, Brett Favre. I mean, Santana. Favre, Santana, Favre, Santana.

Apologies, but my head is spinning. Must be a glitch in the Matrix. It happens when they change something.

Kudos to Jets owner Woody Johnson, who could hardly have orchestrated this grand charade any better. After all, it was a scant four days after the owner announced that the team would be charging its season ticket holders exorbitant Personal Seat License (PSL) fees in their new stadium that Gang Green dropped the F(avre)-Bomb. Now we can put to bed the questions concerning why the team’s partner in their new $1.6 billion stadium, the New York Giants, unveiled details of their PSL program in late June while the Jets remained tight-lipped about their 2010 plans, which will see fans paying one-time fees ranging from $500 to $150,000 for the privilege to buy a season ticket plan. Would it surprise anyone to learn that the PSL was a brain child of the cable company?

Yup, the Jets played this one to perfection, pilfering their subscribers’ pocketbooks while the pickings were good. They learned their lesson from the New York Mets, who in typical Flushing fashion, could not even execute their own greedy scheme properly. Believe me, the Wilpons are not an ownership group that enjoys watching Willie Randolph collecting paychecks for the remainder of his contract’s tenure while taking bows in Yankee Stadium. But the team was left with little option but to fire their skipper when they foolishly failed to coordinate their season ticket brochures with Santana’s arrival. Nice work by the marketing department, which seems to pump out more silly slogans for the team than you can shake a stick at, but failed to have the printing press hot at the franchise’s most critical juncture. Instead, the team had to sit on its 2009 seating chart and pricing tiers for half of the 2008 schedule. Think the Wilpons were happy to see that 10-game winning streak in July? Playoffs? That would just be the gravy.

No, the Jets would not repeat the same comedy of errors. And while the team has indicated that Favre’s likeness will “not be used to sell” PSLs, who’s kidding whom here? Jet fans don’t need to see Favre’s mug on a brochure when half of them are already wearing his number on their backs.

And Woody Johnson saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And there was training camp and there was preseason, and on the seventh day, he rested. He blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because Woody knew the financing for his stadium had been secured the day Johan Santana walked in the door.

I mean, Brett Favre.

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