August 07, 2008
Here's the misconception about the AHL Iowa Chops and their attempt to sign NFL quarterback Brett Favre to a minor league hockey contract: It wasn't a joke, at least according to Alex Kyrias, the team's VP of communications.
"Everybody said it was going to be a hoax, but we followed through on everything we said we were going to do," he said. "At the time, it was something that provided a jolt for Brett, as he was considering all the options."
Despite having removed the original Favre press release from their official site, the Chops say they were sincere in giving the football legend a chance to "enjoy the thrill of raising the Calder Cup just as much as he did the Vince Lombardi Trophy back in 1997." Chops President Steve Nitzel said he sent Favre's agent James "Bus" Cook Jr. a letter and an AHL contract, and then "went back and forth a couple of times" with his reps.
Since the initial offer, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell reinstated Favre and the Green Bay Packers added him to the active roster; followed by his trade to the New York Jets on Wednesday evening. This means Favre will be playing football this year. Which also means he has summarily rejected the chance to play hockey for the Iowa Chops -- a fact that Nitzel now begrudgingly concedes.
"I think, to a certain degree, I've taken it as far as I can," he said.
"Once it looked like he was going back to play football, I wanted him to know that we hold him in high esteem and wish him well," said Nitzel, whose team is a first-year affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks.
Nitzel said that the contract offer for Brett Favre to play minor league hockey remains standing; and should he bestow upon Jets fans another round of retirement ambiguity next summer, the Chops may again push for his services, "realizing that he's not a rookie anymore, in the football sense of the term," said Nitzel.
Even though fans won't have the chance to see Favre get his passes intercepted by an entirely different type of defender, Nitzel now considers him a permanent fixture of Iowa hockey lore.
"He'll always be, to a certain degree, part of the Chops family. Whether or not he accepts to be part of our family, we'll leave it up to him," said the team president. "But we would love it, if he's ever in Des Moines, for him to swing by, maybe have a chance to talk with the guys and watch a game with us."
(If you catch a whiff of "a Bill Veeck-like sense of publicity" from the Iowa Chops in their choice of nickname or this Favre saga, please note the Nitzel got his start in minor league baseball. We seriously can't wait to see what game promotions the Chops are cooking up for this season. Uh, sorry: We mean when it's Swine Time.)