NEW YORK -- A familiar figure, dressed in unfamiliar garb, passed through the Mets' clubhouse on Friday afternoon, causing more than a few doubletakes.
Charlie Samuels, the Mets' clubhouse manager, was wearing a Jets No. 4 jersey with the appropriate name on the back. Samuels immediately was charged with first-degree bandwagon jumping and was playfully scorned by Jay Horwitz, the Mets' public relations director and resident Giants fantatic.
It was the jersey, not the person wearing it, that struck one Met, though. Joe Smith was already on the Brett Favre bandwagon, regardless of the quarterback's team affiliation. "My favorite athlete of all time," is how the Mets reliever characterized the Jets' quarterback.
"More that Aaron Sele?" he was asked. Sele was a father figure to Smith last season, Smith's rookie season.
"I don't know," Smith said. "That's close."
Smith's is a case of hero worship with deep roots, not merely a passing fancy for a man of fancy passing.
Smith shared his apartment bedroom with Favre during his last three years at Wright State. He had a life-size cardboard cutout of his hero standing in the corner. And that was only one item of the Favre paraphernalia. He has a football signed by Favre "To Joe," and his own signed jersey -- Packers, not Jets. Smith's father and sister have scaled-down cutouts of Favre in the family home near Cincinnati.
"It's a family thing," Smith says. "We're all big fans and have been for a long time."
The fanaticism was fed years back when Smith was visiting his uncle, a Pepsi Cola employee, in Green Bay.
"He called me and said, 'You wanna go out with me on some business,'" Smith recalled Friday.
Favre was a spokesman for a Pepsi product, and Smith visited Favre with his uncle at his home.
"Pretty cool," Smith said. "You don't get a lot of chances to meet your hero."
Smith would be quite happy with another opportunity.
"Maybe I can get out there [to a Jets workout] one day," he said. "Or you might see me on the sideline sometime."
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.