Jets’ Revis calls visit from Ryan, Johnson ‘breakthrough’ in contract negotiations

By Dennis Waszak Jr., AP
Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Rex, Woody visit helped seal Revis deal for Jets

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Darrelle Revis and Rex Ryan looked at each other, huddled in a conference room in Florida, and immediately knew they had the same game plan.

The New York Jets’ star cornerback wanted to get back on the football field.

The brash and boisterous coach badly wanted him there.

“He was smiling like he took a trip to Disney World,” Revis recalled Monday. “I was smiling back because this is like a home to me, the New York Jets. It was just good to see him and work something out when we were down there to try to get me back up here.”

Revis signed a four-year deal Monday, ending a 36-day holdout that included some acrimonious moments between his agents and general manager Mike Tannenbaum. There were also plenty of doubts that the All-Pro cornerback would play this season.

Perhaps the most crucial moment of the negotiations came Saturday, when both Ryan and owner Woody Johnson flew to Revis’ home in South Florida to meet with him, his mother Diana Gilbert and uncle and former NFL player Sean Gilbert to try to solve the contract impasse.

“I think that was a breakthrough, them coming down because I haven’t seen them,” Revis said. “It was talks with my agents and Tannenbaum most of the time. I just thought when they both came down, it was a big step in this whole situation.”

Both Ryan and Johnson said the decision to visit Revis was a group idea, although agent Neil Schwartz said the coach reached out to them Friday night about setting it up.

“First off, I like to travel,” a smiling Ryan said of how the trip came about. “That was probably what one of the reasons was. We don’t do things exactly by the books of other teams, but we do it our way. It’s the New York Jet way.”

Both the Jets and Revis’ agents spoke all weekend until they reached an agreement around 11 p.m. Sunday.

That was after Ryan lost his cool, a moment that’s sure to be featured on the next episode of “Hard Knocks” on HBO. During a conference call between the Jets and Revis’ agents, Ryan got frustrated at the sides not being able to seal the deal.

“I stormed out of there and was ripping everybody on both sides,” he said. “After I threw my little tantrum and the deal was getting done, they brought me back up.”

Added agent Jonathan Feinsod: “He told us that he was going to go coach his football team and he was sick and tired of us.”

When cooler heads prevailed a few hours later, Revis had finally agreed to a deal.

“It was a long process,” he said. “It was rough on me. You know I’m a football player and I love to play the game and I’m happy it’s over with. I can go play football now.”

Revis is expected to practice Tuesday and be ready to play in the season opener next Monday night at home against Baltimore.

“I do think we may play Revis, I’m not sure,” Ryan quipped. “I think he might need to practice for several weeks before we play him, but don’t be shocked if he’s out there.

“In other words, he’s definitely playing.”

The Jets and Revis’ agents declined to announce financial terms of the deal, but it is reportedly worth at least $46 million, including $32 million guaranteed. Revis said all along he wanted to be the highest-paid player at his position, something Feinsod said the Jets cornerback would be — without releasing terms.

“The numbers would reflect in our minds that he’s being paid as the highest-paid cornerback,” Feinsod said.

After months of waiting and wondering about his future, Revis was happy to be back on the field after flying up from Florida in the morning.

“This experience humbled me so much just because I love to play football,” Revis said. “At one point, it was something that was taken away, that I love to do. I’ve never had anything taken away from me that I love to do. So this was a point in my life where it was serious.”

As he walked toward his teammates on the practice field, a strange feeling came over him.

“I had butterflies,” Revis said. “I didn’t know how my teammates were going to accept me because I haven’t been here for a month.”

For a guy who routinely shuts down opponents’ best wide receivers, the acknowledgment of insecurity was stunning. After some loud, welcoming cheers — including a “Rudy” clap — and good-natured ribbing, Revis knew he was finally back home.

“This process, I don’t wish it on anybody,” Revis said. “I never thought it was going to turn out to be like this, to get a little bit crazy. But it’s something I had to go through.”

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