- Ian O'Connor, Senior Writer, ESPN.com
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Go ahead, feel free to take the New York Jets seriously for the first time in months. Trust them. Embrace them. Consider them capable of landing in the Super Bowl for the first time since man landed on the moon.
Until the small hours of Labor Day, the Jets gave you their version of April Fools' Day over and over and over again. They swore through straight faces they could win it all without Darrelle Revis, and no, the claim wouldn't have inspired Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum's hero, Red Auerbach, to light any cigar.
The Jets weren't kidding anyone but themselves. Without Revis, the best defensive player in the NFL, the best in the marketplace since Lawrence Taylor, the Jets would've been a haunted 8-8 team, or something to that effect.
They had to make the four-year deal that they announced early Monday morning with their battered fan base fast asleep. Owner Woody Johnson and coach Rex Ryan had to go to Florida to meet with Revis and his uncle, Sean Gilbert, the former NFL lineman, and they had to get their megastar cornerback in helmet and pads before opening night next Monday against the Baltimore Ravens.
"It was an incredible gesture for Woody to go down and see Darrelle on a Saturday of a three-day weekend," Tannenbaum said on a conference call.
An incredible gesture? Are you kidding me?
If Johnson didn't break up his little holiday to travel to Florida to negotiate with Revis, to find some way, any way, to end this camplong stalemate, the owner should've been forced to spend his next two-week Caribbean cruise bunking with Eric Mangini.
Johnson's latest coach, Ryan, has all but guaranteed possession of the Vince Lombardi Trophy, and much sooner rather than later. "With Darrelle here, those chances go up," Tannenbaum said.
Yeah, as in a lot.
Ryan's Jets have done so much talking, it became apparent they thought they could filibuster their way to the Super Bowl and to a visit with President Obama in the White House. They loaded up with the win-now likes of Jason Taylor, LaDainian Tomlinson, Santonio Holmes and Antonio Cromartie, and hoped everyone would be too busy laughing at Ryan's language on "Hard Knocks" to recall that a holdover Jet far more important than the new recruits was left on the cutting room floor.
Revis wanted his money, big money, guaranteed money, and he had every right to ask for it. If the NFL doesn't fully guarantee contracts, it does fully guarantee pain, suffering and a heartless exit interview when a team needs a healthier throwing shoulder or a faster set of wheels.
Revis saw what happened to Leon Washington after the back tore up his leg, and he saw how the good locker room citizen, Thomas Jones, was rewarded for ripping off 1,400 yards. Revis also saw how Kellen Clemens was treated by Tannenbaum in that revealing "Hard Knocks" scene the other night, when the GM told the backup quarterback he could take a pay cut or get fired, his choice.
An NFL player has to make his score while he can. Revis withdrew his services for the summer and waited for the Jets to come to him. Sure enough, billionaire Woody and rebel Rex took their reality-show act on the road, making their desperate moves on Revis' home court.
Sometime around 11 p.m. Sunday, Tannenbaum said, employer and employee found "a landing spot that was good for both sides." That landing spot would be identified as $46 million.
"I'm comin home baby!!!" Revis wrote on Twitter.
Suddenly the GM who helped script the fairy tale that his team would be fine without Revis was talking about the corner ending up in the Hall of Fame -- as a Jet, of course.
"I think it's a win-win," Tannenbaum said.
The Jets haven't won anything yet, other than Revis' commitment to sign a four-year contract. Finally the franchise that forever leads the NFL in empty promises has made good on a pledge.
The Jets will make for a credible contender on opening night. Revis, who makes a living cutting the field in half, just made his team whole.