Commentary

Woody Johnson puttin' on the blitz

Jets owner's rush of interviews brings Revis standoff into very public forum

Updated: August 10, 2010, 9:27 PM ET
By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com

CORTLAND, N.Y. -- The New York Jets-Darrelle Revis contract dispute has deteriorated to this: The two sides can't even agree on who was and wasn't invited to the last negotiating session.

Continuing his media blitz, owner Woody Johnson told 1050 ESPN Radio on Tuesday afternoon that he wanted to meet last Friday with Revis and his agents but was "rebuffed" by the Revis camp. GM Mike Tannenbaum and assistant Ari Nissim represented the Jets at that meeting, which took place at a diner about two hours from the team's training camp.

Revis' agents took umbrage with Johnson's contention, claiming they welcomed Johnson. The back-and-forth continued on Day 10 of the Revis holdout, with both sides waging a PR battle in a dispute that is taking a sharp turn toward ugly.

Johnson, a guest on the Michael Kay show, said he "absolutely" is willing to meet with Revis and his people.

"I've agreed to do that," he said. "I told Darrelle I'd do it. We asked through his agents whether he wanted me at the last meeting on Friday, which I would've gone up to. Rex [Ryan] also would've gone if that was something Darrelle wanted. We were rebuffed on that."

As soon as Johnson was finished on the radio, Revis' agents fired back, clearly upset that the Jets' owner was trying to paint them as unwilling negotiators.

"Why wouldn't I want to meet with Mr. Johnson?" agent Neil Schwartz asked. "I will meet with him anytime, anyplace, anywhere. It would be an honor and a privilege. I'd like to get Mr. Johnson's thoughts on our proposal."

Schwartz was referring to the proposal he made at last Friday's meeting, which was publicly lambasted by the Jets. Something doesn't add up because, when news of the meeting broke Monday, Schwartz made it a point to say he wanted Tannenbaum to bring the proposal to Johnson. Why would he turn down a chance to meet face-to-face with Johnson? Weird.

This is turning into a he said-they said situation, underscoring the level of enmity that is building between the two sides. If they can't agree on something as small as meeting participants, how will they negotiate a nine-figure contract?

There's also a difference on the major sticking point. The Jets say it's "total compensation." The agents say the issue is the amount of guaranteed money, saying the Jets' offer includes "not one dollar" in signing bonus. The Jets have said publicly they're willing to be flexible on the amount of a signing bonus.

Get the picture? It's a mess.

One of the interesting backdrops to the Revis affair is the Jets' decision to take such a public stance. Remember the "Where's Waldo?" craze? This should be entitled, "Where's Woody?"

lastname
Johnson

And the answer is everywhere.

See Woody on the practice field Monday afternoon, telling a crowd of reporters that he's not optimistic about signing Revis before the season.

See Woody on ESPN's "E:60," telling Jeremy Schaap that his "gut feeling" is that Revis won't play for the Jets in 2010.

See Woody at the "Hard Knocks" rally in Times Square, telling reporters he doesn't think a deal will get done.

Hear Woody on ESPN radio, telling a rapt audience of Jets fans, "I feel [Revis] will not be on the New York Jets team this year, based on what I know today, to this very moment."

Wow, talk about a media blitz. It would excite Ryan, the master of the "overload" blitz.

"At this gap, I would say it's insurmountable," Johnson added. "That's why I issued the comment I did. I don't think [Revis] will be there."

Johnson insisted the Jets aren't playing hardball, also claiming they haven't drawn a line in the sand. It sure sounds as if they've drawn a line. This is out of character for the Jets. In past negotiations, they kept things behind closed doors, letting the other side do all the yapping. In this case, they've jumped into the fray.

So far, that approach has done nothing but incite Revis' camp. It's still early, four weeks until the season starts. Soon, somebody will have to extend an olive branch, and put away the big stick -- or else this impasse will extend into September.

Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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