- Rich Cimini, ESPN New York Jets reporter
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Rex Ryan's well-chronicled tirade at Darrelle Revis' agents, perhaps the turning point of the 36-day holdout, played out in living color Wednesday night on the final episode of HBO's "Hard Knocks." And it was every bit as juicy as it was portrayed in media accounts.
"You know what? I've been going at this thing for the last several days," an exasperated Ryan yells into a speakerphone at the New York Jets' training facility in Florham Park, N.J. "I'm going to go coach this team and get them ready for Baltimore, so I'm done.
"You know the way the owner feels. I mean, I can't believe we can't get a damn deal done," Ryan continues, walking out of the room. "It's a f---ing joke. Three years left on a f---ing contract. Watch Monday night. Watch what the f--- happens."
With that, Ryan slams the door and GM Mike Tannenbaum ends the call, leading to several seconds of awkward silence.
"What's the negotiating playbook say to do now?" Tannenbaum says, resorting to gallows humor.
A few hours later, of course, Revis is signed and "Hard Knocks" gets its happily-ever-after ending. The final episode doesn't break any new ground in the Revis saga, but it puts pictures and words to events already reported.
It shows Tannenbaum, on Aug. 13, making another drive from Cortland, N.Y., to the Roscoe Diner, where he meets for the second time with Revis' agents. (Interesting how the show's producers sat on this secret rendezvous, complying with the gag order imposed by the team and Revis' camp.) This time, the diner meeting lasts five hours, 20 minutes, and there's no progress.
"Hey, Woody, the Reader's Digest version is this," Tannenbaum says to owner Woody Johnson by phone on the drive back to Cortland. "As important as Darrelle is ... we think we're going to win a lot of games without Darrelle."
On Aug. 30, three days before the final preseason game, Ryan is so frustrated by the holdout that he drives to Revis' New Jersey home with secondary coach Dennis Thurman and team executive Dave Szott. Ryan, dressed in his practice garb, knocks on the door. No answer.
In another conversation with Johnson, Tannenbaum reports, "[The agents] remain convinced that we'll fold after Week 2 or we'll trade him next year."
Johnson tries to be a tough guy.
"They don't know me very well," he says.
Tannenbaum: "Their response is, next year you'll be fed up with it. You'll get a 1 and a 3 ..."
Johnson: "I'm fed up now. Why would I be any more fed up next year?"
Tannenbaum: " ... and you want to cut your losses."
Johnson: "I have no losses. It's all good. If you think I'm stressed, I'm not stressed at all. ... It's time to move on to football. We'll go who we've got. We're in New York, you can't hustle us."
Clearly, they're playing to the cameras to some degree. Finally, at the darkest hour, Tannenbaum suggests to Ryan that he make the trip to Ft. Lauderdale to meet with Revis and his family. It's interesting that it's Tannenbaum's idea, not Ryan's.
"Get on a plane with Woody and go have a roast-beef sandwich," Tannenbaum says.
They show Ryan being driven to Teterboro Airport, where he meets Johnson for the trip to Florida. There are no cameras at the meeting. That night, there's Ryan's tantrum, followed by the midnight agreement.
The next morning, Revis is seen at Newark Airport and being driven to the Jets' facility. In the car, he mutters to himself, "I can't wait, I can't wait."
On the practice field, Ryan is spelling out his expectations for the season, adding, "It looks like they got some slap---- player they just picked up. He's coming in, too."
In the distance, Revis appears, making a long walk toward his cheering teammates. He breaks into a trot, practically running into their waiting arms. If this were a Hollywood movie, it would be in slow motion. It's kind of schmaltzy, almost too much of a cliché to be believed, but that's how it ends.
The holdout and the series.
Rex Ryan's well-chronicled tirade at Darrelle Revis' agents played out in living color.