This week, news broke that Darrelle Revis would be signing with the New York Jets on a five-year, $70 million contract.
Revis is coming off another All-Pro season with the New England Patriots that ended with him lifting the Lombardi Trophy for the first time in his career. It should come as no surprise that the Patriots rejected his option and allowed him to test free agency. But should Pats fans have expected Revis to take a discount to stay with the champs? To put it shortly, no.
This is who Darrelle Revis is. He cares first and foremost about his financial situation, he wants to be the highest paid cornerback in the NFL. He proved that when he opted out of contracts during his first stint on the Jets. I’m not one of those writers who will lambast a player for cashing out. Careers are painfully short and as we all know, football is not particularly kind on the body. Make as much money as you can, while you can. This is America, after all. So no, Pats fan should not have expected Revis to settle for less to stay with a perennial contender. It isn’t how he has operated at any point in his career.
Now, how should Patriot and Jet fans react and feel towards Revis? Those two franchises, and more specifically, those fan bases, have tremendous amounts of disdain for one another. They are rivals who play twice each year. Moments like the “Butt fumble,” 45-3 and the 2010 AFC Divisional Round stand as landmark games between these two. So, what does it mean that Revis has flip-flopped both sides of the rivalry. I know plenty of Jets fans who turned their back on Revis when he signed with New England last summer. Calls of “traitor” and “overrated” were declared by New York’s faithful. As a Patriots fan, I was thrilled to see Revis come to Foxborough. He is a future Hall of Famer and is one of the best cornerbacks the game has ever seen.
This season, he lived up to that reputation and helped build a Super Bowl-winning secondary. But the scepter of his contract hung over it all. He signed a one-year deal with an option for the second, and it was clear he would opt out. When he did, it made sense. Lots of rumors swarmed and it became clear he would just sign with the highest bidder. It turned out to be the Jets. Should Pats fans be mad? Should they just be grateful and keep belief that Bill Belichick knows what he’s doing? It’s a strange situation, that’s for sure. But not as strange as Jets fans’ predicament.
Twelve months ago, Jet fans called Darrelle Revis a traitor. Today, he was on the back pages of all the New York City tabloids, getting a hero’s welcome. Fans are notoriously fickle, and this is just the most recent example. I urge Jets fans to take caution in welcoming Revis back to the Meadowlands. He has an opt-out clause after two years. Don’t think he won’t do it again.