The last couple of days were a whirlwind of drama, excitement, constantly changing breaking news and even more hilarity than normal.
Yup, things were that crazy and with the amount of comedic genius material collected over the past couple of days, prepare yourself for the onslaught of hysterical quotes and inside views that have slipped between the cracks with the abundance of repetitive information you’ve been reading everywhere you look.
Pure craziness is the best way to describe the last few days, so crazy in fact that this article is going to have to switch into first person mode.
As I debated how to approach this article, I thought a few different things that made me decide on the first person view. First of all, and most important, I feel it will be easier for you, the reader, to get a better feeling and understanding of exactly how this whole saga played out and what the energy around the entire situation felt like. Second, much of the quality material is from my own firsthand eyewitness accounts and I think the article will run much smoother this way. The third reason, to be honest with you, it’s going to be more fun for me, hopefully you readers feel the same.
Now, where to begin?
Well, incase you haven’t heard Darrelle Revis finally ended his extremely lengthy holdout, this past Monday. The news broke Sunday night and by Monday morning the media rooms were literally overflowing with people.
Labor Day maybe be a day for BBQ’s for most people, but for anyone covering the Jets a more ironic day couldn’t have been picked. It was Labor Day indeed, plenty of labor for Jets’ management, Revis, his agents and a whole lot to cover, dissect and report on for the writers.
One thing I have learned from covering the Jets is that the toughest part of the job is sometimes there is just simply too much quality information for us to be able to convey everything we saw or heard. Hundreds upon thousands of stories about Revis’ return have been posted in every newspaper, magazine and website out there. The only problem is, they all say pretty much the same thing. It’s understandable with so much material to work with, combined with deadlines and word count limits, the writers have to make sure they get all the necessities covered and try and slip in one or two stand-out quotes or intriguing tidbits.
I faced the same problem, I was one of those people who was sick and tired of the ‘will he won’t he’ back and forth debate on if Revis would return. Every time I heard a reporter ask the same question for the 36th millionth time, “Do you think the Revis holdout, will be a distraction?” I’d simply roll my eyes and think to myself, you know what is probably the biggest distraction about the entire situation? The fact that the players have to keep answering questions they couldn’t possibly have an answer for. Maybe, just maybe if the media didn’t keep asking about it, they might not have to think about it as much, but as frustrating as it can be to the players and readers it can be just as frustrating for writers.
As practice ended and the writers headed into the locker room to interview the other players, I already knew all the standard questions that were going to be asked, so I left most of those questions to be asked by others. I still had to report the responses to said questions, but it was a given they would be asked and honestly I always try and avoid asking those same generic questions, I don’t want the players to get bored with me or feel like, “O boy, here comes this guy again.” I want the players to enjoy talking to me, open up and be more relaxed and not feel like they have to read off of a script to respond to a typical question they are prepared for.
One of the best feelings is when you ask a question and the player just kind of blankly stares at you. It’s part shock that it’s not the same question they get asked over and over again and part of it is them searching for an answer. The blank look itself can mean a couple of different things, but when that blank look is followed by a, “Wow! That’s a good question (laughter),” then followed by a brief pause for the player to think off script, that’s when you know you’ve piqued their interests. Maybe I’m still a bit green and naive in this business, but my thinking is if it piques the player’s interest it will probably do the same for the reader.
So that’s the approach I took, and it worked for the most part, with one exception because of a slight misunderstanding of my question to Kris Jenkins. Jenkins is one of the friendliest and most conversational players on the team, which is saying something on this team. It didn’t end badly at all, in fact it was quite comical and some of the other writers and myself had a good long laugh about it later.
After being asked numerous standard questions with obvious answers Jenkins said, “I mean it’s not that, but I just feel like you’re asking me a lot of questions that are common sense. I’m not trying to be disrespectful to you, nothing like that… But It’s huge having him (Revis) back that’s the easiest way to put it, so there you go.”
That’s when I chimed in, having been around the team all offseason and listening to them suffer through the same questions and having to give the same answers I knew Revis not being here wasn’t what had been irking the players the most. You have to look real hard for it, look for changes in tone and facial expressions, and although none of the players ever went off script, you could see it in some of their faces that the questions were wearing on them.
So I decided to ask Jenkins what a relief it was that the saga was over and after these next couple of days, they wouldn’t have to talk about, will he or won’t he play, and we can all get back to simply talking about X’s and O’s.
Maybe it was the fact that my question was a little too long and thought out, but more likely Jenkins was half tuned out at this point from the consistent barrage of questions. His first response was, “Huh?” Followed by a blank stare and not the good kind like I was talking about earlier.
Ironically enough without fully understanding it, he gave me the exact answer I was looking for, saying, “I mean I just keep an open-mind when you all come in the locker room really, because I don’t know what to expect. I mean honestly that’s it, one minute everything will be cool and the next minute you all can just be in rare form. I do understand that he’s back and it’s good for him to be here, but at the same time I do understand if it’s about Revis or anybody else, you guys are all gonna probably have some questions. And deep down inside, they probably do still bother the hell out of us, you all probably just don’t really know it.”
Actually Kris I have noticed that, that’s why I asked what I asked and he answered the heart of my question without even realizing it. Which was simply, how annoying can the media get, especially at a time like this with one main story line being dragged out for so long?
All this drama might have been wearing on some players, but the tensions has clearly been lifted as the locker room transitioned into party mode on both days. Jet players tend to be loud and quick with the jokes, but the past two days was out of control even for them.
Safety Jim Leonhard was cracking a joke at Revis’ expense every chance he got and when asked about Revis’ return, he joked, “You get excited. You want to have Darrelle back. All of the guys on the team love him. The coaches love him, so to get him back is great. The biggest thing now (is) we have enough time to scheme to protect him like we did last year (laughter). We obviously had to help Revis out, so now we have enough time to help him out (smiling).”
On Tuesday as the camera crews were waiting for Revis to get to his locker after practice, the jokes continued. As soon as Revis walked in the door, Bryan Thomas said, “See Revis, I told you. You’re a star, look at the paparazzi stalking you.” Followed by Shaun Ellis jokingly yelling out, “No contract talk, your only allowed to talk football. I’m his body guard.”
You can tell how much more comfortable Sanchez is becoming in this locker room as he didn’t hesitate to get a few jokes of his own at Revis’ expense. Sanchez said, “I think he signed a four-year deal, so he’s probably going to want another deal next year (joking). No, we’re glad he’s back. It’s huge for us. It’s big time. Him and (Antonio) Cromartie, (they’re) pretty tough, so we’re thrilled.”
The most outspoken person in the organization is without a doubt, Rex Ryan and he couldn’t silence himself on the subject of Revis, so there is little doubt he is among the most excited to have him back on the field. Ryan said, “It helps there is no question about it. We said our team has no excuses and never would’ve if Darrelle hadn’t been here. It falls on everyone, not just Darrelle. I will say this, it makes our job a lot easier. Mike Pettine and I, we’ve already talked about it. We’re better coaches now. Dennis Thurman is a better coach today than he was yesterday… Everybody’s a piece to that puzzle. Darrelle’s just happens to be much larger. He allows us to do things on defense that we probably couldn’t do if he wasn’t with us.”
Revis agreed with his coach about him being just one piece of the puzzle saying, “They’re (the defense) good without me. I think I’m just another piece to the puzzle that’s just trying to help this team get to the Super Bowl.”
Reporters kept asking different people if they expect the Ravens to attack Revis since he missed all of camp, they all got the same reaction, one of those bad types of blank stares, that could be clearly translate to, “Are you serious? Would you try and ‘test’ Revis?”
Ryan has a similar response he just played along like the jokester he is saying, “I can certainly see them doing that. The guy has missed all of training camp. They should do that. Find him and go to him and go to him often. (I’d hope your picking up on the sarcasm, because he is laying it on pretty thick.) They’re smarter than that. They’re not coming after him. No way. (There’s) no chance of it.”
I know simply reading this quote doesn’t come close to representing the tone of what he was saying, but it was classic Ryan basically daring the Ravens to test him.
When Revis was asked if he thinks, with the new additions, this will be the best secondary in football he said, “That’s one of our goals, is to be the best. We know there are a lot of other defensive backs and teams out there that are good too, but we were number one last year and we’re trying to repeat as the number one defense and the number one pass defense as well.”
After talking about the butterflies he had on Monday, when he first stepped onto the practice field, since he was gone for so long he didn’t know how his return would be accepted. I asked him if the playful mocking and cheering, the ‘Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!’ chants from Bart Scott or even the ‘Revis Christ,’ chants, helped make him feel like he was back home again. Revis said, “It was great. This is a close locker room. We always joke around and have fun with each other. I just appreciate them so much, for just accepting me and waiting for me when I came back to the team.”
In what was probably the funniest of all the sidesplitting moments over the past two days, Revis managed to playfully take a shot at a specific reporter, who had heard rumors of Revis being in Pittsburgh a week or so ago and decided to take a trip to see Revis’ grandmother.
Revis was asked about where he worked out all offseason and Revis said, “Well, you guys know I go to Phoenix, Arizona. Then, I went to Florida. Then, I went to my hometown, where Rich (Cimini) met my grandma. (Laughing) Then, once I heard he was in town, I had to get out of there like Carmen Sandiego. I was just moving around to places and working out. I had a duffel bag and everywhere I went, I had my workout clothes, and I was just trying to stay in shape until I got the call.”
Not only was Revis constantly on the move so he couldn’t be pinned down to a specific area and be found, but he also disguised himself a bit when he had to venture out into public, saying he wanted to grow out some dreadlocks, but his hair wasn’t long enough so instead he would don a crazy afro wig.
All that is over, no more need for disguises, “Revis Island” has become visible for all to see. Now opposing wider receivers have to start to worrying about vanishing into thin air once they enter, “Revis Island.”