Depending on whom you choose to believe, the end of the messy
And when it does, I'm convinced Revis will be the clear-cut winner.
I've come around to that way of thinking because whenever I talked to league sources about the Revis holdout over the course of the past three or four weeks, the near unanimous opinion offered was that in time the Jets would cave and meet most of his demands.
Why? Because when you step back and assess the dynamics of this stand off, one thing becomes abundantly clear: New York, wearing its win-now sense of urgency for all to see on its green and white sleeves, needs Revis more than Revis needs New York.
Normally that's not the case in terms of how much leverage one key starter holds over a club's season, but these are far from normal days for the glory-seeking Jets. This is a team that's hellbent on getting it done -- and we're talking the whole enchilada, not just another step up the playoff ladder -- in 2010.
It's not only that bold and brash Jets head coach
• Signing 31-year-old running back
• Trading for the talented but damaged goods that are cornerback
• Taking occupancy this summer in the new $1.6 billion stadium they share with the Giants, and for the first time in franchise history having expensive personal seat licenses to sell. Some of those PSLs cost as much as $30,000 per ticket, and in June the Jets cut the price of some of their lower-end PSLs as much as 50 percent. So no, it isn't a coincidence that New York continues its frenzied Super Bowl push at the very moment it has asked its fans to ante up with a huge financial commitment.
• Opening up its training camp to NFL Films and the revealing HBO
Given all that has been invested in the Jets taking their best possible shot at winning a Super Bowl this season, how could they do anything but somehow find a way to satisfy their best player? Getting everything but Revis done and back on the field this year would be like planning an elaborate surprise birthday party for your spouse and then forgetting to buy a cake. That should have been one of the first steps, not the last.
As if all of the above-mentioned motivation isn't enough, the urgency level in New York to win a ring right now, right here is even higher given the uncertainty that looms throughout the NFL in 2011. With no one capable of predicting exactly what will come from next year's labor showdown -- some football, no football, status quo football? -- there's a last-best-shot feel that's alive within the league in 2010. Nowhere is that more pronounced than in the Jets team complex, where Ryan stokes the Super Bowl fires on an almost daily basis, cajoling and challenging his team to land itself a Lombardi.
And that's why 2010 means more to the Jets than any other NFL team -- and it's not even close. That's why New York, like the Vikings in the NFC, was held hostage this preseason by one influential player who possessed the key to the team's Super Bowl hopes, and knew it.
Don't get me wrong. I'm quite sure New York can field a team and win its share of games this year without Revis. I'd probably even pick them to again make the playoffs, because the cornerback tandem of Cromartie and rookie
Having the NFL's best cornerback in an era largely dominated by those teams that can pass or stop the pass is a tremendous weapon at the Jets' disposal. It's not an overstatement to say the success of New York's top-ranked defense last year started with Revis's ability to seal off his half of the field, giving the other 10 Jets defenders a much smaller chunk of real estate to patrol. It's a simple case of geography, and maybe even geometry.
Ryan, being the lifelong defensive guy he is, knows this better than anyone. He knows Revis's coverage skills allow the Jets defense to take chances in other spots and at certain times of every game. With Revis, New York can stay aggressive on the pass rush, commit another defender to the run, and intimidate opponents into abandoning their passing game to whatever side No. 24 lines up. How many teams can say that? I counted, and there's exactly none.
Revis has had the upper hand when it comes to leverage precisely because he and his representatives know what this season is about for the Jets. Two obvious downsides to the big talk that Ryan has been doing since he arrived in New York are this: He talked up Revis right into a holdout, lavishing praise on his cornerback every chance he got last season, and he talked up his team's Super Bowl chances so much that everyone concerned knows what's at stake in New York this year. Suffice to say the Jets are locked, loaded and have a very itchy trigger finger.
Revis's teammates have gone about their work without him these past four weeks, but they know they're a far better team with him around, and maybe not even Super Bowl material with him holding out. And they know that Ryan and his coaching staff, deep down, know that, too.
As one unidentified Jets starter was quoted in the
"How can we play this season without our best defensive player? I can't see him not being here. That would be crazy.''
Crazy, indeed, which is the biggest reason the Jets are going to give Revis "crazy'' money pretty soon here and get him back into uniform in time for the Monday, Sept. 13, opener at home against Baltimore. As crazy as it sounds, if they want to chase their Super Bowl dreams, they don't really have much of a choice.