Jets' Revis returns to New England as an enemy - again
He returns to Foxborough on Sunday, but this time, as the enemy.
''I don't think I'll be welcomed back with open arms, I can tell you that,'' the New York Jets cornerback said Wednesday. ''They're fans and they love the Patriots, and I'm not in that color jersey. We'll see how it goes. It'll be fun.''
For the first six years of his NFL career, Revis learned to despise the Patriots. He once called Patriots coach Bill Belichick a ''jerk,'' and was always the one player Jets fans could count on to keep their team in any matchup.
But then, Revis left New York.
A bitter contract dispute prompted then-GM John Idzik to send him to Tampa Bay, and it seemed weird to see the cornerback in pewter and red when the Buccaneers opened the 2013 season against the Jets.
Things got even stranger when he signed with rival New England as a free agent, and it crushed many Jets fans to see him celebrate a Super Bowl win in February.
''It's a memory that I will never forget,'' Revis acknowledged. ''It's 2015 now and now I'm here. All of that is behind me at this point. When I'm sitting down somewhere when I'm done, that's a memory that I'll always cherish.''
Yes, in fact, he is here again. And he has been welcomed back with open arms like a prodigal son.
The fans who hadn't trashed their green-and-white No. 24 jerseys have dusted them off and filled the MetLife Stadium with them again. In many ways, it's as if he never left.
''This is where I feel most comfortable at,'' Revis said. ''This is home to me.''
Revis was the biggest of GM Mike Maccagnan's free agent signings over the winter, bringing back a player who was the team's first-round pick in 2007 and rose to stardom while becoming one of the best cornerbacks in the game.
He played like the Revis of old in Belichick's defense and was a major reason the Patriots were able to bring home a fourth Super Bowl title. The only reason he was available last March was because the Patriots had an option on the contract, which would have paid Revis $20 million and cost New England a $25 million cap hit.
''The number was too high,'' he said.
He was one and done with the Patriots and the Jets swooped in and signed him to a five-year, $70 million deal that included $39 million guaranteed. Revis got paid, fans went bananas over getting their guy back and Todd Bowles was heading into his first season as coach with one of the best defensive players in the league on his team.
Revis' locker is in the same spot in the Jets' locker room it used to be. He looks right at home in his No. 24, too, after short-timers such as John Griffin, Darius Reynaud and Phillip Adams ''borrowed'' it the past two seasons. Revis also insists it was never strange being on the other side of the rivalry.
''No, I can have a pink jersey on, it doesn't matter,'' he said with a smile. ''I've had three different color jerseys on. At this point in my career, it's about just loving the game and playing.''
As most of his Jets teammates have done to this point, Revis downplayed the significance of the Jets (4-1) taking on the Patriots (5-0) and perhaps making a statement.
Under Rex Ryan, New York went 4-9, including a playoff win, against New England and never could dethrone them atop the AFC East. A win Sunday, though, would put the Jets in first place and firmly establish them as a legitimate playoff contender.
''It's as big as you want it to be,'' Revis said. ''For us, it's still early in the season. We're still trying to get better and better each week. It is a big game because it is a conference game, but at the same time, it's still early in the season. ... Whoever's on the schedule that week, that's who we've got to play.''
Revis has been a force on a defense that ranks No. 1 overall and is third in the NFL with 15 takeaways, two more than the Jets had all of last season. Revis leads the league with six takeaways: three interceptions and three fumble recoveries.
''They've been playing lights out on offense and we've been playing lights out on defense,'' Revis said of the Patriots. ''I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be a fun matchup.''
And, after spending a year with ''the enemy'' as Tom Brady's teammate, he might have an extra edge in his preparations.
''I've got my notes,'' Revis said, laughing. ''I have my notes.''
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL