His teammates chanted "Rudy" as he strolled across the practice field at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center, but Darrelle Revis' given name will be ringing out around Florham Park, N.J., this week after the star cornerback signed a four-year contract with the Jets today.
The fourth-year man out of the University of Pittsburgh, who held out for 36 days, was grateful to have the long negotiation process put to rest.
"I just want to thank everybody," Revis said, "my family, Mr. Johnson, Mr. Tannenbaum, Rex and everybody for supporting me. Sorry to the fans. This was a long process. It was rough on me. I'm a football player and I'm happy it's over with so I can go play football now."
The 2009 AFC Defensive Player of the Year and proprietor of "Revis Island" had been in Arizona, his hometown of Aliquippa, Pa., and South Florida during the five weeks he stayed away from the team. Sporting a beard that only teammate wide receiver Braylon Edwards could match, Revis said he's ready to step back on the football field and see his name in the headlines for making interceptions, not business deals.
"This experience humbled me very much, just because I love to play football," he said at a news conference early this evening. "At one point something was taken away from me that I love to do. I had never had anything taken away from me that I loved to do. This was a point in my life where it was serious. I didn't know, didn't know my future, where I was going to end up or anything until I heard from my representatives. I'm just happy it's all over now."
The situation appeared stagnant prior to this weekend, but Jets owner Woody Johnson and head coach Rex Ryan flew to Florida to meet face-to-face with Revis. The deal wasn't completed during their weekend get-together, but the foundation was laid for an agreement to materialize.
"It meant a lot to me," Revis said of the visit. "To show the passion they have for me, to come down to Florida and just chat with me and see if we can come to a common ground, if both sides can see the right thing, I think it was good. I got to know Woody a lit bit more. It was the first time I actually sat in a conference room with him and just really got to know him.
"It was a good deal. Me and Rex, we go way back. It's something where it's the love there with me and Rex."
The concentration for Ryan, Revis and the Jets must now turn to the Baltimore Ravens, whom the Jets will host on Monday night for the season opener and the first night game at New Meadowlands Stadium. The Ravens acquired wide receivers Anquan Boldin and, early today, T.J. Houshmandzadeh this year so having a shutdown cornerback like Revis is a great luxury for Ryan's and coordinator Mike Pettine's defense.
While he has been working out diligently since his last practice with the team at the June minicamp, Revis will need to get into game shape quickly.
"I think I'll be able play Monday night's game," he said. "I'm in shape. But football shape is totally different. I haven't had pads on, I haven't had contact. It's something I have to get back into and take it slow in the process."
The love of the game is ever-present with Revis, who wants to get back to playing football. While he knows he can get a breather in the game if he feels winded or uncomfortable on the field, it would be very hard for him to pull himself out of the game. In fact, it was the simple, football-related things that Ryan and Johnson conveyed to him during their visit that were the most moving factors to Revis.
"We need to get you up here," Revis said Ryan told him. "We need you to play. We need you to win the Super Bowl."