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By Jeff Capellini, CBSNewYork.com
NEW YORK (CBS 2) — It was an offseason of pomp and circumstance, a series of days of one tidbit of good news after another. For the Jets, the sky became the limit.
The anticipation of 2010 finally being the year all the misery would end had taken on a life of its own. With the exception of some supposedly die-hard Patriots and Dolphins fans on Twitter who thought they actually have the first clue what the Jets will be about this season, many believed Gang Green would, when all was said and done, secure a spot in Dallas in February.
Of course, that was before Darrelle Revis played his cards, rolled the dice and threw caution to the wind.
The sad part of this entire holdout is many now think the Jets can’t win a Super Bowl without the league’s best defensive back. This is called Panic 101, a course taught by the naysayers seemingly every season and an elective many are dropping calculus for at SUNY Cortland. Some buy into it and change their thought process from one of exuberant optimism to that of the old familiar waiting for the other shoe to drop mindset, while others say keep the faith. All will be fine in the world soon enough. There’s a long way to go.
It seems like there are more of the former than the latter these days.
Depending on who you believe, Tuesday is a huge day in Revis’ life because many have reported that if Aug. 10 goes by without the corner reporting to camp he will lose a year of accrued eligibility toward free agency. In other words, if he doesn’t get his $15 million to $16 million a season in a new deal he will turn this holdout that has already made many nervous into a no-holds barred season-long fistfight.
There’s a good possibility Jets fans won’t see Revis’ No. 24 on any field, practice or otherwise, this season. They should prepare for that fact. Now, the fans can blame Raiders owner Al Davis for acting like he’s senile by giving Nnamdi Asomugha a Simon Cowell contract. They can say the Jets are cheaping out because they are worried about potential 2011 labor strife. They can wonder aloud why by the grace of God GM Mike Tannenbaum would play such hardball with go-to guys like Revis, center Nick Mangold and linebacker David Harris.
The fans would be right to complain — loudly — in all three instances.
But it would serve no purpose.
The Jets currently are the players they have on the field up in Cortland. On paper they are still very, very good. Are they Super Bowl-worthy? It’s impossible to say at this point. It would be shortsighted to say they were destined for the big game even if Revis had never held out, assuming, of course, his contract protest does indeed last all season.
I kind of liken this scenario to a scene from “Hoosiers.” Coach Norman Dale is at a pep rally with his players prior to the first game and everyone keeps chanting the same sorry line: “We want Jimmy. We want Jimmy.”
Dale steps up to the mic and politely tells the crowd he would hope they would support who they are, and stop harping on who they are not.
Right now, the Jets are not the Darrelle Revis All-Stars. They are dozens of hopeful players looking to make their marks, make a team and then take 19 or so steps toward becoming champions. Revis is not helping them achieve any of that right now. At some point he may, but for now he’s just an everyday shmo in some Midwestern town eating egg noodles and ketchup as part of a sort of NFL witness protection program. He’s not helping anyone. He’s certainly not helping first-round pick Kyle Wilson get better or giving Antonio Cromartie tips on how he can become even better than he already is.
For all that Rex Ryan does right, he often inflames situations. Rex needs to stop talking about Revis. When asked in press conferences about his team’s best player, Rex needs to bite his tongue and turn the focus elsewhere. Now I realize that is like asking a WFAN radio host to not offer an opinion on the subject of the day, but, still, he needs to keep the talking points on the players that are in Cortland, not the one — the only one in the NFL currently under contract who chose to hold out — doing nothing and saying nothing but yet still stealing some of the spotlight away.
Revis changes games just by suiting up. We all know it. But with him in street clothes it’s up to guys like Ryan and Cromartie, Mark Sanchez and LaDainian Tomlinson, Bart Scott and Calvin Pace, etc., to do their best to make everyone forget about the guy who isn’t at camp and instead turn their attention to the many who are there.
And just in case people are wondering where I stand on Revis, I have said repeatedly this man has earned the right to do whatever he wants. Is it right that he’s the eighth highest paid Jets defensive back in 2010? Probably not. I realize he made his own bed here. He signed that initial contract after holding out during his rookie season. But at the same time he also went out and played like a god. The Jets have never had a player like this, so I, and many like me, tend to want to cut him some slack and look past him seemingly turning his back on his teammates at the start of what is expected to be the greatest season in franchise history.
But that brings me back to my earlier point. What Revis is doing is his perogative, one that he’s earned the right to do and one many think he should do. The Jets and the fans can’t be bothered with it. They have bigger fish to fry.
The last thing in the world I want to hear is the Jets fell short of their ultimate goal in 2010 because Revis wasn’t around. That won’t cut it. It’s a bush league excuse. One man is not 53, regardless of the fact that that one man has gifts unlike any other player at his position in the game.
The idea here is to make everyone forget about Revis, not make excuses for him or the front office. The Jets have the personnel and coaching to do just that.
“We want Jimmy. We want Jimmy.” Hell, we all want Jimmy.
But, Jets fans, Rex’s bunch can win without him. The sooner you come to grips with that the better off you’ll be.
Stick that in your Hard Knocks pipe and smoke it.
(Jeff Capellini is a senior editorial editor for CBSNewYork.com. He also writes under the moniker “The Green Lantern” on the Jets, Yankees, Islanders and many other things Gotham sports. Please follow him on Twitter at @greenlanternjet)