Most sports fans know the feeling. Losing a star player stings like hell. It almost feels like you're being dumped. And it certainly hurts just a little more when they join your biggest rival. It's like she's leaving you for your brother.
That's what happened a year ago when All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis decided to sign with the New England Patriots. Revis had spent the previous year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after being traded there from New York in 2013, but many expected him to return to Gang Green after a one-year hiatus. Others figured he might move on elsewhere, but few Jets fans could fathom the idea of Revis in New England.
But this particular story of betrayal has somewhat of an awkward twist. See, after winning a Super Bowl with the Pats, Revis became a free agent again. And now, he's back in green and white on a five-year, $70 million contract.
In order to get an idea of how they were feeling after riding an emotional roller coaster on Revis Island, Bleacher Report caught up with two diehard Jets fans who a year ago achieved fleeting fame for defacing their pricey No. 24 jerseys. Impressively, neither is stubborn. With no more stars crossed—spoiler alert—both Sam Johnson and Harry Bailey are ready to love Darrelle Revis again.
Their stories in their own words:
Sam Johnson: We got our boy back...and I'm buying his jersey again
The first thing you need to know is that I absolutely bleed green. The New York Jets are much more than just a favorite franchise to me, the New York Jets are a part of me. The first sporting event I ever watched on TV was a Jets game with my dad.
My father was born and raised in Harlem, my mother in Seattle. But I never watched Seahawks games because my mother didn't watch football. So although I have lived in the state of Washington my whole life, all I know is New York Jets football.
My father meant the world to me, and watching the Jets play with him was the highlight of my week every week during football season. My father passed away six years ago, and this football team is one of the last remaining things I use to try and feel his spirit with me.
Watching the Jets makes me feel happier than almost anything on this earth. So when I say I take Jets football seriously, I mean it. Curtis Martin was always my favorite player, but after he retired Darrelle Revis emerged as our knight in shining armor. I had never been a bigger fan of a player. I always thought he was the savior of the franchise, "the best corner in the LEAGUE!"
I repped my Revis jersey anytime I could. I truly believed he would be the main reason we made it back to the Super Bowl at long last. Next thing you know, he's holding out for a contract. I shrug it off, believing there is no way in hell we'd ever let Revis go. I thought he'd be a Jet for life.
Skip forward a year to when Revis was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I was saddened, but knew he would always be my boy and I would ALWAYS rep Darrelle Revis. He was a Jet at heart, and at the same time, I had suspicions that the plan was to let him go for a year and try to sign him back the next.
Then it's 2014, and rumors are [head coach] Rex Ryan wants Revis back BAD. But [general manager] John Idzik isn't going for it and the Patriots are showing interest. I'm thinking, "Well, even if we can't sign him back there's NO WAY IN HELL he'd sign with the New England Patriots."
I thought Revis truly shared the hatred for that franchise that I do—and I think most of Jets Nation does.
Then it happens. March 12, 2014, close to 7 p.m. where I am, 10 p.m. ET. Breaking news: Darrelle Revis signs massive two-year agreement with the New England Patriots. I can tell you now I was immediately engulfed in rage. I felt so let down, so betrayed. How could he sell US out? THE FANS! Even after most of us supported him while he was in Tampa, wished him well through his recovery from a torn ACL. The people that bought and CHERISHED his jersey. No. 24, Revis, best corner in the game.
He was dead to me. I wanted nothing to do with him ever again. I said to myself, "Nope—this jersey is GARBAGE now! That sellout." The rest was history. I burned the jersey, posted it to Twitter, even mentioning Revis in the tweet.
Jets Nation blew up, mainly in agreement. "I'm going to laugh if he comes back next year," some told me. It even made its way to Bleacher Report. I loved it. I wanted everyone to know that I thought it was an all-time low to sell out your fans as if they're the ones who traded you and they're the ones who didn't offer you your desired contract.
I talked s--- about him throughout the 2014 season, hoping he'd get burnt every play (WISHFUL THINKING). I hated him.
When Revis became a free agent this offseason, I was excited, hopeful, but realistic. He just won a Super Bowl with my most hated franchise, a franchise known for winning time and time again. There's no way he wants back in New York.
Breaking news: Darrelle Revis and the New York Jets have come to terms. I scream with excitement, I do laps around the house, I hug everyone around me. I COMPLETELY forget the last year has happened. I put it past me so fast.
You know why? We got our boy back! I honestly thought I'd never forgive Darrelle for turning his back on us, but now? Having him back on the roster? I couldn't be happier. Revis Island is back in New York and you f------ bet I'm buying his jersey again.
Harry Bailey: All is forgotten, grudge dropped; also re-purchasing a No. 24 jersey
When Darrelle Revis decided to sign with the New England Patriots in March of 2014, I felt betrayed. I know the Jets did him wrong when he went to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers [in 2013], but I understood the Jets didn’t want to take a chance on Revis after his ACL injury.
But when Revis had a chance to return home after his tenure with the Bucs, he decided to go to the enemy. I'm a big Jets fan, and Revis was my favorite player at the time (I guess in some ways he’s still my favorite player). When he went to the Patriots, I was furious.
When you are a Jets fan and you see a key player from your team go straight to the enemy, that's a slap to the face. I wore the No. 24 jersey with pride until Revis betrayed the Jets. When that happened, when he decided to join the enemy, I decided to create an episode on my YouTube sports show in honor of burning his jersey.
I knew it would create buzz on the Internet, but at the time I didn’t have any second thoughts about burning his jersey. Many people watched the episode and responded. Most comments were by those who were not big fans of the Jets. I ignored the comments because I figured they didn’t understand how a key player can leave your team to join a rival team. Jets-Patriots is one of the biggest rivalries in sports.
At the end of the day, if he saw that he had a better chance to win a Super Bowl ring with the Patriots, I can’t argue with him. I may not like the Patriots, but they ultimately proved to be the superior team in the AFC East. I can’t ignore all the division titles they've won in recent years.
But I'm happy Revis came back home to Jets Nation. He got his ring and now he’s back with the Green and White to help us Jets fans witness something we’ve been craving for years: A trip to the Super Bowl.
Revis says he wants to bring a championship to the Jets. I feel this situation is similar to LeBron James coming back to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Revis has his ring now, so he wants Jets fans to experience their team going to the Super Bowl and winning a championship.
If I met Revis face to face, I would not apologize for burning the jersey. He still went to the enemy. He still went to the Patriots. I feel if he went to any other team besides the Patriots or the Dolphins, I wouldn't have burned the jersey. Am I embarrassed I burned the jersey? No, I'm not. At the time I felt I needed to do so. Do I regret burning it? Yes, but that's only because now I have to go buy a new one.
That said, all is forgotten with Revis, I no longer hold a grudge towards him. I would buy another Revis jersey and I wouldn’t burn it this time around.
Darrelle Revis will bring the New York Jets back to relevancy, and those who will go up against him each game this upcoming season will be stranded on REVIS ISLAND.
Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL for Bleacher Report since 2012.