FOXBORO -- Fans lined up in droves to see Darrelle Revis and ask for an autograph (or at least snap a decent photo for Instagram). They were 10 or 11 deep in some places with their hands out, shouting toward him, one of their new favorite Patriots.
Suffice it to say it was a different reception than what Revis was used to from the people at Gillette Stadium. After six seasons with the Jets, there may still be some scarring to overcome in New England when it comes to fan interaction.
"It’s been awesome," Revis said of the reception. "It’s been kind of weird in a way, but I’m a Patriot now, and that’s how things go, and you’ve just got to roll with it. They’ve accepted me, and I’m just happy to be here and play ball."
Weird how, you ask?
"Well, we all know that," Revis said, laughing now. "Because I was on the other side with another team, with a rival. But I’m here now, and I’m just so excited. I’ve been in the best shape in my career, and I’m just happy to be out here and play ball."
Revis molded himself into the game's best cornerback -- and one of the NFL's best defenders -- 200 miles south of Foxboro in East Rutherford, NJ. It was there he was taught to hate all things Patriots. A half-a-dozen years on the job earned him a doctorate in that particular concentration.
Now Revis insists that all of that has been forgotten. His relationship with his new coach has been renewed and blossomed quickly -- much like his relationship with his new fans.
"It really doesn’t matter what color you’ve got on," Revis said. "I’ve always looked at it [like] as long as you’re playing the game you love, then it really doesn’t matter. When I played at [Pittsburgh University], we were blue and gold. It really doesn’t matter. In New York, it was green and white. Tampa Bay is red and black and gold. It really doesn’t matter. This is my eighth year, and like I said, I’m excited about this year. I worked my butt off this offseason to get in shape and get my weight down, and I’m just getting prepared for a long season."
But what about the time he called Tom Brady out as a poor sport? Or the time he suggested Belichick wasn't giving credit where it was due? Surely Revis wouldn't have said at the time that the emotion he felt for the Patriots "really doesn't matter." It likely helped fuel some of his great performances.
But all of that is in the past, Revis explained. Now he wears a navy blue sweat suit and a silver helmet. He looks like a Patriot . . . and he avoids controversy like one, too.
"That’s rivalries," he said of his now stowed-away feelings for Belichick and the Patriots. "There are college rivalries, there are high school rivalries, [and] there are rivalries in the pros as well. I was on that side, and you’re not supposed to like your rival, no matter where you play. I’m here now, and all that is in the past. The only thing I can focus on is what I do right now. And right now, I’m a Patriot."