FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – On a day in which he fired his general manager as well as his long-time head coach, New York Jets owner Woody Johnson's "Black Monday" might be getting darker. Johnson may have inadvertently engaged in tampering during a news conference after the firings were announced.
Johnson answered 36 questions on Monday morning, but none perhaps more damaging than his response to a question about Darrelle Revis. Traded by the Jets two years ago, Revis found himself on the free-agent market this past offseason and reports indicated he wanted to return to the Jets. But no contract was ever offered by his old team and he ended up signing with the New England Patriots.
Asked about Revis, who could have surely helped one of the league's worst secondary units, Johnson didn't just praise the All-Pro cornerback. He flat-out courted "Revis Island."
“Darrelle is a great player and if I had thought I could have gotten Darrelle for that, I probably would have taken him back. It was our best judgment to do what we did. But Darrelle's a great player,” Johnson said.
“I'd love Darrelle to come back.”
And those six words right there might be considered tampering by the NFL.
Revis signed a deal with the Patriots last spring that includes an option for 2015 that is valued at $20 million. In all likelihood, New England would not want to commit to that number or that cap hit, making Revis a free agent. But he is currently under contract with the Patriots.
The Jets could potentially sign him if New England doesn't pick up that option, adding significance to Johnson's statements about a player currently under contract with another team.
Johnson's statement seems to fall under the NFL's tampering policy for this season. In fact, his statement almost mirrors the example cited in the policy:
“Any public or private statement of interest, qualified or unqualified, in another club’s player to that player’s agent or representative, or to a member of the news media, is a violation of this Anti-Tampering Policy. (Example of a prohibited comment: 'He’s an excellent player, and we’d very much like to have him if he were available, but another club holds his rights.') In addition, speculation by a club owner, executive, or employee on whether a player under contract to a second club may play for a third club in the future may negatively impact the relationship between the player and the club currently holding his rights. If comments are found to have adversely affected that relationship, a finding of tampering can result. All clubs should be aware that improper disclosure of confidential trade discussions with another club may be a violation of this section on prohibited public statements.”
A request for comment by Yahoo Sports to the NFL about possible tampering charges was declined. The Patriots did not respond to a request for comment on if they will file tampering charges.
Phil Perry of CSNNE reported that when asked about Johnson's comments on WEEI, Patriots coach Bill Belichick said, "I would think that the league would look into those comments."
UPDATE: Johnson released a statement, apologizing for the remarks and saying he called Patriots owner Robert Kraft to clarify the situation.
“I misspoke today when I commented on Darrelle Revis," Johnson said. "I would never interfere in the contractual relationship of a player with another team and should not have used those words. I called Robert Kraft this afternoon to emphasize those points.”
Related video - Shaun King on the Jets' decision to fire John Idzik & Rex Ryan:
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Kristian R. Dyer writes for Metro New York and is a contributor to Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KristianRDyer