FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The last time Darrelle Revis walked off the field at Gillette Stadium, he heard cheers after helping the New England Patriots reach the Super Bowl.

He returns to Foxborough on Sunday, but this time, as the enemy.


“I don’t think I’ll be welcomed back with open arms, I can tell you that,” the New York Jets’ cornerback said Wednesday. “They’re fans and they love the Patriots, and I’m not in that color jersey. We’ll see how it goes. It’ll be fun.”

For the first six years of his career, Revis learned to despise the Patriots. He once called Patriots Coach Bill Belichick a “jerk,” and was the one player Jets fans could count on to keep their team in any matchup.

But a bitter contract dispute prompted then-GM John Idzik to send Revis to Tampa Bay. It seemed weird to see the cornerback in pewter and red when the Buccaneers opened the 2013 season against the Jets.

Things got even stranger when he signed with rival New England as a free agent, and it crushed many Jets fans to see him celebrate a Super Bowl win in February.

“It’s a memory that I will never forget,” Revis said. “It’s 2015 now and now I’m here. All of that is behind me at this point. When I’m sitting down somewhere when I’m done, that’s a memory that I’ll always cherish.”

He has been welcomed back to the Jets with open arms, like a prodigal son. The fans who didn’t trash their green No. 24 jerseys have dusted them off. In many ways, it’s as if he never left.

“This is where I feel most comfortable at,” Revis said. “This is home to me.”

Revis was the biggest of GM Mike Maccagnan’s free-agent signings over the winter, bringing back a player who was the team’s first-round pick in 2007 and rose to stardom as one of the game’s best cornerbacks.

He played like the Revis of old in Belichick’s defense and was a major reason the Patriots were able to bring home a fourth Super Bowl title. The only reason he was available last March was that the Patriots had an option that would have paid Revis $20 million and cost New England a $25 million cap hit.

He was one and done with the Patriots and the Jets swooped in and signed him to a five-year, $70 million deal that included $39 million guaranteed. Revis got paid, fans went bananas over getting their guy back and Todd Bowles was heading into his first season as coach with one of the best defensive players in the league on his team.

Revis’ locker is in the same spot in the Jets’ locker room. He looks right at home in his No. 24, too. Revis insists it was never strange being on the other side of the rivalry.

“No, I can have a pink jersey on, it doesn’t matter,” he said with a smile. “I’ve had three different color jerseys on. At this point in my career, it’s about just loving the game and playing.”

As most of his Jets teammates have done to this point, Revis downplayed the significance of the Jets (4-1) taking on the Patriots (5-0) and perhaps making a statement.

A win Sunday would put the Jets in first place and firmly establish them as a legitimate playoff contender.

“It’s as big as you want it to be,” Revis said. “For us, it’s still early in the season. We’re still trying to get better and better each week. It is a big game because it is a conference game, but at the same time, it’s still early in the season. … Whoever’s on the schedule that week, that’s who we’ve got to play.”

Revis has been a force on a defense that ranks No. 1 overall and is third in the NFL with 15 takeaways. Revis leads the league with six takeaways: three interceptions and three fumble recoveries.

“They’ve been playing lights out on offense and we’ve been playing lights out on defense,” Revis said of the Patriots. “I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a fun matchup.”