As Darrelle Revis walked through the smoke near the tunnel at the Bucs draft party waiting to be introduced, fans leaned over the railings at Raymond James Stadium Thursday to catch an early glimpse of the Pro Bowl cornerback, extended their hands and screamed greetings at him.
"Good luck, Darrelle!'' one fan shouted. "Reee-vus, Reee-vus, Reee-vus,'' another chanted. "Revis Island comes to Tampa, baby,'' a third chimed in.
Revis, who was traded from the Jets only four days ago, smiled broadly and slapped hands with about a half dozen fans before making his way (walking, not running) to the 50-yard line where he had been preceded by seven other Bucs stars, including 49ers free agent safety Dashon Goldson.
The Bucs entered Thursday's draft without a first-round pick, having traded it to the Jets as part of the compensation for Revis. But that didn't dampen the enthusiasm among fans. If anything, it added to it. Even Revis said he felt like he had been selected in the draft all over again.
"Yeah, it kind of feels like that, all the excitement and everything going on,'' Revis said. "I'm excited and I'm sure my teammates are and the organization as well. We're excited just to come out here to this draft party and show a little bit of excitement and have fun with it.''
When Goldson, a two-time Pro Bowl player, signed a five-year, $41.5-million in March, he had no idea the Bucs would be trading for the best cornerback in football. As the hjighlights of both Revis and Goldson played on the Jumbotron, it was easy for Bucs fans to envision plenty of exciting fall Sundays.
"Definitely, when you get a player like that come to your football team, it's very exciting to be a part of,'' Goldson said. "I mean, they already had a good secondary and a young safety that was pretty good. Us becoming a part of it is going to be special.''
What impact can a shutdown corner like Revis do for a defense?
"It limits what an offense can do,'' Goldson said. "But I'm sure we'll be all over trhe field, not just on one side. A lot of teams will have to respect who they're going up against and it should make things interesting on Sundays.''