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Friday, Sep 19, 2014

Fennelly: Bucs, fans welcome Revis aboard

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TAMPA -

With the 13th pick in the 2013 NFL draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select …

Bill Barlow, 40, a law officer from St. Petersburg, stood in the sun outside Raymond James Stadium late Thursday afternoon, waiting for the gates to open at the Bucs Official Draft Party — as if Elliot Ness and his Untouchables are running around town breaking up unofficial ones.

But a party it was, official and all, and Bill Barlow christened it in his own way. He wore a black Bucs jersey, No. 24, but with no name on the back. The old name had been torn off — not BARRON, but WILLIAMS, for Cadillac.

“I took it off this week, when we got the trade,” Barlow said. “I’m waiting to put REVIS on it.”

A little earlier, standing in a stadium hall, Darrelle Revis admitted, “It is a big night.”

It was draft night, and the man the Bucs picked was introduced last, but not least, after his headliner teammates had taken the field, before a record crowd the Bucs estimated at 15,000, running through a tunnel of spectators.

There was Gerald McCoy and Adrian Clayborn and Mark Barron, Lavonte David and Josh Freeman and Doug Martin, and the other new man, safety Dashon Goldson.

Then, over the public address system …

“Now, Bucs fans, meet your newest Buccaneer … four time Pro Bowler … three-time, first-team All Pro … your new shut-down cornerback. Ladies and gentlemen … Darrelle Revis.”

Out of the tunnel he walked, wearing a No. 1 jersey, his name on the back. Then he jogged, then he walked, then danced ever so slightly, then he walked. Are you writing all this down?

“It’s awesome,” Revis said later. “This is for the fans. It’s all noise right now, but we wanted to get everybody excited for tonight.”

True, it couldn’t begin to match the electricity that must have been running through Kansas City after the Chiefs made the first pick in the draft. I can just Chiefs fans banging pots and pans.

Thank God — we got the offensive tackle from Central Michigan.

Darrelle Revis felt a little like it was draft night, 2007, when he went 14th overall to the New York Jets. It was that kind of buzz. And it felt a little like a typical pregame — and that’s been a while, before the knee.

“I haven’t played football since Week 3, since my injury,” Revis said. “I got out there and danced a little bit. It felt good. I felt the butterflies and everything. It’s good to get back to running out of that tunnel.”

Revis and Goldson mingled with Bucs suite holders, sponsors and corporate partners before they were introduced, and later signed some more, this time with their new teammates.

Forget Revis’ knee — what about writer’s cramp?

“My pleasure,” he told one fan.

People couldn’t get enough of the new corner. When he came through the door in one stadium club area, it was on. It took 23 seconds for someone to spill a drink on Revis, and one second for him to smile and say it wasn’t a problem. He was mobbed. The Bucs went 16-0 at their draft party. They ran the table Thursday night.

Revis and Goldson seemed into it. Revis signed hats, footballs, pennants, jerseys, shirts, flags, posed for endless photos, arms around fans. People climbed under or around appetizer trays to get at the main course.

Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert were all still out there when the Jets used the pick from the Bucs to take Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri.

The Bucs already had their man.

The only question is whether Mark Barron will give Darrelle Revis the 24 off his back.

“I’m thinking about it,” Barron said with a smile.

Bill Barlow is ready with needle and thread … and REVIS.

“I’m just waiting on the word.” Barlow said.

Official word, that is.

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