Respectfully yours: J.T. signs for Jets fans

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Jason Taylor has started a grassroots campaign to win over New York Jets fans one at a time.

"You've got to campaign a little bit for votes and cheers," Taylor told me after Wednesday morning's public practice in the new Meadowlands stadium. "This is my new fan base. I can appreciate it. I can appreciate the boos, and I really can appreciate the cheers."

Taylor easily signed the most autographs. As the players lined up for a Cal Ripkenesque jog along the edge of the field to high-five fans, Taylor lagged behind and signed as many signatures as he could.

"You never want to go to the wall to sign autographs and have nobody want it or throw it back," Taylor said.

The fans didn't. They were giddy over watching him perform penance.

Taylor didn't hide his disdain for the Jets during his 12 seasons with the Miami Dolphins. He ragged on the Jets' fans, their stadium, their chant, their perceived arrogance under coach Rex Ryan.

When Taylor emerged from the tunnel for a practice attended by an announced crowd of 12,000, he braced for a negative reaction.

"This is the first time I've been around the fans in a big setting," Taylor said. "The previous practices weren't attended like this one was. Out of the tunnel, I was walking with [linebacker Bryan Thomas] and told him on the way out 'Here come the boos. Watch.' Sure enough, they came.

"But it makes you smile. At least they know who you are and they're looking for you."

The Jets' new outside linebacker has some help from a welcoming committee. Nose tackle Kris Jenkins and inside linebacker Bart Scott are helping to make sure the fans embrace him.

"Bart already said 'I don't want to hear anybody booing and giving you a hard time. You're one of us now,'" Taylor said.

During the practice, Jenkins went into a corner of the stadium and asked the crowed to serenade Taylor.

Jay-son Tay-lor! Jay-son Tay-lor!

Jenkins then asked Taylor to go over and say hello.

"But I made him go with me," Taylor said. "I was worried they were going to draw me over there, and someone was going to throw a beer on me.

"They've been chanting my name up here for 12 years. It's what they say after the name I'm working on changing. It was a nice reception. They were smiling this time, where in years past it wasn't always smiles."