PHOENIX -- Things change fast in the NFL, but one of the notable takeaways from the league's owners meetings is that frosty feelings and the rivalry between the New England Patriots and New York Jets remains alive and well.
The Jets' filing of tampering charges against the Patriots on Tuesday night is the latest chapter in an entertaining back-and-forth that goes back to 1997 when Bill Parcells left the Patriots to become Jets head coach. He took New England running back Curtis Martin with him as a restricted free agent, a coup for New York and the Patriots never capitalized on the draft picks received in return for the future Hall of Fame rusher.
Bill Belichick resigned as "HC of the NYJ" three years later and came back to New England, where he had served as an assistant under Parcells in 1996. The Patriots gave up a first-round draft choice to the Jets, 16th overall, to make it happen.
That decision came as Jets ownership was in transition, with Woody Johnson purchasing the franchise in January of 2000 and immediately getting caught in the "Border War."
Belichick's icy feelings for the Jets have been well documented over the years, and when former assistant Eric Mangini left to become Jets head coach in 2006, it lit another match to an already flammable dynamic.
The Mangini-led Jets blew the whistle on the Patriots' videotaping procedures, a story which spiraled out of control in 2007. Will hard feelings from that situation ever subside?
Then from 2009-14, Jets head coach Rex Ryan did all he could to elevate his club to the Patriots' level, declaring that it was among his top priorities to bring New England back to the pack. He had his moments (e.g. playoff win at New England following the 2010 season), but considering that the Patriots are 22-8 against the Jets since 2001, it's been a fairly lopsided rivalry on the field over the last decade-plus.
And, most recently this offseason, it's the Darrelle Revis tug-o-war.
"No, you tampered!"
Many seem to agree that Johnson's remarks about Revis were the textbook definition of tampering, a public statement declaring interest in a player under contract who was about to be a free agent. There also seems to be near universal agreement that several teams tamper; they just aren't foolish enough to say so publicly. And most seem to be in alignment that Robert Kraft's remarks about Revis, spoken in past tense, wouldn't fall into the category of tampering but is a statement by the Jets that they feel the Patriots' charge is frivolous.
The Jets have a new regime with head coach Todd Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan, and their administration is off to a busy start with an aggressive approach in free agency headlined by snatching Revis away from New England. But it wouldn't be complete, of course, without firing a retaliation shot in the direction of the Patriots.
It's been a relatively quiet four-day stretch here at the NFL's owners meetings; the hot topic of discussion has been about possibly moving the extra point. Then came the Jets' salvo on Tuesday night to spice things up and remind us that while some of the people in the rivalry might change, hard feelings between the franchises don't.