Darrelle Revisretired on Wednesday. Five thoughts on one of the best to ever play the cornerback position.
1) Revis was the greatest Jet of all time. Yeah, yeah, I know. How dare I besmirch Broadway Joe! Trust me, I'm not doing that. I love that man. There's no question Joe Namath is the most importantJets player ever -- he put the franchise on the map and was the driving force behind Gang Green's lone (and lonely) Lombardi Trophy. Namath -- for better or worse -- remains the face of the Jets more than 40 years after he threw his last pass for them. But Revis is, pound-for-pound, the most complete, singularly dominant player to ever wear a Jets uniform. His apex -- which spanned from 2008 through 2011 -- was cornerback played at its highest level since Deion Sanders. In 2009 -- the season he should have walked away with Defensive Player of the Year honors, but didn't -- he posted the highest grade ever by a cornerback since analytics site ProFootballFocus.com started tracking the position in 2006. Revis erased a murderer's row of All-Pros and future Hall of Famers that year:
» Andre Johnson, HOU: 7 targets, 4 catches, 35 yards
» Randy Moss, NE: 7 targets, 4 catches, 24 yards
» Steve Smith, CAR: 6 targets, 1 catch, 5 yards
» Terrell Owens, BUF: 8 targets, 3 catches, 13 yards
» Randy Moss, NE: 11 targets, 5 catches, 34 yards, 1 TD
» Terrell Owens, BUF: 9 targets, 3 catches, 31 yards
» Roddy White, ATL: 10 targets, 4 catches, 33 yards
» Reggie Wayne, IND: 7 targets, 3 catches, 33 yards
» Chad Johnson, CIN: 4 targets, 0 catches, 0 yards
» Chad Johnson, CIN: 6 targets, 2 catches, 28 yards
» Reggie Wayne, IND: 5 targets, 3 catches, 55 yards
The following season, Revis was targeted just 56 times all season as his reputation took hold. When the Jets knocked off Peyton Manning and the Colts in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs, Revis held Reggie Wayne, who had 111 catches that season, to one reception for a single yard. Manning didn't even look Wayne's way in the second half. After the win, a reporter asked Revis if he broke a sweat during the game.
Said Wayne: "I shouldn't have even suited up."
Revis was the equalizer on the Rex Ryan Jets teams that reached the AFC title game in 2009 and 2010. Sometimes it feels like Jets fans can't have nice things; having Revis was like being the poor kid who one day shows up at school wearing gleaming new Jordans. Most football fans just assumed Jets fans stole him. He made a fringe playoff team with Mark Sanchez at quarterback a Super Bowl contender and provided an entire fanbase with an adrenaline shot of swagger in the era of Brady and Belichick.
2) There should be no question about Revis' Hall of Fame credentials. Revis finished his career with 29 interceptions, a relatively modest total that would be the fewest ever for a player enshrined in Canton. But judging the Hall of Fame merits of Revis (or any corner) on his interception total would be like an ornery baseball fan insisting you have to be a .300 hitter to go to Cooperstown. In Revis' case, his total is not inflated for a simple reason: Quarterbacks were terrified to throw at him. Revis had excellent hands to go with his quickness, instincts and expert physicality; every pass thrown his way was a 50/50 ball at best.
Another qualm rests in the relative brevity of his career. As stated above, Revis was the most dominant defender in the game from 2008 through 2011. He was in rising-star territory as a first-round rookie in 2007. He was never quite the same player after he tore his ACL early in the 2012 campaign, but he did pick up a Super Bowl ring in the back half of his career (more on that in a bit).
With Revis, it's all about the transcendent nature of his greatness. Ryan once called him a "once-in-a-lifetime player." This is the territory inhabited by Jim Brown and Gale Sayers, two first-ballot Hall of Famers who didn't play a snap beyond age 30 (Sayers left the game due to injury, Brown to pursue an acting career). Revis, who played his final snap at age 32, deserves similar treatment by Hall voters.
3) Revis is already in the Nickname Hall of Fame. Has a moniker ever more neatly captured the brilliance of a player than Revis Island? Revis took half the football field out of play for the opposing offense, turning it into his own private resort. When Revis lost a step in later years, the Revis Island nickname could be easily weaponized for evil, but that's all in the game, as they say. At his best, Rex Ryan could take an opponent's top offensive chess piece in the passing game, hand him a fruity drink with an umbrella in it and say, "See ya in four hours, pal." A compulsory vacation from pro football relevancy.
4) Revis was a legendary competitor ... on the field and at the negotiation table. In his 11 years, Revis signed contracts worth a total value of $291 million. His actual cash earnings, according to Spotrac.com, total more than $124 million. He is the only defensive back to make more than $100 million. Revis' 2010 Jets holdout included a fruitless five-hour meeting at Roscoe's Diner in Roscoe, New York, that lives on in franchise lore. There is no better look into the high-stakes, high-pressure world of superstar-team negotiations than the Revis-Jets showdown documented that year on HBO's "Hard Knocks." Said Ryan when Revis finally re-entered the fold on the eve of Week 1: "It looks like they got some slap---- player they just picked up. He's coming in, too."
5) The back half of Revis' career was a roller coaster (and not always a good one). Revis tore his ACL in 2012, and the injury provided an unfortunate but clean dividing line to the two sides of his career. He squabbled with the Jets over his contract again after that season, and this time, the Jets didn't blink, pulling the trigger on a blockbuster trade to the Bucs. Revis lasted just one year in Tampa (a weird and forgettable stopover) before a one-year mercenary tenure with the Patriots that resulted in a Super Bowl title. (To extend an earlier analogy, being a Jets fan watching Revis win a title with Bill Belichick was like being the poor kid who shows up with the Jordans, then runs into the evil star jock, who punches you in the stomach and steals your shoes.)
The Jets brought Revis back with a massive contract before the 2015 season, but it was a poor investment. Revis' play cratered by the second year of the deal, his effort level dropped off noticeably (this remains especially depressing, given the celebrated competitiveness of his earlier years), he was arrested for his role in a Pittsburgh street fight (the charges didn't stick) and the Jets ate $6 million to walk away from the partnership before the 2017 season. Revis latched on with the Chiefs late last season. This was Michael Jordan leaving the Wizards to sign a 10-day contract with the Jazz.
That won't be the version of Revis I'll remember, though. It will be the man at his peak, deflating the oversized egos of star wide receivers and playing one of the sport's most difficult positions at a near perfect level. Revis is gone, but Revis Island will live on in the National (Football League) Register of Historic Places.
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