INDIANAPOLIS – A few thoughts on Darrelle Revis, who was informed by the Jets on Tuesday that he will be released next week:
1. The thing I will remember most about Revis was the way he practiced. I have never seen anyone practice as hard as Revis did. He gave everything on every play in practice and never wanted to give up an inch. The stories are legendary of him not wanting to even surrender a completion during walk-throughs. He got into a fight with practice squad receiver Patrick Turner in 2011 because he felt Turner was not giving him the right look to prepare him for Brandon Marshall that week. When Revis and Marshall became teammates in 2015, their practice matchups were like main events. Everyone stopped and stared. Their competitiveness boiled over last summer into an ugly fight, a sign of two alpha males going at it on the field.
Revis had many great moments for the Jets in games. Memorable interceptions like the one against Vincent Jackson of the Chargers in the 2009 playoff game or the one against the Cowboys on Sept. 11 in 2011 that sealed the game. But, for me, my image of him will always be in practice. He would always wear several layers, even when it was 100 degrees. That is how he will remain in my mind’s eye with his sweatsuit underneath his pads and getting in every receiver’s face on the field.
2. There is no denying Revis’ play slipped drastically in his second stint with the Jets, particularly in 2016. But I think the idea that this will somehow tarnish his legacy is ridiculous. I think this second stint with the Jets will be a footnote on his career, something that is vaguely remembered by Jets fans in 10 years. Do Mets fans remember Tom Seaver going 9-14 in 1983 when they think of him, or do they remember 25-7 in 1969?
Very few great players go out on top. Jim Brown and John Elway did not stick around long enough for his skills to diminish. Not many others don’t have a bad year or two at the end. For Jets fans, Joe Namath and Curtis Martin are probably the greatest players in franchise history along with Revis. Namath went 1-7 with four touchdowns and 16 interceptions in his final year with the Jets. Martin rushed for 735 yards and five touchdowns in 2005 when his body began to break down. Those years have done nothing to those players’ legacies and 2016 won’t do anything to Revis’.
3. All professional athletes have a certain level of crazy self-belief that can sometimes be called arrogance or at least bordering on it. They have to in order to get to the highest level of their sport. Revis’ belief in himself might have been greater than anyone I have ever been around. He absolutely refused to believe anyone could beat him and was extremely defensive when anyone came close. His self-belief was unwavering.
At one point, Bills receiver Stevie Johnson was having some success against Revis. Johnson had a few big games against him, and there were questions about Johnson having Revis’ number. The questions really bothered Revis, who refused to acknowledge Johnson was having any success against him.
In many ways, Revis was like Derek Jeter in that way. Jeter hated any negativity, and the media usually bring some negativity. Jeter was always accommodating in the clubhouse, but when he was in a slump, he hated talking about it. Revis always reminded me of him in that way.
That was a sign to me in 2016 that Revis really had slipped. He lost that edge. He began to actually acknowledge when guys got the better of him and he started giving reasons why — from his surgically repaired wrist to his age to his body breaking down. I remember after Week 1 last year, when A.J. Green had a big game, a bunch of us were going to interview Revis at his locker. The topic clearly was going to be what Green did and whether Revis was losing a step. I said sarcastically to a longtime Jets staffer, “This should be fun,” believing Revis would react poorly to this line of questioning. Instead, he praised Green and basically conceded he had a bad game. I was stunned. It was a bigger sign to me that Revis was no longer Revis than anything that happened on the field.
If Revis wants to keep playing, and all indications are that he does, he will have to regain that edge and attitude that made him great.
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