One of the best players in Jets history retired Wednesday, leaving fans of the team . . . what, exactly?
Sad? Wistful? Nostalgic? Thankful? Resentful? Indifferent?
Darrelle Revis leaves the NFL stage with a complicated legacy, one that will land him in the Hall of Fame next decade but not near the top of most fans’ best-loved lists.
Before saying goodbye, though, let us take the time to give the guy credit for the obvious:
For a few years, Revis defined the concept of a “shutdown cornerback” better than anyone since Deion Sanders and helped the Jets reach two AFC Championship Games.
The Jets wisely traded up to draft him 14th overall in 2007, and after establishing himself he played the position as well as anyone has from 2008 to 2011.
“Revis Island” was a delicious moniker for his section of the field, a zone few quarterbacks dared throw near. Revis’ brilliance was not New York-area hype; it was real.
When he lost the 2009 NFL Defensive Player of the Year award to Charles Woodson, then-Jets coach Rex Ryan called Revis’ season “the best year a corner has ever had.”
Alas, it was all too brief, as careers often are for elite cornerbacks.
Revis tore an ACL early in 2012, was traded to the Bucs in 2013, was released and signed with the Patriots — winning a Super Bowl ring in his one season there, making Jets fans feel even worse. When the Pats declined to pick up a contract option, he returned to the Jets for 2015.
In the middle of a 2016 season with the Jets during which he struggled with advancing age — and advancing weight — he told Newsday, “I’m breaking down. I’m 31. How many corners are 31 right now? The league’s getting younger.”
It appeared he was through when the Jets released him that offseason, but he landed with the Chiefs last November. That detour ended with a playoff loss to the Titans during which Revis widely was criticized for an apparent lack of effort.
The Chiefs let him go, and on Wednesday he made it official, four days after his 33rd birthday.
Along the way Revis proved a determined, savvy businessman. He held out of training camp in 2007 and 2010, and as he made the rounds he landed a series of lucrative contracts, testing the patience of teams and fans but securing more than $120 million in career earnings.
Revis said farewell with a statement that was gracious, thanking coaches, teammates and mentors, and finishing with the sentence, “Long Live Revis Island.” He did not mention the Jets or their fans.
Again, there is no diminishing Revis’ skills on the field or business sense off it. He came, he covered, he collected.
Jets fans should take this occasion to remember the good times, even though they seem like a long time ago and even if Revis failed to deliver the big prize — as has every other Jet of the past half-century.
Sam Darnold was 9 when Revis was drafted. The search for a new Jets star to love continues.