FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — For all his myriad accomplishments — the seven Pro Bowl appearances, the four first-team All-Pro selections and the Super Bowl ring — there is one regret for Darrelle Revis as he walks off into his NFL sunset after making his retirement official during Tuesday’s ceremonial sendoff from the Jets.
“I would’ve loved to play my whole career here and wear the green and white until I actually retired,” the 33-year-old Revis said. “Things happen, team acquisitions coming in and a different direction the team may want to go. It happens, it really does. That’s how I sum it up. It happens.”
What happened was the ill-fated John Idzik era, that two-year period from 2013-14 when the overmatched general manager decided Revis was worth more to the team as a bargaining chip for draft picks than a shutdown corner capable of dominating in his prime. Idzik tried to reconstruct the Jets in the mold of the Seahawks, where he had been an executive during the team’s rise to Super Bowl prominence by building through the draft.
He decided that Revis, who was coming off reconstructive knee surgery and in the market for a contract worth $16 million a season, wasn’t the right fit for a young team in a major roster remake.
The thinking had some merit to it, but in the end, the deal proved to be a dud. The Jets did get first-round defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, who looked like a budding star as a rookie, but he eventually flamed out both on and off the field and is no longer with the team. Idzik also got a fourth-round pick in 2014, but used it on receiver Jalen Saunders, who played for four teams as a rookie and never played another NFL game.
The hiatus from the Jets eventually did lead Revis to the pinnacle of team success; after being released by the Bucs in 2014, he won a Super Bowl in the worst of all possible places if you’re a Jets fan: New England.
Owner Woody Johnson did get his prized cornerback back the following year and signed him to a monster deal that included $39 million guaranteed. Revis was an elite player his first year back in New York, but his skills eroded quickly the following season, and he was released in a massive salary cap dump after the 2016 season. His career ended with a whimper last year after signing with the Chiefs and playing in only five regular-season games and a playoff loss in which he was criticized for not giving full effort.
“This journey was great. I enjoyed every bit of it,” said Revis, who undoubtedly will wind up in the Hall of Fame. “I put my heart and soul into wearing the green and white.”
And that’s how he’ll be remembered most — in a Jets’ uniform as the creator of “Revis Island,” where only a few quarterbacks dared to throw when he was in his prime.
Revis was one of the greatest shutdown cornerbacks in the game’s history, and that will be remembered far more than his two-year sojourn in Tampa and New England. Virtually unbeatable in one-on-one coverage — no matter the receiver — Revis earned his place in Jets’ history as only a handful of others. His name can be mentioned in the same breath as legends Joe Namath and Don Maynard, and he’ll eventually join them in Canton.
“I accomplished a lot in my career,” he said. “Every day, not just to be the best at my position, but to be the best on the field.”
For most of his time with the Jets, he was indeed the best player on the field. And not just for his own team. Time won’t change what happened when Revis said goodbye to the Jets for two years, but there’s no mistaking where his legacy still lies: on the island he created with the team in green and white.