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SportsColumnistsBob Glauber

Too close to call, but Woodson picked off my vote


Darrelle Revis may have lost out to Packers cornerback Charles Woodson for Defensive Player of the Year honors, but at least Revis hasn't lost his sense of perspective.

Asked Tuesday if he would trade a Super Bowl ring for the highest honor accorded a defensive player, he replied: "No, I would not. If you go down a champion, that can never be taken away."

Jets coach Rex Ryan wasn't quite as circumspect as Darrelle Revis. Ryan responded with a dig at the voters who went for Charles Woodson by commending those who selected Revis.

"I'd like to congratulate the people that voted for Darrelle Revis, and say that these guys really know the game," Ryan said. "You've got to look at all the numbers, not just a number about this stat or that stat."

Full disclosure: I was one of those voters on the 50-member media panel, and I wrestled long and hard with this decision, more than any I can recall with an individual award. I must have gone back and forth half a dozen times, weighing Woodson's incredible production that included a career-high nine interceptions, three of which he returned for touchdowns, against Revis' brilliance as a shutdown cornerback against many of the NFL's top receivers.

In some ways, there is no right or wrong answer, because both players are so deserving; in fact, I can't ever recall a Defensive Player of the Year competition so close.

In the end, I went with Woodson, for reasons I'll explain in a moment.

For Ryan, it was a no-brainer, even if he was only a tad biased in his assessment because he sees Revis every day. In explaining his reasons, he even took a swipe at Woodson and the Packers' defense.

"You've got to look at all the numbers," Ryan said. "A number that I think is interesting would be eight. And no, that's not the amount of touchdown passes Green Bay gave up against Arizona . That's the number of touchdown passes we gave up all season as the Jets. The biggest reason for that is Darrelle Revis."

There is no disputing Ryan's conviction about Revis' dominant season as a cover corner. It was breathtaking to watch him shut down the likes of Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Marques Colston, Andre Johnson, the Panthers' Steve Smith and Chad Ochocinco. Revis had 31 passes defensed, compared to 18 for Woodson. Revis was so brilliant that he essentially cut the field in half and made opposing quarterbacks look to options other than their go-to receivers. It was a major factor in the Jets being the top-ranked defense in both yards and points allowed.

But the Packers' defense also performed exceptionally well, ranking second to the Jets in overall defense, an improvement from 22nd the year before. And Woodson, at age 33, was a huge part of that quantum leap. His versatility was remarkable. Woodson had a career-high 74 tackles, 18 passes defensed, and four forced fumbles. Not only that, but he played four different positions in Dom Capers' defense: cornerback, nickel corner, safety and linebacker. In the end, it was that resourcefulness that turned out to be the deciding factor in my vote.

Did the Packers' defensive meltdown against the Cardinals make things any easier after casting the ballot? No way. But this vote was about the regular season, just as Peyton Manning's four MVP awards are about regular-season brilliance, irrespective of playoff disappointments.

Revis, of course, didn't have a vote on the AP ballot, but he did make a choice for Defensive Player of the Year for Sporting News. His choice: Woodson.

A tough call any way you look at it. But I suspect it may not be that tough moving forward. At age 24 and with his career ahead of him, this won't be the only season Revis will be a factor for the NFL's highest honor for a defensive player. There is little doubt he'll win one before long. Maybe even more than one.

Besides, Revis has something bigger in mind.

"The big goal here is getting that ring," he said. "We haven't won one in 40-plus years. That's what it's about."

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