INDIANAPOLIS — Given the emotional attachment to Darrelle Revis, possibly the greatest player ever to wear a Jets uniform, this was not an easy decision. But given the confluence of recent events, not the least of which was a noticeable drop-off in his performance, it was a no-brainer.
The Jets announced Tuesday night they would be releasing the 31-year-old cornerback when the new league year begins March 9, ending a run that began as a first-round selection in 2007. It blossomed into a Hall of Fame career and that unmistakable nickname “Revis Island,” and eventually a reunion after a two-year hiatus that brought him back for one final chapter.
Revis was the greatest shutdown corner of his generation, a player who could be trusted to snuff out even the greatest receiver lining up against him. A terrific player under Eric Mangini in his first two seasons, Revis became a star in Rex Ryan’s blitz-happy scheme that relied so heavily on reliable play from the cornerback position.
But time and injuries eventually chipped away at Revis’ skill set, and by the time he returned to the Jets after a Super Bowl run with the Patriots in 2014, he was not the same player. And by last season, there were the kind of moments that recalled the final days of Willie Mays with the Mets and Joe Namath with the Rams, Hall of Famers whose play had slipped into the abyss and who had become embarrassingly bad.
Even so, the Jets at least were willing to entertain the idea of a position shift for Revis, a chance at what Rod Woodson and Charles Woodson had once done with great success. But Revis himself put his future in doubt in the early morning of Feb. 12, allegedly getting into an altercation with two men in Pittsburgh and eventually being charged with four first-degree felonies and one misdemeanor.
There is no telling how the matter will be adjudicated. But the possibility of jail time and/or a suspension for violating the NFL’s personal-conduct policy made it far too risky for the Jets to continue with their offseason roster reconstruction with Revis still on the team. His five-year, $70-million contract had become an albatross, and with the Jets already having parted ways with established veterans Nick Mangold, Nick Folk and Breno Giacomini in a salary-cap purge, Revis had to go.
“Darrelle Revis is one of the greatest players to ever wear a Jets uniform,” owner Woody Johnson said in a statement last night. “His combination of talent, preparation and instincts is rare and helped him become one of the most dominant players of his generation.”
Revis said in an Instagram post shortly after his release that he harbors no ill will toward the Jets.
“I played some of my greatest football in green and white,” he wrote. “Jet nation has always been behind me, and without all of you, there would be no Revis Island. I love you New York!”
Revis will be back one day soon to take his rightful place in the team’s Ring of Honor. But for now, the painful truth had to be faced. The Jets had no choice other than to say goodbye.