FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - It's the type of debate that bows to subjectivity and is impossible to clinch definitively. But it's the perfect fodder for talk at the water cooler or in the barber shop: Is Darrelle Revis the best NFL cornerback of all time?
On Thursday, the Jets' training camp facility was, for all intents and purposes, one big water cooler, with players and coaches making their cases for which cornerback -- Revis, Deion Sanders, Champ Bailey, Rod Woodson -- stands above the rest.
Brandon Marshall got it started with his emphatic comments on ESPN's "First Take" when he was asked if the Jets' secondary is the best he's ever faced.
"Yeah, it's the best," he said. "And I've been around some great ones . . . practiced against Champ Bailey last three years, practiced against Charles "Peanut" Tillman, played against some great guys. I didn't play against Deion, I don't think.
"But Darrelle Revis is the best in the league. Ever. Ever. Ever."
As far as active players go, Marshall's word carries as much weight as anyone's.
"I've played against him going on nine years now," said Marshall, who played the previous three seasons with the Bears. "He's excellent at what he does. He's a technician. And he's really crafty, really smart. And he works hard."
Cornerback Antonio Cromartie didn't hesitate in agreeing that Revis is the best of all time.
"True statement," he said twice.
Revis, a four-time first-team All-Pro in the eight years he has been in the NFL, was humbled.
"It's an honor," said Revis, 30, who noted that he hasn't put much time into evaluating how his career stacks up against past greats. "I mean, I don't really have that many words for it. I know it's an honor, and I appreciate it. People see your body of work and what you've done. But still got a long ways to go."
Revis was quick to throw similar praise in Marshall's direction, comparing him to Detroit's Calvin Johnson, who led the NFC in receiving yards in three of the past four seasons.
"If there could be another Megatron, it would be him," Revis said. "I would put those two, him and Calvin Johnson, in the same category of big, tall receivers, 6-5, 230-plus and can run like a skill player."
While two of the game's best in the last decade gushed over each other, coach Todd Bowles reminded everyone that it's difficult to compare separate eras, and even more difficult to deem an active player the best to ever play the position.
"Personally, I don't think anybody's better than Deion," Bowles said. "You got to go through a career and then get put in the Hall of Fame and measure it that way. But the things Deion was able to do as a player, punt return, kick return and offensively and the speed and awareness he had, that's hard to be matched in any era. Mike Haynes was before that and I thought Mike was one of the best that ever played, if not the best. And he doesn't get talked about."
It's a debate that Bowles knows can go on and on.
"We could be out here for a year," he said with a laugh. "All of them are great players."