The rising tides have come for Revis Island.
Darrelle Revis is retiring after 11 seasons, seven Pro Bowls, four first-team All-Pro appearances, more than $124 million in career earnings, and one Super Bowl ring. Revis submitted just about the closest thing possible to a perfect NFL career, and even a first-ballot Hall of Fame induction—which is no doubt five years away—doesn’t quite capture how good he was.
Revis’s peak was as high as any player’s at any position in recent NFL history. He could erase the opposing team’s no. 1 receiver in one-on-one coverage without safety help, an ultra-rare ability that gave then–Jets head coach Rex Ryan the schematic flexibility to develop exotic blitz packages and turn the 2009 and 2010 Jets into the league’s best defense. New York went to back-to-back AFC championship games in rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez’s first two seasons, and Revis was the defensive fulcrum.
Even the league’s best wideouts were stranded when put on Revis Island. Across three different games in November 2010, Revis held the Johnsons —Calvin, Andre, and Chad (who went by Ochocinco at the time)—to a combined three catches for 31 yards on nine targets. That supernatural disruption is why he was named first-team All-Pro four times, including each year from 2009 to 2011. Revis never posted high interception totals (29 in his career, which would be the lowest ever for a Hall of Fame cornerback in the Super Bowl era), but even that is a mark in his favor: quarterbacks often avoided his side of the field altogether. Revis kept a world-record pace while swimming upstream against the passing era the league was trending toward.
At his peak, he may have been the most dominant Jet of all time, and he also showed everyone how to roll in the green. Before his rookie year, he held out for more money and got it. In 2010, he once again held out for more, this time for an unheard-of $16 million annually, and once again, the Jets gave it to him. Revis then tore his ACL in Week 3 against the Dolphins in 2012. After the season, the Jets traded Revis to the Buccaneers, who gave him a six-year, $96 million contract. The Bucs replaced head coach Greg Schiano the next offseason with the Cover 2–oriented Lovie Smith, and the Bucs cut Revis, believing he wouldn’t be worth $16 million annually in that scheme. Revis then waltzed over to the Patriots, with whom he signed a one-year, $12 million deal, made first-team All-Pro, and won Super Bowl XLIX against Seattle. Once again a free agent, Revis returned to the Jets, earning a $33 million payday and a chance to smooth over any hard feelings with Gang Green after he’d just won a ring with New York’s biggest rival. He made the Pro Bowl in 2015 with the Jets before his play began to slip.
His Chiefs tenure was the lone blip on his otherwise stellar career. An extremely washed Revis went to Kansas City in 2017, and he seemed way too old for this shit there. The final highlight of his career is batting a pass back to Marcus Mariota, who caught it and leaped for a touchdown to beat the Chiefs in the playoffs.
But that Chiefs season will be forgotten, and won’t hurt Revis’s legacy as one of the best players we’ve seen this century, the forerunner for modern players trying to maximize their earnings, and one of the few defenders whose island could withstand the NFL’s passing wave.