In this corner, hailing from Aliquippa, Penn., standing at 5-11 weighing in at 198 pounds is the seven-time Pro Bowler, Super Bowl-winning, but now aging in front of our eyes — Darrelle Revis.
In the other corner is the fearful mythos that symbolizes the end of time for many athletes — Father Time.
We all knew this day would come, but it came sooner than expected. Once upon a time, Revis was one of the best cover men that the NFL had ever seen. He was so good, he was often compared to Deion Sanders. While he wasn’t as flashy, exciting or explosive as “Prime Time,” he was as good as it gets. Comparing him to other all-time great cornerbacks, he lacked the speed and athleticism of Darrell Green, Champ Bailey and Rod Woodson, and he wasn’t a ball hawk like Charles Woodson, but he was perhaps more complete than all of them.
While he may differ from the aforementioned cornerbacks, he was someone who was a tactician in man-to-man coverage. He spent time shadowing opposing teams’ top wide receivers, and his method to covering wide receivers was similar to a prize fighter. His hand-to-hand combat was imposing in bump-and-run coverage.
His strength at the point of the attack was menacing, and his technique was textbook. On Sundays and Mondays, he put fear into opposing offenses and fan bases. Teams eluded Revis as if he was Uncle Sam during tax season. Wherever No. 24 was placed on the field, quarterbacks turned the other cheek.
In 2009, he had a season to remember as he won the AFC Defensive Player of the Year. He didn’t allow over 58 yards in a single game. While that may not seem like much, going against Pro Bowl wide receivers Chad Johnson, Randy Moss, Reggie Wayne, Terrell Owens, Andre Johnson and Roddy White is a testament to how great former Pitt Panther was.
During the peak of Revis’ (likely) Hall of Fame career, Revis Island was a dwelling where wide receivers were left stranded. The Island was a touchdown-free zone that made guests never want travel there again.
Fast-forwarding to 2016, the reign of Revis Island is no more. He’s only 31 years old, but in football years he’s close to a senior citizen. From a fan’s prospective it’s painful to watch. Seeing a once superhero talent morph into an “Average Joe” is dejecting. But that is what happens when Father Time hits you with body shots.
At this conjuncture, the once-deserted island has emerged as a travel destination full of gratification. A number of tourists who take part in carousing the island make one wonder if there is coupon for 75 percent off on Groupon.
Like many of our favorite athletes, it happens without warning. Since the start of the NFL season, wide receivers have owned Revis. Beginning in Week 1, he gave up 12 receptions, 180 yards and a touchdown to A.J. Green. Since then, the trickle-down effect has spread toward other wide receivers in the NFL. From Terrelle Pryor, A.J. Green and Marquise Goodwin to a host of others, wide receivers continue to book trips to Revis’ domain.
Unlike his best season in 2009, his production has faltered. Gone is the ability to shut down one half of the field. In a rare occurrence with professional athletes, Revis’ spirit is tainted. In a recent interview with New York Daily News, he jokingly stated that he was old. After admitting that he is getting up in age, he elaborated on why his play is declining.
“You have bumps in the road. Are you going to see a one catch for one-yard game? Probably not. I was 23, 24 years old then,” he said, referring to holding Reggie Wayne of the Colts to one catch for one yard in the Jets’ 2010 Wild Card victory. “That’s just not where it’s at. Can I execute better and do things better? That’s going to come. That’s definitely going to come down the road.”
Cornerbacks are confident in their abilities, but for the first time in his brilliant career, Revis sounds like a man searching for an answer. Through this season, he has yet to snag an interception, and he’s often on the wrong end of big plays. Not that Revis was ever a ball hawk (he has 28 interceptions for his career), but notching a turnover or two could reassure him that he can still make plays.
In his 10-year career, he has shown the ability to play in different areas of the field. Now is the time where he and the Jets need to consider a move to safety. While it’s a tough pill for him to swallow to know that he can’t cover anymore, he can use his high football IQ at the safety position.
Charles Woodson, Rod Woodson, Antrel Rolle and Ronde Barber are just a few who transitioned from cornerback to safety, and it helped extend their careers.
Revis can follow the same blueprint to give himself a chance to regain relevancy. If not, he’ll continue to spend time on the football field being a hindrance to himself and the team.
As competitive as Revis is, it should motivate him to silence critics, but it’s easier said than done. With the daunting task of defeating the anthropomorphic depiction of time, the former All-Pro needs to find answers before his lofty price tag has him on a one-way ticket out of the Big Apple.
In the case of the former stakeholder in one of the most feared islands, we’re reminded that Father Time is unbeatable. Although it’s been forthcoming for some time, it’s still hard to get used to.
For Revis’ sake, hopefully he takes a slice of humble pie and makes the move to safety before his island gets washed away, and not because of climate change.
Columbus, Ohio born. Ron is a first-ballot healthy hairline hall of famer. He spent the summer of ‘08 eating calamari pasta because of OJ Da Juiceman. He also loves to write about sports while listening to Sada Baby. Follow him on Twitter @Ron_Hamp
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