Eric Mangini gave the New York Jets their core four, similar to how the Yankees had them. In a lot of ways, and in never-really-stated ways, Mangini is the architect for a Jets era that included two winning seasons under him and two AFC Title Game appearances under former Head Coach Rex Ryan. That run of sustained success, the most this franchise has ever seen, began with Mangini’s Core Four.
There was the Hitman David Harris, the Silent Assassin D’Brickashaw Ferguson, and the All-Pro Nick Mangold. The fourth was a cornerback from the University of Pittsburgh, who some scours deemed hadn’t played any real competition (the best WR he covered while at Pitt was Louisville’s Mario Urrutia), and others said he reminded them of Patriots great Ty Law. Darrelle Revis, now that it is over, turned out to be the best of them all. A mercenary out of the state of Pennsylvania, Mike Tannenbaum traded up in round one to get the guy who would go on to become the greatest corner to ever play the game.
Celebrated for his business acumen, displayed from his very first holdout right out of the gate, Regis’s legacy is not that complicated to write. He understood from the beginning, thanks to the guidance of his associates, that the only number that really mattered for football players was the guaranteed salary. Everything else, from the years tacked on to the total value, was secondary. When he held out as a rookie, people scoffed at a young player trying to circumvent the system by refusing to sign for a penny less than what he was worth.
The holdouts may have been contentious between Revis and the Jets, but what came from it was an understanding amongst players that it was important to get all you could when you could because teams would not hesitate to cut bait. This would be a lesson that Revis would learn after tearing his ACL, and subsequently reminding people that he would not take a penny less than what he believed he was worth. Nnamdi Asomugha got $16M per? Revis wanted $16.1M. Richard Sherman got $40M guaranteed? Revis wanted $48M through his first 3 years of a new deal a year later. Revis, in a lot of ways, shepherded a new era into football for defensive players: you can get paid like the Quarterbacks, he seemed to be saying with every new extension, but you also need to have leverage.
That leverage came in the form of his All-Pro play, which really came from day one. Mangini, who played a part in running Bill Belicheck’s defense in New England, deployed Revis just like Bill would years later: in a mix of zone and man coverage, covering one side as oppose to one receiver. Revis’s tackling acumen was on display from week one and, while he struggled a bit early on his rookie year, the talent was absolutely apparent from week one. He held Wes Welker to six catches in his first game, and only allowed three touchdowns the entire year. His second year under Mangini, he again primarily played one side and teams began going away from that exact side and picking on Jets cornerback Dwight Lowery. Revis Island wasn’t a thing just yet, but it seemed that coaches were starting to realize that the kid was for real.
Enter Rex Ryan, who decided to forego Mangini’s philosophy and have Revis track every number one wide receiver the team faced. Ryan, an underrated defensive mind whose legacy has been somewhat tarnished by his ego, decided that his best player should remove the other team’s best player. What a novel concept, right? That year, Revis allowed only one TD (a go route by Ted Ginn), and the Jets defense allowed eight passing touchdowns altogether.
By comparison, 2009 Defensive Player of the Year Charles Woodson’s Packers defense gave up eight touchdowns versus the Arizona Cardinals. Revis held Andre Johnson, Randy Moss, Chad OchoCinco, Reggie Wayne, and Vincent Jackson amongst others to season lows in catches. He completely took away one side of the field in a way cornerbacks didn’t really do. We were all witnesses, as he almost singlehandedly carried the Jets to a Super Bowl. After what some consider the greatest cornerback season ever, Revis followed that up with an injury-plagued season that culminated with him holding Reggie Wayne to one catch for minus one yard in the playoffs. Revis had held out leading up to the season, and the Jets once again gave him a new deal. On the field and off it, Revis had no equal.
He would go on to add another Pro Bowl and All-Pro selection to his resume the next year, but the following year tore his ACL in week 3. He was sent to Tampa Bay shortly after, for the pick that would become Sheldon Richardson, where he put together another Revis-like year. For 2007-2014, Revis was arguably the best cornerback in football. The only thing missing was a title.
Revis would get that in New England, with the Patriots utilizing him much like Mangini did in his first two years. During the AFC Playoffs with New England, Revis allowed one catch. One! While it would sting for some Jets fans to see Revis win a Super Bowl with the Patriots, I remember thinking that it made sense because there wasn’t anything else for Revis to do at that point, except win. Win he did, and then he came back to the Jets to shepherd in the Todd Bowles era. Revis was, once again, Revis Island (something he wasn’t in New England), and showed that he was still the best corner playing. Five interceptions and nine passes defended, he was the tip of the spear for new coach Todd Bowles. The Jets defense was a top 10 unit again, in part because of 24.
Father Time is undefeated, but for seven years we Jets fans got to say that the best defensive player in football played for us. For a fan base that hasn’t had much to cheer for before Bill Parcells, Revis was their guy. For millennials like myself, where things haven’t been that bad and we’ve had some pretty great memories?
Revis was our guy. At the end of the day though, Revis was his own guy. He was the best, he is the GOAT, and it is fitting that the closest thing to him that we have now (Jalen Ramsey) knows a thing or two about following in the footsteps of a great. The interception on 9/11, making Chad Johnson change his name from OchoCinco, the awkward milky rock, the INT in the playoffs off Vincent Jackson’s leg? Those are all things we Jets fans will remember, but it seems Revis saved his best gift for last. When the Jets traded Revis to the Bucs, they netted a first round pick that netted them Sheldon Richardson, as mentioned above. Sheldon Richardson was traded last year to the Seattle Seahawks for a second round pick and Jermaine Kearse. That extra second rounder that the Jets acquired was used to trade up and acquire Sam Darnold.
Fitting isn’t it, that Revis Island began the same year the Jets traded up to get a USC Quarterback, and Revis Island closes with him delivering what was needed to trade up for another USC Quarterback. Revis wrote his own legacy; he might be second only to LeBron James in terms of exerting player control over a franchise, and we were all witnesses. For the interceptions, All-Pros, Pro Bowls, sacks, tackles, and memories?
We thank you 24. Revis Island officially closed today.