The Pro Football Hall of Fame will formally welcome its Class of 2023 on Saturday. This week, Yahoo Sports is highlighting each member of the nine-man class, leading up to the big ceremony.
There are plenty of ways to argue Darrelle Revis’ standing as one of the greatest cornerbacks ever. He made seven Pro Bowls. He was part of the all-decade team of the 2010s. He won a Super Bowl with the 2014 New England Patriots.
There’s one stat that Revis is the undeniable champion among cornerbacks: $124,211,129 million. That’s Revis’ career earnings, according to Spotrac, most for any cornerback in NFL history through the 2022 season.
Revis was a force on and off the field, and his 11-year NFL career led him to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was one of the league’s premier lockdown cornerbacks, able to take the opponent’s No. 1 receiver out of the game. “Revis Island” wasn’t just a catchy nickname. Many quarterbacks wouldn’t even throw his direction.
Revis had a valuable talent, and he knew what he was worth.
Darrelle Revis was a Jets legend
Revis’ career started with the New York Jets, who picked him out of the University of Pittsburgh with the 14th pick of the 2007 NFL Draft. Revis was an immediate star, and there’s nothing quite like being a big star in New York.
In Revis’ first five seasons he was a Pro Bowler four times and first-team All-Pro three times. His excellence in silencing each opponent’s top receiver allowed his defensive coaches, including Rex Ryan with the Jets, a lot of flexibility in covering the rest of the field. In 2012 Revis tore his ACL and after the season he was traded from the Jets to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a first- and fourth-round draft pick. As a part of the trade Revis signed a $96 million deal with the Buccaneers, making him the NFL’s highest-paid cornerback.
The Buccaneers moved on after just one season, and Revis made a shrewd move when he was cut. He signed a one-year, $12 million deal with the Patriots. He was All-Pro again and won a Super Bowl, which boosted his football legacy.
Then, after a single year as a hired gun with New England, he took his $12 million and Super Bowl ring and signed a deal worth a little more than $70 million to return to the Jets.
Not many players mastered the business side of the game like Revis did.
Revis paved the way
Revis became known as a mercenary but he spoke of his multiple mega-contracts as a way of showing a future generation of players how to play the business side of the game.
“I’m just standing up for what I think is right,” Revis said in a fascinating profile by ESPN’s Mina Kimes in 2015. “I’m a walking billboard for fairness.
“Maximize your worth. As soon as you step foot in the NFL, the window is closing.”
None of that took away from Revis’ greatness on the field. He was an easy pick as a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
“For me, it was just surreal,” Revis told the New York Post of being elected to the Hall of Fame. “I think in your mind a lot of thoughts play back, just all the hard work, the hours you put in, the highs, the lows, the failures, the successes, coming from the neighborhood that you come from, just really persevering through things. … It’s amazing, man. I never thought I would be a Hall of Famer.”
Revis brought a new level of attention to the cornerback position, especially in his time with the Jets. He was famous at a position in which only the absolute elite become superstars.
And Revis made sure he got paid what he was worth.