Not that there was ever a doubt in my mind that Darrelle Revis was destined to be an NFL superstar, but it’s amazing how quickly the former Aliquippa and Pitt cornerback has become the game’s best player at his position.
Consider: Revis is only six years removed from high school.
With the New York Jets in today’s AFC Championship Game, Revis was the focus of a Sunday story about how his ability to shut down the NFL’s elite receivers has earned his coverage the nickname of Revis Island.
A few items that didn’t make it into the story:
- Revis was diplomatic about finishing second to Green Bay cornerback Charles Woodson in NFL Defensive Player of the Year voting.“I don’t know. That was a tough decision this year,” Revis said. “The votes were 28-14. Charles Woodson had a great year, too. I voted for him, so I’m a fan of his. It’s an award that you don’t know if you’re going to get it or not coming into the season. I didn’t have that on my list of goals.
“There’s some awards that, as you go through the course of the year, just can happen. I’m up for this award and I’m like, ‘Defensive Player of the Year? Yeah, right.’ Usually it was a linebacker or a defensive end (who wins). Now they’re saying one of the top two and I’m like, ‘I guess. I don’t know.’ I didn’t get it. Wish I would have but it didn’t happen like that, but you can’t get down about it because you never know.”
- Revis has become friendly with NFL Network analyst Deion Sanders, one of the game’s greatest cover corners. Sanders is dismissive of that term, by the way. On a conference call, he clarified that a cornerback’s job is to cover and compared it to calling Peyton Manning a “throwing quarterback.”
Sanders regularly text-messages Revis with advice.
“Me and Deion got a great relationship,” Revis said. “It means a lot to me. Last week, he came here and interviewed me one-on-one. That was my first time meeting him. As soon as I met him, I felt like a little kid again. We started laughing and stuff and got to know each other more in person.
“I appreciate it. There’s some things you work hard for, but you think you would never meet these people or reach what they did. You just enjoy it and have fun with it.”
- Speaking of Manning, it’s funny to hear a guy you covered in high school and college speak so casually about one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the game. That’s life in the NFL. Revis is proven that not only does he belong, but that he’s become a student of the game.
Consider what Revis said about Manning’s ability to find receivers.
“Peyton is great at that,” Revis said. “He has good awareness, has good eyes and good vision on the field. He knows most of the time where his guys are going to be at. You see it week in and week out, he’s throwing balls before guys break. He’s putting balls where defenders can’t find the ball. It’s something you tip your hat off to a guy like that and respect his skills.”
- In the department of disrespect, former Pitt teammate and Colts linebacker Clint Session fired the first salvo of the AFC Championship Game earlier this week and took a not-so-subtle shot at Revis.
“I’m real comfortable in our guy over there, no disrespect to Darrelle,” Session told the New York Daily News. “Reggie Wayne, he’s a guy who’s proven. Revis is still a young guy learning. It’s going to take Reggie to put some of his veteran moves on him and school him a little bit.”
Wayne had three catches for 33 yards before the Colts pulled Manning and most of the starters early in the third quarter of a Week 16 loss to the Jets.
- If you’re wondering how Aliquippa produces so many talented cornerbacks – recent NFL draft picks range from Revis to Josh Lay to Charles Fisher to Ty Law – there’s a secret to the Quips’ success.
Not only does Aliquippa have a ton of talented athletes, but they are taught the same techniques in pee-wee football as they are at the high school level. And the Quips’ high school staff includes former Division-I players Pete Short (Pitt) and Greg Gill (Northwestern).
And Law took Revis under his wing when the latter was still in high school, teaching him advanced techniques to prepare him for the college and pros.
“The good thing about where I grew up at is, even at a young age, playing Pop Warner, we were taught the same things the high school (team) was taught,” Revis said, “and I think that’s why our high school is always so successful, going to playoffs and state championships.
“I’ve got to tip my hat off to the coaching staff we have there. We’ve got a couple guys who played a couple years in the league or played Division I ball, so the techniques we’re learning are great. Ty Law learned the same techniques, too. That’s what made him an All-American coming out of high school and going to Michigan and to the NFL. When I got to college, that’s when me and Ty’s relationship started building. He started telling me NFL techniques and things I needed to focus on in college, which was great.”