After 11 seasons, seven Pro Bowls and one Super Bowl ring, Revis Island is officially off the map. Darrelle Revis announced his retirement from the NFL on Wednesday. The now-former cornerback hasn't revealed what's next in store for him just yet but enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame seems an eventual certainty.
Revis was among the top cornerbacks of his generation, but does he deserve to make it into the Hall on his first ballot? Of the 26 defensive backs enshrined in Canton, eight were voted in on their first ballot (Deion Sanders was the most recent one in 2011).
ESPN insiders, including two who will have a vote, give their take on Revis' case to make it in his first year of eligibility.
Jeff Legwold, ESPN Broncos reporter and member of HOF selection committee. I'm always troubled by the "first ballot" discussion when it comes to the Hall of Fame because I believe a gold coat is a gold coat. The honor isn't diminished if a player's career wasn't fully appreciated when his name first appeared on the ballot. In short, players like Rayfield Wright and Floyd Little, who each waited decades to be enshrined, are every bit the Hall of Famers Joe Montana and John Elway are.
That said, the most powerful arguments for those finalists selected in their first year of eligibility always come from former teammates and opponents. And Revis, in my initial discussions with people around the league in recent seasons, will have all of the support he needs from both. He was either considered the best or among the best at his position over an extended period of time. He was a player who impacted games and game plans and consistently did his best work against the best opponents. His former teammates consistently laud his work ethic in practice at a position where it is difficult to maintain physical dominance for multiple seasons.
Revis had just 29 career interceptions, and never more than six in a season, but that's at least partially due to quarterbacks being so conditioned to avoid him at almost any cost. Revis has the ultimate respect of former teammates, former opponents and passes the eye test in how he played the game. He certainly will have strong support in his first year of eligibility at a time when the Board of Selectors, as a whole, has increasingly given a nod to first-year candidates. There will be three enshrinees in the Class of 2018 alone who were selected in their first year of eligibility -- Ray Lewis, Brian Urlacher and Randy Moss.
Matt Bowen, NFL writer and former NFL safety. With only 26 total defensive backs in the Hall of Fame, jumping in on the first ballot could be a challenge for Revis. However, he played at a level during his prime years that truly set the bar for the position. This is a guy who essentially erased half of the field with clinic room technique, footwork and the route recognition to suffocate wide receivers in coverage. Lock-down stuff. And with 29 career interceptions, to pair with his seven Pro Bowl nominations, Revis belongs in the discussion with the premier corners in NFL history. You want the best in Canton? Then get Revis ready for a gold jacket.
Mike Reiss, ESPN Patriots reporter. When assessing a player's chances to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, it essentially comes down to two things: Who the player is, and what is his competition that year? That's the view of Gary Myers, the former longtime New York Daily News columnist who chronicled the finest years of Revis' career with the Jets and has been a longtime Hall voter. I concur with Myers, and when I look at the Class of 2023, I don't see any major roadblocks that should impede Revis' path. Myers has covered the NFL since 1978, and he said there was a stretch of time watching Revis that he viewed him as good of a cover corner as he's ever seen, right there alongside Deion Sanders (and Revis was more physical and a better tackler than Sanders, too). Revis' 2010 wild-card-round performance, in which he shadowed Reggie Wayne and held him to one catch for 1 yard, was perhaps best reflective of his dominance in that stretch of time. Some might ask the question if Revis' body of work is long enough to warrant first-ballot consideration, or perhaps will be swayed by his less-than-stellar play in his final seasons. Not me. He was a transcendent player, and thus, more than worthy of first-ballot entry.
Mike Sando, senior NFL writer and member of HOF selection committee. No one asked whether Jerry Rice or Brett Favre would be first-ballot selections because there was no doubt. We're being asked to evaluate Revis' chances because there is some doubt.
All would agree that Revis was among the very best corners of his era. Seven Pro Bowls and four first-team All-Pro selections put him on a short list of corners with those types of accolades. He's well down the list for interceptions -- not just historically, but during his own playing career. That is something to at least discuss when the time comes. But he certainly will be a strong candidate for Canton.
Only five modern-era candidates earn enshrinement in a given year, which is the No. 1 reason great players miss the cut every year. Dwight Freeney, Jason Witten and Joe Thomas will also be first-time candidates when Revis becomes eligible, as will Kam Chancellor, who deserves consideration now that other guys with injury-shortened careers have made it in. There will be other candidates who have waited their turn and could be poised for enshrinement at that time. That makes it tough to say for sure whether Revis will skate through on the first ballot.
Aaron Schatz, editor-in-chief of Football Outsiders. I would definitely vote Revis in as a first-ballot Hall of Famer, as the best cornerback of this current century. He's going to be the first Hall of Fame corner whose entire career has been charted by advanced stats companies. Those advanced charting stats tend to be very inconsistent from year to year, but not for Revis. In six full seasons (2009-2011, 2013-2015), Revis ranked in the top dozen for success rate five times, and the other year he was 22nd. He ranked in the top dozen for adjusted yards per pass five times, and the other year he was 25th. OK, you might say, "top dozen, that's not impressive," but trust me, given how inconsistent cornerback charting stats are, it's absurdly impressive. Even more impressive is early on, before he really became Revis Island, the way he baited quarterbacks into throwing at him. In that amazing 2009 season, Revis was No. 1 in success rate, No. 1 in adjusted yards per pass, and No. 3 in YAC allowed after completions. Yet he also had the sixth-highest rate of team targets in the league! Quarterbacks just spent the season throwing into a black hole.