Countdown to 2023 Enshrinement: Darrelle Revis

Enshrinement Published on : 7/30/2023
By Evan Rogers
Pro Football Hall of Fame

(Fifth in a series of features on the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2023)

DARRELLE REVIS remembers the moment his nickname was born.

During his second season with the New York Jets, members of the media surrounded Revis, an upstart cornerback, during a postgame interview. One presented a question regarding his abilities to thrive in one-on-one coverage. 

“It was in the locker room with a bunch of reporters and they asked, ‘How do you feel out there being on an island?’” Revis recalled. “I (responded), ‘It feels like Revis Island.’”

Before taking his talents to the professional ranks, Revis shined at Aliquippa (Pa.) High School. Success and athletics were always in his bloodline, with Revis’ mother, Diana Askew, starring in track and field in high school and his uncle, Sean Gilbert, enjoying a 10-year NFL career after being selected third overall in the 1992 NFL Draft.

Revis showcased his abilities as a multi-sport athlete at Aliquippa, participating in track, basketball and football. On the hardwood, Revis led the Quips in scoring, averaging more than 25 points per game as a senior. A three-star prospect in football according to 247Sports, Revis earned offers from top programs, including Pittsburgh and Penn State.

During his senior year at Aliquippa, Revis earned Player of the Year honors from multiple local media outlets, namely the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 

“He had his own dreams and aspirations,” Askew said. “He was a very motivated, very driven, very competitive guy. It was his drive and desire to compete.”

In his final high school game, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association state title, Revis paved the way for Aliquippa’s second championship. He accounted for all five of the Quips’ touchdowns — three rushing scores and a pair on TDs on special teams – in a 32-27 victory.

After a storied career for his hometown school, Revis opted to stay in-state and took his talents to the University of Pittsburgh. The choice to commit with the Panthers came down to a simple wish: He wanted his family to enjoy easy access to watch his games. 

At Pittsburgh, Revis quickly became one of the best defensive backs in the country. In his first year, he recorded a team-high 12 pass deflections and added two interceptions. He earned first-team freshman All-American status that season.

Over his final two collegiate seasons, Revis made a name for himself nationally. A lockdown coverage corner, he earned first-team All-Big East honors his sophomore and junior years and was a candidate for the Jim Thorpe Award and Bronko Nagurski Trophy his final collegiate season.

“Darrelle (Revis) is probably one of the best tackling corners I’ve ever coached,” former Pittsburgh head coach Dave Wannstedt said. “He’s the whole deal, the whole package.

“Darrelle returns punts and could have returned kickoffs. He blocked field goals; he blocked punts. That’s not just athletic ability. You’ve got to have great hand-eye coordination to do that … You have to have good hands, and Darrelle has great hands, combined with quickness, toughness and ball skills.”

Following his junior year, Revis opted to forgo his final season of collegiate eligibility and entered the 2007 NFL Draft. With the 14th overall pick, the New York Jets made him only the second defensive back from Pittsburgh chosen in the first round.

During his first stint with the Jets, Revis was selected to four Pro Bowls and earned All-Pro honors three times. His ability to shut down some of the top receivers in single coverage helped Revis, or “Revis Island,” quickly make a name for himself across the NFL.

After spending his first six seasons with the Jets, Revis was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2013. One year later, he would join the New England Patriots, where he would earn first-team All-Pro honors and help New England win Super Bowl XLIX.

“(Revis is) a supremely talented player,” former Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said. “He's got such a great skill set and knowledge of the game … one of the best corners to ever play the game.”

Revis officially trademarked “Revis Island” in 2013, owning the rights to the title on T-shirts, hats, sweatpants and in other uses. Even before he fully owned the nickname, he fully had cemented himself as one of the best cornerbacks in league history.

“The only way to handle pressure is to apply it,” Revis said. “I just have a knack for having a competitive nature and not settling.”

Evan Rogers is a student at the University of North Carolina and is an intern this summer at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

More of this series