Darrelle Revis joins the New England Patriots at a time when both parties are seeking to put a new shine on their once-more-proud reparations. The Pats won three Super Bowls in four years, but that was nearly a decade ago. Revis was known as the best cornerback in football when he was with the division rival Jets, and he probably still is, but somewhere along the way he became known at least as much for his never ending contract demands as for what he offered on the field. After a trade to Tampa which only lasted a year, Revis is now latching onto a team gives him an opportunity to resume playing in front of national television audiences and a legitimate shot at a championship ring. But with his deal essentially for just one year, it’s not clear where his legacy is headed.
The knock on Revis is that he’s high maintenance, makes the game too much about himself, and is now moving from team to team like a hires mercenary. But Deion Sanders, also guilty of all of the above, is remembered as the greatest of all time at his position. What’s the difference between the two? This far, it’s that Sanders played an integral role in championship teams along the way. Having played only for the middling Jets and the irrelevant Bucs, Revis doesn’t yet have that – which may inform why he chose the Patriots this week over thirty-one other teams, and why he opted for a short term deal.
If Revis and the Pats win the Super Bowl this year, his legacy as a champion is assured, and with his technically two year contract almost assured to end after one year, he can then move on an seek bigger money from a weaker team if he wants. Or if he fails to win a ring and wants to keep trying, he can commit to another year in New England for whatever money Bill Belichick is willing to offer at that point.
If Revis does move on in 2015 without a ring, he’ll be heading to his fourth NFL team at that point. Can any player attain a legacy as an all time great while also having been essentially a super high priced journeyman? History says not without that Super Bowl ring.