Revis best ever? Sorry, Brandon, but time for a history lesson


82_SD_Blount_6

(Mike Haynes photo courtesy of the Oakland Raiders)
(Mel Blount photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Steelers)

By Clark Judge

Talk of Fame Network

Brandon Marshall has said a lot of things since joining the New York Jets, but nothing rattled me more than what he threw out there this summer about his new teammate, Darrelle Revis. Maybe you remember it. It was about three weeks ago when Marshall told reporters that Revis was the best cornerback in the game.

And not just now.

“Ever,” said Marshall.

OK, it’s a free country, and Marshall’s entitled to an opinion. But when you step out on a ledge and throw out something that bold … something that provocative … something that downright outrageous … it deserves a response. And here’s mine.

Nope. Not even close.

Look, Revis is one heckuva cornerback and was the missing element that helped launch the New England Patriots to their fourth Super Bowl victory. But the best ever? I don’t even know if he’s the best cornerback in today’s game.

That’s not to denigrate the guy. As I said, he’s good. Damned good. And he’s one of the best out there. But is he better than, say, Richard Sherman or Patrick Peterson? I don’t know. But that’s not the point. This is: Marshall said Revis is the best ever, which puts him above an elite group with more accolades and Super Bowl rings than Darrelle Revis.

So let’s start the roll call.

Is he better than Mike Haynes? No. How about Deion Sanders? Uh-uh. Dick “Night Train” Lane? Please. And we’re just getting started, folks. There are cornerbacks galore in the Pro Football Hall of Fame whom I’d take over Revis in a heartbeat, and others who’re aren’t in whom I’d choose, too – like Champ Bailey, Charles Woodson and Lester Hayes.

“Lester’s a guy who deserves to be in the Hall of Fame,” said Haynes.

LesterHayes

(Lester Hayes photo courtesy of the Oakland Raiders)

OK, but let’s stay with Canton. I mentioned Haynes. He could play the run as well as the pass, and he was stellar in coverage. He was also a member of the NFL’s 75th anniversary team. Sanders might have been the best cover corner I’ve seen. Yeah, I know, he looked more like a matador when it came to tackling, but he was the definition of a shutdown cornerback. And “Night Train” Lane? The guy had an NFL-record 14 interceptions as a rookie … and that was in 12 games. Plus, he could play the run. In fact, he was such a brutal hitter that assistant Aldo Forte once said that Lane hit quarterback Y.A. Tittle so hard in a 1962 game he “knocked plays out of his head.”

Maybe that’s why he was named the best cornerback in the NFL’s first 50 years and is a member of the league’s 75th anniversary team.

Courtesy of Detroit Lions
(“Night Train” Lane photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

But let’s keep the line moving. How about Pittsburgh’s Mel Blount? He was one of the cornerstones of the Steel Curtain defense that in 1976 allowed 28 points over its last nine games – all victories. You heard me: 28 points, an astonishing run that included five shutouts. Or what about the 49ers’ Jimmy Johnson? He was one of the first of the shutdown corners, with size, speed and a reputation that kept quarterbacks from throwing in his direction.

Then there’s Rod Woodson … and Herb Adderley … and Willie Brown. Woodson’s a member of the 75th anniversary team. Adderley locked down opponents when he played on a Packers’ team that won five championships in seven years. And Brown? We spoke to Hall-0f-Fame wide receiver Lance Alworth this week on the Talk of Fame broadcast, and when we asked which defensive back was the toughest for him to solve he didn’t hesitate.

“Willie Brown,” he said.

I think you get the idea. We live in an era where the latest is the greatest; where, if there’s no roll of ESPN video on a guy, he might as well not exist. Except the latest is not the greatest here, and Brandon Marshall should know better. Darrelle Revis is a terrific player and an invaluable asset, but he’s not the best cornerback that played this game … not by a wide margin.

“I don’t know Brandon well enough and I don’t know how much research Brandon has put into that statement,” said Haynes. “Plus, I don’t want to say anything that is later going to make him look bad or make me look bad because I didn’t do my homework. But he must play against him a lot, and he must feel that way … and so that’s what happens. If you have a guy like (Marshall) who is super talented, and he can’t do a great job against one guy, as far as he’s concerned he’s the best ever.”

That’s great. But as far as I’m concerned, Brandon Marshall should catch up on his history. Maybe then he’d understand what we’re talking about.

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25 Comments

  1. JD
    August 27, 2015
    Reply

    As a big Revis fan I can’t even say he’s the best CB ever but he certainly up there with the names you’ve listed as the best. You lost some credibility with mentioning Patrick Peterson though. No way is he on the level of Revis and Sherman but that’s for another time.

    As for Revis being the best, hard to put him past Sanders and Nighttrain but it can be argued he’s close to the level of the rest. People never like to push the new generation past the all time greats but with the new rule changes for CB’s. What guys like Revis and Sherman are doing in the “new” NFL is spectacular. You can’t even lay a hand on WR’s. Those HOF CB’s had it way easier. When it’s all said and done what Revis did in his prime in NY under Rex for those few years were special. He’ll wind up being a HOF CB when it’s all said and done. Even the Champ Bailey’s and Charles Woodson’s didn’t have to deal with all the new illegal contact stuff. I think you’re underselling what Revis and Sherman are doing in this new generation.

    • August 27, 2015
      Reply

      Maybe, but people have been underselling guys like Mike Haynes, Night Train, Jimmy Johnson, Mel Blount, Willie Brown and Rod Woodson for years. Johnson was a shutdown corner. Haynes might be the best CB I’ve seen in the modern era. Certainly was the most complete. And, yes, I will put Peterson in the conversation. When he’s not playing hurt he’s brutal to solve.

  2. Rasputin
    August 27, 2015
    Reply

    Agreed. His comment just shows ignorance and a lack of respect for the history of the game. I’d mention Mel Renfro too as someone I’d take over Revis – world class track speed (helped set a relay world record while at college), SB champion, Cowboys franchise leader in career interceptions, best KO returner in franchise history, and physical enough that some of his 10 consecutive Pro Bowls came at safety.

    • August 28, 2015
      Reply

      I didn’t mention Darrell Green, either. People tell me it’s harder to play the position today. No, it’s not. It’s just different. Guys then had to have size because they had to play the pass AND the run. Today, they have to play the pass. So it’s an age of cover corners.

      • jason
        August 28, 2015
        Reply

        you are clueless, no cornerback has ever had a better year than Revis did with the Jets the first time, shut down every top receiver, how dare you bring up dick lane or dick head, revis tackles, he lines up everywhere and he literally removes the best weapon from the other team, other than playing baseball deion sanders isn’t better than him at anything. Clark, you are normally on the money, but this was wayyy off,

        • Rasputin
          August 28, 2015
          Reply

          Did you ever watch Deion play?
          He’s the only CB I’ve ever seen who routinely took an entire side of the field away from the offensive passing attack by himself. Revis is no Deion Sanders.

          • August 28, 2015

            I covered Deion in SF. Bears never threw his way in 1994 playoff game. Shut down one half of field.

        • August 28, 2015
          Reply

          And what did Deion do? And what did Haynes do? Woodson? Look, Revis terrific, but to say he’s best of all time? Please. I was watching game when corners had to defend run AND pass. I love watching Revis play, but if you line up Revis with Deion and Haynes I’m taking him third.

  3. Realist
    August 28, 2015
    Reply

    “Revis is one heckuva cornerback and was the missing element that helped launch the New England Patriots to their fourth Super Bowl victory.”

    Actually, cheating did that (as with their other 3 “victories”), not Revis. There, fixed that for you.

    • August 28, 2015
      Reply

      Knew there was a reason Patriots were so successful.

  4. ekill
    August 28, 2015
    Reply

    So of the corners that you mentioned…which of them play on an island 90% of the time, covering the number 1 WR game without safety help over the top? DOn’t you dare say Sherman or Peterson. THATs what makes Revis so great. He’s the best shutdown corner of all time. “No. Not even close” Really? Your entitled to your opinion but to say its not even close its just ridiculous.

    • August 28, 2015
      Reply

      That’s your opinon … and, as you said, you’re entitled to it. But completely different game. Corners then were bigger because they had to play pass AND run. The next tackle Deion makes will be the first one. Yet he was superb in coverage. Best shutdown corner of all time? Nope. Give me Deion. Most complete? Haynes was best I saw. Woodson close. People who should know tell me Lane and Johnson were nightmares. Guaranteed, Marshall hasn’t heard of half of guys I mentioned.

  5. coach tj troup
    August 28, 2015
    Reply

    the above mentioned corners are the best ever. there was a difference between playing left and right corner before the hash mark change….yet the skills needed are still the same. the only corner not mentioned who can join this conversation is albert lewis……he was just outstanding in all facets of corner play.

    • August 28, 2015
      Reply

      Rick Gosselin loves the guy. Thinks he should be in Hall.

  6. Steve
    August 28, 2015
    Reply

    Anyone who says that ANY of Revis’s seasons was the best ever by a CB is ignorant. Look up Lester Hayes 1980. Unparalleled.

    • August 30, 2015
      Reply

      Mike Haynes said The Judge should be in the Hall. Pete Carroll seconded that.

  7. Wayne
    August 28, 2015
    Reply

    Players today are bigger and faster now than in the 60’s, 70’s, heck even the 80’s. Your debate is based on opinion which is fine but statistically you will find NO ONE EVER has come close to Revis’s 09 season. Deion’s 94 season is close but still might not be better than Revis’s 10 season. Could Lane, Hayes, Haynes, Adderly, Blount, and Brown even cover Megatron,Moss,Marshall, Fitzgerald, Johnson, T.O., Wayne, OchoCinco. Revis has shut everyone of these guys down. So show me a stat that anyone you mentioned shut down GREAT receivers. You can’t.

  8. Michael
    August 29, 2015
    Reply

    The fact that you “don’t know” if Revis is better than Richard Sherman or Patrick Peterson says it all

  9. dan8945
    August 29, 2015
    Reply

    Revis is the best ever, deion never tackled and got lit up routinely by andre rison. Plus the 49ers doubled the number 1 wrs and deion was man on a number two. Prime was great but what revis does with the rule changes is crazy.

  10. Steve
    August 29, 2015
    Reply

    As for tackling, Lester Hayes was a college LB and then safety at one time; he could (and did) take down Earl Campbell one on one on more than one occasion. I don’t like Revis’s chances in that matchup.

    Furthermore, not only did he have a staggering 13 picks in 1980; he also had 5 more in the postseason (with a pick six) for a total of 18! That season ended with a Super Bowl championship due largely to Hayes’s Defensive Player of the Year performance. Revis is a damn good player but has never approached that level of playmaking (few have) and certainly didn’t raise his D to a championship level as Hayes did.

    And before anyone references stickum I’ll point out that Hayes had three more postseason picks after ’80, including two (with another pick six) in ’83 when he won his second ring with the Raiders. Great players make big plays in big games, and Hayes epitomized that in a way that Revis cannot match, as great as he is.

  11. Rasputin
    August 30, 2015
    Reply

    Deion routinely shut down great WRs and was probably the NFL’s last true shut down cornerback. In his prime Sanders was so dominant that other teams stopped challenging him because he had punished them so frequently. Revis is great but teams aren’t afraid of him and routinely throw his way, sometimes with success.

    And I saw Deion make plenty of hard tackles. It wasn’t his strong suit, but sometimes the hyperbole about him not tackling gets carried away and the people who repeat it exaggerate further.

    • August 30, 2015
      Reply

      Should have seen Haynes, Blount, Lester, Adderley. Great at covering run AND pass.

  12. Rich Quodomine
    September 1, 2015
    Reply

    Can I throw in a name not discussed, because he’s more famous as a safety: Ronnie Lott? For the first 6 years of his great career, he was a physical corner who also had 23 INTs before moving to safety. I would rank, since 1985 (after Lott moved to S), the best CB as Woodson, then Sanders, then Green, then Revis. I’ll rank Revis as the best of right now – his only weakness are short in-routes – which is why a player like Stevie Johnson had success against him. Revis is a master of flipping hips, field vision and has underrated hands. Sanders and Green faster with better closing speed, Woodson was simply the best DB I ever saw play. Revis is an excellent, HoF player, but not best of all time, IMO.

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