DARRELLE REVIS, at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, Aug. 5.
Inducted on Aug. 5 with many from Aliquippa in attendance
The Aliquippa legend, the now-Pro Football Hall of Famer, Darrelle Revis, finally came clean as he stood on the Hall of Fame stage on Saturday afternoon, Aug. 5, in Canton, Ohio:
“I just want to start off by saying, basketball was my first love.”
He said what???
“I was nice, now…People back at home from Aliquippa know that I’m a hooper at heart.”
It’s true. Revis once scored 35 points in a basketball game as a senior at Aliquippa, a few days after leading the school to a PIAA high school state championship in football. Revis was so good in basketball that his Quips won back-to-back WPIAL Class AA championships his junior and senior seasons. He was a first-teamer on the Associated Press Pa. Class AA All-State Basketball team.
And for Revis, he did make it to the pros.
But it wasn’t the NBA. It was the NFL.
Revis was a man amongst boys in his high school and college days, starring at the University of Pittsburgh at defensive back and becoming the first pick (14th overall) of the New York Jets in the 2007 NFL Draft.
He was such a standout player at corner in the NFL, he was nicknamed “Revis Island,” because he effectively could take an entire half of a field away from the offense with his defensive skills. He would always take on the opposing team’s top receiver, shutting that receiver down to the point of frustration.
The Jets made it to the AFC Championship Game in back-to-back seasons with Revis at CB, in 2009 and 2010, but they lost both times, including the 2010 game to the Steelers, 24-19, at then-Heinz Field. The Steelers then lost Super Bowl XLV to the Green Bay Packers on Feb. 6, 2011.
“It’s kinda surreal that I’m here today being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” Revis said, following his remark about his love for basketball. “Life is shaped by the choices we make, but there is one thing we cannot choose. Where we come from is chosen for us. No one has control over when they’re born, what family they’re born into or where they start. But these things have a profound impact on every decision we make and who we become. The conditions had to be just right for me to end up here. Every moment, every opportunity perfectly aligned.”
Revis, proudly wearing his gold jacket on the Hall of Fame stage, with thousands in attendance watching, including the entire Aliquippa High School football team, then said: “I’m from Aliquippa, Pennsylvania…for those of you who never heard of Aliquippa, all you need to know are three names: Mike Ditka, Tony Dorsett and Ty Law. My hometown produces legends.”
Revis said he got his love for football from his uncle, Sean Gilbert, a Pitt star defensive tackle, also from Aliquippa. Gilbert became the third overall pick in the 1992 NFL Draft, and played more than a decade in the NFL. He’s now the head coach at a Black college, Livingstone, in North Carolina.
“My uncle would run sprints up the hill, hills we lived near, and I would be waiting at the top,” Revis said. “He was an example of doing the things necessary to give yourself a chance to be great.”
Revis added: “It wasn’t enough to win. I needed to dominate.”
Dominate is what Revis did on the field. Seven-time Pro Bowl selection. Super Bowl champion with the New England Patriots (Super Bowl XLIX, 49). The distinction as the best cornerback in the NFL for a number of years.
As Revis, 38, continued with his speech, he choked up a bit before speaking about his mother, Diana Gilbert. He called her “my first coach.”
Revis continued: “I remember if I wasn’t doing well in the classroom, you would take away the very thing I love, which is playing ball. At the time, I didn’t appreciate you taking ball away but the lesson was to make sure I had the same type of focus in the classroom as I had in sports.”
Revis, with the spotlight on him, on a sunny Saturday afternoon in Canton, Ohio, just 73 miles away from the tough-nosed, tough-minded town of Aliquippa, then said to his mother: “Thank you for always knowing what path I needed to take to make it here to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”