The setting may have been Canton, OH, but for 20 minutes this afternoon, Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium was transformed into several other locations. One was real and not too far away from Canton in Aliquippa, PA, and one existed only in the minds of teammates, opponents — especially opposing No. 1 wideouts — and fans of the Green and White.
"The conditions had to be just right for me to stand up here," Darrelle Revis told the crowd gathered to celebrate his enshrinement along with the Class of 2023 into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. "Every moment, every opportunity perfectly aligned. I'm from Aliquippa, PA, and for those of you that never heard of Aliquippa, all you need to know is three names: Mike Ditka, Tony Dorsett and Ty Law.
"My hometown produces legends."
Ceremony host Chris Berman, a longtime Jets fan himself, also referenced Western Pennsylvania when he said, "There must be something in the water ... and once again, Aliquippa water has been turned into wine."
The most recent legend, that of No. 24, logged single seasons in his storied NFL career with the Buccaneers, Patriots, and Chiefs. But the majority of his career, eight seasons, was spent playing with the team for which his island grew and grew. The Jets.
The numbers are quite familiar by now. Of his 151 career starts, regular and postseason, 114 starts in 114 games were made as a Jet. Twenty-seven of his 32 interceptions came in green and white. All three of his pro touchdowns went up on the board in Jets victories. Of his six Pro Bowls and four first-team All-Pro berths, four and three came when Revis Island was open for business in the New York/New Jersey area.
Revis had thanks for the many people in his life who helped as he elevated his game higher and higher. One Hall of Fame corner was near the top of his list.
"I didn't get the chance to play with this guy named Deion Sanders," Revis said, "but he was the prototype for me. I wanted to play just like him. Deion, you were the roadmap to greatness. Thank you for paving the way."
He also offered kudos to his coaches at all his levels of play and to his family that were behind him from peewee ball forward. And at the top of his family list was the woman he called "my first coach" and whom he chose as his presenter for today's ceremony, his mother, Diana Askew.
"I remember if I wasn't doing well in the classroom, you would take away the very thing I loved, which was playing ball," Revis told his mom. "At the time, I didn't appreciate you taking ball away, but it was to make sure I had the same focus in the classroom as I did in sports. Thank you for always knowing what path I needed to take to make it here to the Pro Football Hall of Fame."
"I knew what I put in him, but I didn't know it was going to come out like that. It was my son out there doing this. He was like a superhero," Askew said in her video presentation. "He is one of the best Jets players of all time, and he continues to be great at everything he touches and puts his hands to."
Revis also had special words for the J-E-T-S — for Rex Ryan, his HC , and Dennis Thurman, his secondary coach, from 2009-12, for his teammates and the organization. And of course for the fans.
"I thank the New York Jets for drafting me in 2007 and letting me play for the best fans in the world," he said, then when a spontaneous chant of "REVIS! ISLAND!" erupted from that section of the stands in the green and white No. 24 jerseys, Revis could only smile and say, "It's like MetLife Stadium in here."
"The pressure was intense, but so was the love," he continued. "For all the boos and cheers, when I was drafted 14th overall, to burning my jersey when I signed with the Patriots, to now being here in Canton, I guess it's safe to say we've been through a lot together. You expected great things out of me, and every single game I accepted the challenge.
"You will always have a place to stay on Revis Island."
He left the crowd with one last telling anecdote, bringing one more locale outside Canton into the discussion. It was about how he would train in Phoenix and on Sundays would make a killer run to the pinnacle of "very dangerous" Camelback Mountain. It's where he found the answer to the identity of his true competitor when he lined up on Sundays later in the year at MetLife and the other NFL stadiums in the fall.
"The competition will always be you vs. you," Revis said. "If you stay focused and fall in love with the process, you'll always come out on top."
See images of the Jets Legends giving their Hall of Fame speeches in Canton, Ohio.