This was a late-developing Darrelle Revis day at the Pro Bowl.
Revis and his AFC teammates had another 45-minute session with Ravens coach John Harbaugh's staff — "Practice," Revis said, "is a piece of cake" — and then scattered from their meeting-room-turned-locker room at the Ihilani Resort & Spa.
But I wanted to check in with Darrelle, and so did Jim Corbett of USA Today — "Gentleman Jim," I like to call him from his days covering the Jets for the Journal News. Then when Corbett was done, one NFL rep came in with an autographing request, followed by an NFL Films crew who commandeered Revis for a 15-minute interview, parts of which may air during the 2009 season on ESPN's "NFL Films Presents."
Finally, Darrelle sat down in the Ihilani's breezy Pacific panorama of a lobby to talk with Eric Allen back at the Atlantic Health Training Center, then chatted a few more minutes with me before I turned him loose for his afternoon with family and friends and the resort's white-sands lagoon.
"It's all good," he said patiently. "Anything for the Jets."
Since I've known him, Darrelle embodies for me all you want in an NFL player. He's humble and polite, but in his two pro seasons he's quickly climbed the ladder at his position. Here is Revis' reply to Allen on the topic.
"Man, it's just a blessing to be out here and see the talent on the field. I can go forever naming the list of exceptional players," he said. "It's great for me. I always wanted to be a Pro Bowler. It's what I worked hard for and it's a humbling experience. Ray Lewis is next to me, Troy Polamalu. All these players represent the NFL every year. It's great for me to be in the mix with them."
Yet of course Revis has quickly moved from being merely in the mix to being one of the NFL's main mixers at the cornerback position. I asked him after his Jets Radio interview if, despite his air of humility, he's driven to be the best at his chosen position.
"Yes, I want to be listed as the No.1 corner in the NFL," he said. "People have different opinions. Somebody one day says Darrelle Revis is the No. 1 corner, the next day somebody says Nnamdi [Asomugha of the Raiders] is the best, so there's a lot of mixed opinions.
"You just want to be happy that you're at least acknowledged as being one of the best. So I'm going to just keep on working hard to do what I have to do to cement myself as the best corner or be one of the best."
Revis even admitted this Pro Bowl is not only the end of his 2008 season but that his '09 season has already begun.
"From a mental standpoint, yes, it has," he said. "This week we've been doing some of the Ravens' stuff during our practices. And some of the coaches were telling me this is going to be the same stuff that Rex [Ryan] is going to be putting into it. So I'm already getting a jumpstart a little bit on some of the stuff we're going to be doing this upcoming season."
I asked Darrelle if he knows enough about his new head coach's system from this week of exposure with the Ravens staff to know how different this scheme will be for him.
"Yeah, I got a feel for some things," he replied. "It's totally different from what I played in last year. There's some more inside things I need to know, where a lot of other people are going to be at, so I can know where my strength's at and where my weakness is at."
With that answer, Revis was finally able to shift back into relaxation mode. Some 20 family members and friends have made this trip to Oahu with him — including Ty Law, Revis' mentor and friend from Aliquippa, Pa., and six-game Jets teammate this past season. He's been taking pictures of the ocean, observing the flora and fauna, and took in a fire dance Wednesday night.
"This is a great experience," said Revis, still only 23 and already one of the best corners in the game. "I'm just enjoying my time here."
Nick's Community Service
Five thousand miles from his New Jersey base of operations, Nick Mangold was one of several Pro Bowl players who took part today after practice in a community event. The NFL presented a $1 million donation to the Hawaii NFL Youth Education Town.
This is the first NFL YET to be built outside of a Super Bowl host city. These structures are designed to help kids from 7 to 17 years old succeed by providing educational assistance, job training, technical instruction, life skills development and recreational outlets.
The Hawaii NFL YET, built on 1.6 acres of Hawaiian Home Lands next to Nanaikapono Elementary School in Nanakuli, will officially open next month.
Charger Makes Room for Faneca
San Diego G Kris Dielman is the other third of the AFC's starting interior O-line that features two Jets, LG Alan Faneca and Mangold at C. Dielman, who was the next player after Revis set to be interviewed by NFL Films, said he's really enjoyed his time working with the two Jets.
The Chargers left guard also expressed a moment of regret that he's been relocated for this game.
"Yeah, I have to play the right side," Dielman said. "But Alan, he's earned the right to play the left side."
This is Dielman's second Pro Bowl, Faneca's eighth.
Otis, My Man
As I was talking to EA on the cell, a player walked by, nodded and waved. He looked awfully familiar but for a split-second I couldn't place the face.
Then it hit me as he walked up the stairs. "Otis, is that you?"
Yes, indeed, it was Otis Smith, the former Jets cornerback who was here at the Pro Bowl venue. No, Otis was not an alternate who sneaked in to fill a roster spot — he's been retired since after the 2005 season. But he is a coach — the assistant DBs coach for the Philadelphia Eagles.
"We had a good year," Smith said of the Eagles. "We just came up a little short last season."
We exchanged pleasantries and reminisced about the almost great seasons the Jets had with him at RCB in 1997-98 — he set the record for most INT-return TDs in one game with his two runbacks against Tampa Bay in December 1997.