(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.
(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.
("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.