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Appreciating greatness as it’s happening: Some players really are just that good

NFL: Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2023 Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, former New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis was announced as a member of the 2023 Hall of Fame class.

As a Jets fan born in 1995, this induction hit home a bit harder for me because Revis is the first Hall of Fame level ‘great’ Jets player that I got to watch play out his career. I saw him get drafted. I saw him struggle before making good on his promise. I saw him become ‘Revis Island’ after Rex Ryan was hired as Head Coach; the man was so good they literally renamed Manhattan in his honor. I saw him reach the apex of his career and maybe the apex of the career of any CB that has played the game.

... And then I got to see his fall from that apex. I saw Revis tear an ACL. I remember exactly where I was when he got traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Then I saw him get cut by Tampa Bay a year later just to get signed by our in-division rival, the New England Patriots. Then I watched him find his form again in New England and win a Super Bowl. And then I saw him return to the Jets for a year of great (but not prime Revis level) performance before seeing him swan song. Heck, I even remember his time with the Kansas City Chiefs even if it was only for what felt like a surreal minute.

Revis’ career wasn’t all great at all times, but I saw it all and there’s something special about having seen his whole story play out firsthand. I like to think I appreciated how good he was when he was that good and enjoyed every moment as they came. However, I’m not really sure any of us really did because it’s hard to appreciate something when you think it’s always going to be there, and when Revis was that good, it really did feel like he’d be great forever... but he wasn’t... no player ever is.

This thought stuck with me as I watched the game Sunday and watched Kansas City Chiefs Quarterback Patrick Mahomes put on the type of performance that people should remember and talk about for decades. However, after the game, we talked about flags and penalties. By no means does it apply to everyone, but it didn’t feel like we appreciated his performance enough.

And before the Super Bowl and throughout the playoffs, a lot of time was spent talking about whether anyone is better than Mahomes right now and where he ranks among the all time greats. Game after game, Mahomes played great and game after game time was spent trying to find someone who was better.

With Revis in mind, I say, “who cares?” to the “all time greats” questions (at least until a guy’s career is over). Just enjoy the show while we can because we don’t really know how long the roller coaster will last... and I can guarantee we’ll all wish the ride went a little bit longer when it’s all over. As it pertains to Mahomes, we’re watching history so we might as well soak it in because it never come back around.

As a Jets fan, I can only hope that the next ‘Revis’ level player arrives soon (or maybe he already has... cough... Sauce... cough). Regardless, I can tell you that I’ll be doing my best to just appreciate it for all its worth when they do.