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None shall pass

Darelle Revis is the best defender in football -- and may become a legend

Originally Published: June 30, 2010
By Shaun Assael | ESPN The Magazine

This story appears in the July 12, 2010 edition of ESPN The Magazine.

Ask Dennis Thurman to describe the dance that Darrelle Revis does before games and the defensive backs coach of the New York Jets stammers. "Well, he kind of -- I mean, there's that -- oh, heck, what can I say? It's just goofy."

It takes a home video that Revis put on YouTube to understand what Thurman means. There, in a Miami hotel before this year's Pro Bowl, the cornerback does a bow-legged, crotch-grabbing, hip-hop jig that looks like something Jay-Z might do if he were learning to polka. It's the last thing you'd expect to see from a young legend in the making, a guy whose timing is so accurate that he has reinspired a cheeky catchphrase -- two-thirds of the world is covered by water; the rest is covered by Revis -- not to mention a Facebook page welcoming you to the Church of Revis Christ.

Jets coaches can't say enough about the fourth-year pro, who keyed a defense that held opponents to a league-low 252 yards per game last season. In fact, it's tough for anybody to categorize Revis, because while there are all sorts of ways to describe offensive success, the dictionary for defense is crude by comparison. To explain how dominating the 5-foot-11 Revis was in holding receivers to a 33 percent completion rate against him in coverage, while allowing a league-low 3.5 yards per attempt, the analysts at Football Outsiders had to reach across the line of scrimmage, declaring Revis' performance the equivalent of a wideout's breaking Jerry Rice's single-season record for receiving yards, or a QB's topping Dan Marino's iconic 1984 passing-yards total.

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