PHOENIX — Ask those who know him, whether they be teammates or enemies, and you’ll rarely get the same answer twice.
What makes Darrelle Revis, one of the all-time great cover cornerbacks, special?
In eight NFL seasons, Revis has been an All-Pro four times and a Pro Bowler six times. But he never has played for a championship until Sunday, when his New England Patriots will play the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl 49.
Had a deflated-football scandal not dominated headlines over the past two weeks, more of the Super Bowl pregame spotlight would have shone on Revis.
He’s such an incredible athlete that there’s no consensus on his most prominent trait.
Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia: “Revis is one of the most competitive guys that we have and he wants to do a great job every single day, whether it’s the offseason, whether it’s practice or whether it’s the game.”
Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin: “Darrelle Revis is one of the most patient cornerbacks. He’s very cerebral.”
Patriots receiver Julian Edelman: “Revis has some of the best balance I’ve ever seen.”
Buffalo Bills coach Rex Ryan, who coached Revis for four seasons with the New York Jets: “His work ethic’s unbelievable.”
Patriots receiver Danny Amendola: “His ability to read the coverages, read the routes develop, watch other guys run their routes and also cover his guy. He can do a lot of things at once.”
Hall of Fame cornerback Mike Haynes: “He’s elevated the entire secondary play in New England just by being there.”
Patriots cornerback Brandon Browner: “His game is pretty smooth and polished. It seems like he isn’t running as hard as the guy he is covering. The guy he is covering always seems like he is sprinting, but he kind of has a jog about his game.”
A celebratory jog around University of Phoenix Stadium is what Revis envisioned when he signed what essentially was a one-year contract with the Patriots. He was chasing a championship.
“This is where I always wanted to be,” Revis said before Wednesday’s practice. “It took eight years.”
Revis came close twice. Ryan’s first two years with the Jets ended with losses in the AFC title game.
Revis tore a knee ligament in 2012. The Jets, weary from his contract squabbles and unsure he’d bounce back from reconstructive surgery, traded him to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before the 2013 season.
“He’s still shutting down people,” said Haynes, a nine-time Pro Bowler with the Patriots and Los Angeles Raiders. “He’s still getting older and wiser and doing things smarter.
“He’s had a great career so far and is going to continue to have a great career. He’s destined for the Hall of Fame, but I do agree a championship would validate him.”
The advanced statisticians at ProFootballFocus.com charted Revis for 11 pass breakups this season, tied for third in the NFL. Usually, cornerbacks who accumulate a lot of breakups do so because they get picked on. Quarterbacks test them to exploit them.
Revis, though, ranked fourth among all cornerbacks in PFF’s overall position grades. PFF’s charts showed that when quarterbacks threw into Revis’ coverage, they completed only 52 percent of their throws for an average of 34.8 yards a game.
“There’s a lot of times where we put Revis on their best receiver and he takes them out of the game,” Patriots receiver Brandon LaFell said.
Revis’ career – for now – compares to that of Champ Bailey, a 12-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro who didn’t get a chance to play in the Super Bowl until last year. Bailey barely was hanging onto a job with the Denver Broncos, who were poleaxed by the Seahawks.
Revis has called his Super Bowl experience “surreal” and admitted doubts had crept inside his head that he ever would get here.
“I’m sure I can speak for a lot of guys in the NFL who don’t make it to the playoffs,” Revis said. “There’s some guys that play 13 or 14 years and never make the playoffs.
“It’s tough to get to this point. It really is, and when you’ve failed in the past, you just know you were that close, but it’s so far away.
“Actually getting here is pretty awesome, but to win it, it would be mind-blowing to win it.”