When he was playing in the NFL, off the field is where Darrelle Revis took his most significant gambles. He’s rolling the dice again by partnering with a sportsbook.
Darrelle Revis can’t help but chuckle. Even in retirement, the former All-Pro NFL cornerback known as “Revis Island” for the better part of a decade finds the notion of purchasing his own personal island to be a bit much.
“Hmm. Uh, I think it’s very farfetched at this point here,” Revis tells Sports Illustrated, laughing as he responds. “I don’t wanna go bankrupt at this point.”
There’s a subtle irony in his measured stance.
Revis spent 11 seasons gambling on himself. On the field, he played a position where instinctive skill is more often utilized—and imperative—than any other spot. Revis was one of the most successful players at his position, registering 29 career interceptions (including three returned for touchdowns) and 139 pass deflections. He also notched four All-Pro first-team selections, seven Pro Bowl trips and one Super Bowl title.
Off the field, however, is where Revis perhaps took his greatest, most significant gambles—and consistently won. He accrued over $124 million in NFL salary during his career and ranks among the highest-paid football players ever thanks to lucrative deals backed by elite play. With familiarity in leveraging high-risk, high-reward scenarios, it’s rather fitting then that Revis partnered up with PointsBet, an online sportsbook, following his playing career.
“Staying sharp on the field has aligned me with premium companies in the business world,” he says. “I think that’s why PointsBet and I partnered up, because I believe in some of their core values.”
Touted by many as the best cornerback of his generation, Revis demonstrated the same confidence on the field that he exhibited off of it, particularly in the negotiating room. It started when the New York Jets drafted him with the 14th pick of the 2007 NFL draft. Revis negotiated a rookie contract that paid him $18.9 million over six years. In 2010, after putting together one of the best individual defensive seasons ever, Revis held out until the Jets compensated him for his performance. New York, despite public jousting, eventually caved and agreed to a four-year, $46 million deal with $32 million guaranteed. Then, three years later, Revis made the biggest gamble of his career when he signed a six-year, $96 million deal with the Buccaneers—with no guaranteed money—coming off a torn ACL injury that forced him to miss 14 games the previous season.
“It just goes back to taking those risks,” Revis says. “You perform well, you take those risks. I took risks in my career, especially at the negotiating table. In Tampa, I took a six-year, $96 million deal with no guarantees. Those are some of the risks that you might take. Everybody else might not want to be that risky based on them not having the job security.”
After one season with the Bucs, Revis signed a one-year, $12 million deal with the New England Patriots. He then returned to the Jets in 2015. New York made Revis the highest-paid cornerback in the league, signing him to a five-year, $70 million deal. Only the first two years were guaranteed—and the Jets cut him after that period—but he once again commanded the money that he desired, successfully betting on himself.
“For me, I just always believe in myself,” Revis says. “I’ll always have faith in my work ethic.”
The ripple effects of Revis's sagacity will likely be felt for years to come. He says that it was his intent for it to be this way, that he always kept an eye toward life after his playing career. But while Revis was setting himself up to comfortably retire in his early 30s, he was also trying to pave the way for those following him. It’s a responsibility he felt compelled to fulfill.
Cornerback is arguably the most difficult position to play in football, and with the NFL becoming a pass-heavy league, talented cover corners come at a premium. Revis believes they should be paid like it.
“I’ve tried to always take risks and keep the market high for our position, so the next guy that comes along and wants to get compensated, he can either make as much or more,” Revis says. “I think that sums it up as just keeping that market actually at a high number.”
During the 2018 season, Jets cornerback Trumaine Johnson made $26 million, a total that ranked highest among all corners and was tied for eighth among all players. Last year, five corners earned $15 million; 10 earned more than $10 million.
Having set the bar at his position, Revis applauds what other NFL players have done in terms of resetting the market. He specifically praises Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald for keeping the market high for the next player that comes after him. Revis says that the league is entering an “amazing time” when mentioning how Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the league’s MVP, could potentially become the first-ever player to sign a contract worth $200 million.
Revis is part of the reason such contracts are possible. He can smile reflecting on his career, having maximized his financial value and on-field triumphs. His advice to those currently in the league: play well, so when you’re in position to be compensated, you’re getting you due; but remember to save up.
“I’m only 33 and I’m blessed and happy that I can say I’m retired at 33 years old,” Revis says. “That’s not normal for Americans. At the end of the day, you want to save up because you’re going to have to do something else post-career in your life. Whatever vision you have, whatever business opportunities you want to get into, you want to save up, because you’re going to be actually doing something else.
“I wish I could play football until I was 45, but I would be out there all broken up.”
Now, Revis hopes his football acumen and business savvy translate over to the gambling world. He’s working with PointsBet to help sports bettors by passing along advice, featuring in “The Revis Betting Academy,” which serves as an introduction to PointsBet and teaches users how to place wagers and utilize the site’s app. Revis also hosts a weekly segment called “Darrelle’s Corner” which features Revis breaking down NFL games and offering his picks.
"The Darrelle Revis Sports Betting Academy and 'Darrelle’s Corner' is basically just giving insight and education for the sports bettor to place the best choice for that particular bet," Revis says. "Basically, we have educational content and educational videos on the website—if you go to www.pointsbet.com or you can also download the app—where I have tons of educational videos where it explains to you how to work the app and how to place a bet. It’s pretty sweet."
Perhaps if Revis is as successful a betting guide as he was a football player, he can help someone cash in on a major payday. Maybe then the notion of someone owning Revis Island won’t sound so farfetched.