With the San Francisco 49ers linked to Darrelle Revis until they either trade for him or acquire another player considered to be a No. 1 cornerback, many are thinking about Deion Sanders right now.
The similarities are obvious – Sanders was considered the best in the league at covering opposing wide receivers and had a nickname – Primetime, although a few preferred “Neon Deion” – that spoke to his reputation. “The best cover corner” is still a label Revis clings to, despite the torn ACL he suffered during the 2012 season. He carries a nickname too, although “Revis Island” is more a statement of his impact on the field as opposed to something people call him in interviews or at the club.
Sanders left a brash team that was never quite good enough to contend for a title in Atlanta to come play for the 49ers, a talented group that was missing a top-flight corner to pair with Eric Davis. Revis plays for the Jets, the football team in New York that talks a better game than it plays.
The similarities end there.
This isn’t to say that the 49ers can’t trade for Revis and go on to win Super Bowl XLVIII. Revis is a great cornerback, and adding him to a team that was already good enough to win a Super Bowl could very well help the championship-seeking process. However, just like Colin Kaepernick isn’t Steve Young, Darrelle Revis isn’t Deion Sanders.
1. Acquisition cost
The Jets still hold the rights to Revis. Sanders came to the 49ers as a free agent for $1.2 million, even though his value on the open market was much higher. That was due in part to the 49ers being up against the cap and Sanders being one of the savvier players of his time.
Except: $1.2 million in 1994 is equivalent to about $1.9 million now, and with the MLB players going on strike, Sanders needed a way to stay in the public eye. Simply playing extremely well for an average NFL team wasn’t going to cut it.
Revis only played two games in 2012. He suffered a concussion in the first game he played, a Week 2 win for the Jets against the Bills. After taking the next week off, he tore his left ACL against Miami in Week 4. While Sanders suffered a respiratory infection that cut his 1993 baseball season short and delayed the start of his 1993 football season, his ACLs were both intact when he came to the 49ers.
Except: ACL injuries aren’t quite the death knell in 2013 as they were in 1994. Revis could come back as his old self next season.
Sanders was one of the most electric return man of the early 1990s along with Eric Metcalf and Dave Meggett, while Revis has a grand total of three returns in his career (two punt, one kickoff) for eight yards. Total.
Except: The 49ers never used Sanders as a returner (and 49ers fans complained loudly at the time).
Where’s the high-stepping and do-rags? Revis has a long way to go to measure up to Sanders’ flamboyance.
Except: Revis recently got into a Twitter “fight” with Richard Sherman, which is the 2013 equivalent of wearing a do-rag. With Sherman quickly earning the role of “most annoying player in the NFL,” that Twitter battle would lead many 49ers fans to happily welcome Revis.
Sanders showed his Niners teammates the video for “Must Be The Money” on the team plane (I can’t cite a source for this, but I’m going to go against instinct and trust my memory here). Revis doesn’t have his own album, but he made a cameo appearance on a forgettable Mac Miller track as “Mr. Manhattan.” His flow was an embarrassment to rap.
You know, maybe they’re more similar than I thought.