PHOENIX — It was one of the few Twitter beefs that was actually interesting. Some two years ago, an up-and-coming star on the Seattle Seahawks named Richard Sherman kept comparing himself to an established talent, then playing for the New York Jets, named Darrelle Revis. Much trolling ensued.
Sherman had spent much of the 2012 season publicly comparing himself to Revis. It was brilliant marketing. Remember, while Sherman has an uber-profile now and is considered maybe the best cornerback in football, he didn't and wasn't then. So Sherman nudged and prodded and poked Revis until Revis had enough.
Making sure to include @rsherman_25, Revis tweeted:
Revis wasn't done.
That would be Falcons wide receiver Roddy White.
Sherman tweeted back:
What's happened since has been fascinating. Sherman's been one of the few athletes to call himself the best and actually live up to the billing. He's no longer a blowhard; he's a mature leader—not just on the Seahawks, but in the entire NFL.
Meanwhile, Revis hasn't changed; he is the mad-scientist corner who plays the position as well as anyone.
This week brings a variety of stories and non-stories, personalities and investigations, PSI and CSI. There will be Deflatriots, a star quarterback in Tom Brady, an up-and-coming star in Russell Wilson and talk of a running back's crotch.
Yet despite of all that, the two best stories might also be the two best athletes in Super Bowl XLIX, Revis and Sherman. In fact, an argument could be made that they're the biggest stars not named Tom Brady.
There was some star power on display Sunday, when Sherman—just a short time after landing in Phoenix—showed the same outward confidence he once did against Revis. Sherman said the impending investigation into the deflating of the Patriots' footballs will not lead to New England getting punished. Why? Not because of guilt or innocence, but because of Roger Goodell's close relationship with owner Robert Kraft.
"Will they be punished? Probably not," Sherman said. "Not as long as Robert Kraft and Goodell are taking pictures at their respective homes. I think he was just at Kraft's house last week for the NFC Championship. Talk about conflict of interest."
Then, Sherman, alluding to Spygate accusations from 2007, went even further.
"I think the perception is the reality," he said. "It is what it is. Their resume speaks for itself. You talk about getting close to the line...I don't really have a comment about that, but their past is what their past is, their present is what their present is."
Wow. Just wow. Sherman took about, oh, 25 seconds to make news.
Sherman will have more to say in the coming days, but it shouldn't distract from what's coming on the field, where what he and Revis do is nothing less than magical.
There is more appreciation between the two now, particularly when it comes to Sherman. He told reporters (via CBS) this week, of Revis: "He's had a great year and he's been doing his job effectively. I like what I've seen from his game. I'm sure people will make comparisons. They always do. But we play the game two different ways.
"[He] plays it more meticulous and more conventional on his technique. Mine is more unorthodox. It's more difficult to replicate what I do on the football field. So it's two different styles to compare. I play my way and he plays his way and both of them are effective."
Revis is the better of the two, though that's like picking between different starships. What makes Revis a superior player is that he lines up against the best, follows the best all over the field. This is the second-hardest thing to do in all of professional sports. Playing quarterback is first; playing a strict cover corner is second.
Sherman's style is indeed different. It's a freer style, less physical and reliant more on his speed.
Sherman and Revis harken back to a time when cover corners were stars. Like in the 1970s or '80s. No, they weren't stars like quarterbacks, but they were as popular as any other player on the field.
No, you will not see Sherman and Revis sniping at each other on Twitter this week. But you will see them dominate.
Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.