WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Ex-Bethune Cookman standout
still resides in Dallas serving
the Lord and his congregation
BY TONY CASTRO
In a way, Michael “Mike” Anthony Revell’s life has gone full circle.
Though his 81-year-old mother, Ruby Lee Revell, still calls Brooksville home and his 82-year-old father Roosevelt Freeman resides in Jacksonville, it’ll be a coming home of sorts for the 1980 Hernando High School graduate.
Revell, 55, was recently selected into the Class of 2017’s Hernando High Athletic Hall of Fame.
This year’s eight members include: Tara Allen, Mike Hamilton, Tracy Bridges, Mac Johnson, Allan Leavitt, Kimi Olmstead-O’Connell and Andrew Williams.
During the Sept. 15 home football game at Tom Fisher Memorial Stadium against Lecanto, seven new members (Leavitt will not be present), along with the 1967 HHS Baseball Team and first recipient of Ernie Chatman Legacy Award, Tom Bronson Sr., will also be feted.
Mike was born the older of two sons in Brooksville. His brother, Jeffery, also graduated from HHS in 1982.
In his playing days, Revell was built like a fire hydrant at 5-foot-11, weighing 197 pounds.
The multi-sport athlete didn’t just excel in football. He played three seasons of varsity football.
As a sophomore, he alternated between cornerback and safety under slipper Chuck Wood.
Wood, who was not retained after his 5-5 season in 1978, was replaced by Dub Palmer.
As a junior under Wood, Revell just missed rushing for 1,000 yards and also played corner.
As a senior under Palmer, the Leopards finished 9-1 as Revell lined up mostly as a rover back on defense, guarding the opposition’s finest receiver, and also saw action as a running back. He missed parts of the season due to injury.
Revell also played basketball for three seasons, two under the demanding Coach Wardlow, and remembers playing alongside the Leopards’ Antonio Vasquez and another HHS HOF Rodney Byrd.
In an era when student/athletes simply went from sport to sport, Revell also participated in track and field.
Across three seasons, he reached states twice, concentrating in the long jump and high jump.
As a senior during the Class 3A FHSAA State Finals, he returned home to Hernando County with a shiny second-place silver medal in the long jump with a leap of at 24’6”.
He was eventually named All-Gulf Coast Athletic Conference and All-Area by the Tampa Tribune in both football and track and field.
Both Revell and another Leopard standout during that time, Eddie Lee Warren, drove up to the FSU football camp prior to their senior year.
But the boys missed curfew one day and we’re shown the door. That blown opportunity may have closed the door on D-I looks. Instead, the duo visited Florida A&M.
Yet, after the season, few offers drifted in.
Frazier urged BC coaching staff to give his nephew a chance.
With a helmet that was too big and size 14 shoes that didn’t fit, Revell took the practice field basically as a walk-on with some Pell grant money.
In his first week of practice, Revell turned heads with his guts and his moves. So much so, that he was reissued equipment that actually fit.
The rest was history.
Revell was named Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Freshman Player of the Year.
He also roomed with ex-Leopard Warren.
But as Revell pointed out, “There wasn’t a party on the beach Eddie didn’t miss. He never showed up at school. At the end of the first semester, Eddie was no longer at Bethune.”
For 3½ seasons, until a Achilles heal injury sidelined him as a senior, Revell excelled for the Volusia County Wildcats’ program.
Across his four-year career, he rushed for 2,500 yards and tallied 22 touchdowns while snaring 59 passes.
That led to being selected as the 222nd player, out of 336, in the eighth round of the 1984 draft by the Dallas Cowboys.
NFL: Not For Long
Prior to the draft, Revell believed he was going to get selected by New York Giants or Jets. He had been flown in for a couple workouts.
With 12 reps swarming his parent’s home in Brooksville on draft day, Revell snuck out and meandered his way to his grandmother’s home.
It was there, Revell remembers receiving a call from his mother that “someone is about to call you.” His mother wouldn’t let on as to who it was.
A minute later, on the other end of the phone line was NFL Hall of Famer Thomas Wade “Tom” Landry.
“Michael, this Tom Landry. Congratulations and welcome to the Dallas Cowboys,” recalled a stunned Revell. “Honestly, I thought someone was pulling a prank until the Running Backs Coach Al Levane took the phone and explained that the Cowboys expected me in a next week for introductions and orientation.”
Curiously, this was the same Cowboys organization that already had Tony Dorsett, Ron Springs, Timmy Newsome, James Jones and Chuck McSwain in its crowded backfield plans.
Once he reached training camp, Revell received $30,000 basically for a cup of coffee.
“The Cowboys had a reputation for using bodies,” explained Revel. “Some say it’s the ugliness of the NFL; but it’s a business.
“You would think coming on to a team that everybody would help you make the team; like the NFL is a fraternity. But it’s not,” painted Revell. “As a rookie, I walked in like I had a scarlet letter on my back because I was trying to unseat somebody.
“In camp, I had two allies, Dorsett and Emerson Walls,” recalled Revell. “Walls kept referring to me as his “Black school brother”. Dorsett was already established. Why would he feel threatened by an eighth-round draft choice?
“… Dorsett treated me like a big brother. We got along real well. He made sure to point out which places I didn’t need to go into,” added Revell. “He even had my locker put in next to him. He didn’t have to do that, but he did.”
Revell recalls playing in three pre-season games until Coach Levane told him the Cowboys we’re releasing him to make room for a sixth and final running back.
But late during the 1984 season, the Cowboys resigned Revell for the 1985 campaign.
That year, in the third pre-season game at the Los Angeles Coliseum against the Raiders, Revell took a toss in a third-quarter run. Attempting to brace his fall, his extended right arm and landed on an uncovered sprinkler head.
The landing was so severe he had injured the ulna nerve in his right arm.
He dressed for the next game against San Diego, but never played. The ’Boys immediately cut him.
But Revell filed a grievance with the league that he should‘ve been paid because he was injured while playing. Eventually, he won the grievance, but never played another down with the Cowboys.
He even traveled to Great White North and stood on the sidelines for three games as a member of the Canadian Football League’s Saskatchewan Roughriders before opting to return home.
When he returned to Brooksville, he was hired by Parrott Middle School as a coach, but after the school year he returned back to Dallas, where he has lived ever since.
Life after football
When he decided not to attempt to play again, the bachelor’s degree in communications and minor in English morphed into an opportunity to work for United Parcel Service.
He quickly moved up the company ranks and ended up networking enough into receiving a gig as a congressional lobbyist working with Texas politico Senator Lloyd Bentson and Missouri’s House of Representative Richard Andrew “Dick” Gephardt.
After three years as lobbyist, Revell was out of job and seeking his next call. In the interim, he divorced his first wife, whom he had two daughters with.
“I had a spiritual awakening one day in church,” pointed out Revell. “I volunteered as an usher. One day, the minister said, “He liked my spirit.”
The next day, his life switched becoming a member of the minister’s administrative staff.
The man responsible was Bishop Kenny Jakes.
Revell has faithfully served The Potter’s House of Dallas, Texas on their world-wide crusades for the past 15 years. In return, his bills have been paid for.
Since he joined Jakes’ congregation, he married his high school sweetheart, ex-Springstead Eagle graduate Lisa Moore
His family has swelled to three girls and three boys.
His oldest son attended the University of Texas, another at Sam Houston State. He’s got a daughter on a track scholarship at Texas Tech University in Lubbock.
“I’m a true believer in the Lord,” stressed Revell. “I’m living proof. The Lord has provided for me and my family. All my kids, except the youngest has graduated from high school and attended college. I’m so thankful.”
“…I’ve been blessed. People don’t feel threatened when I come over and try to help someone cross the street with huge bags in their arms,” he said. ‘That’s a gift; it’s opened up many doors.
“I’m the kind of person that could be comfortable in any setting whether its on a farm or going to the White House,” he added. “I’m a person who remembers the past. I look ahead and not look back.”
Reaction to HOF nod
After learning of his HOF induction, “I’ll admit, I was somewhat surprised,” revealed Revell. “My wife asked why didn’t they recognize me before. I say, “That doesn’t matter. They recognize me know.’”
“The simple fact is they called me now,” emphasized Revell. “I’m able to take my place among some of the school’s best-ever.”
In the induction banquet, the night before the Lecanto game, Revell admitted he’ll be introduced by his best friend and former HHS basketball coach Charley Williams.
He’s looking forward to rubbing elbows with old buddies like Marion Jones, Vincent Parnell and nephews Carlos and Andrew Timmons.
As of press time, Revell is not 100 percent certain at how many of his kids will make the trip from Hurricane Harvey-ravaged Texas to Brooksville. His wife of 17 years, Lisa, is expected to make the trip.
Card of thanks
Revell indicated there are three HHS coaches he’d like to thank for this blessing.
“First of all, Lorenzo Hamilton was the foundation for me,” explained Revell. “Ernie Chatman was one of my best friends. You hated him for all the drills we did, over and over and over again. But you also loved him because he got the best out of all of us.
“I’d be remiss if I didn’t add Terry Owens. I wish I could remember all the talks we had on and off the field,” recalled Revell. “He acted more as a mentor and was someone who genuinely gave advice. I’d be walking home after practice and he’d see me and say, ‘Hop in’ and give me lift without hesitation.”
Revell also gave props to Coach Palmer, Tom Darby and Fred Hudson for shaping his road map of life.
On what Revell would like to pass on to next generation of Leopard athletes, “That it‘s OK to be a gentleman and say, “Yes, sir and yes, ma’am.” You don‘t see many of those people left.
“Having manners and being gracious speaks volumes of the kind of person anyone is. I’m a strong believer that it‘s always better to give than to receive,” stressed Revell. “I’m very honored to be attending. I certainly don’t take this lightly.
“… Right now, I’m at a loss of words for how much this means. I can tell you, my kids are ecstatic for their dad.”
2017 HHS ATHLETIC HOF