I wasn’t sure if I wanted to comment on the conclusion of a 10-part NFL Network series in which players voted for the top 100 players of 2011, mainly because GLS will be releasing its own top-100 list once we’ve wrapped up our position-by-position offseason power rankings next week.
But I figured I should at least touch on the announcement of the top 10 players, which aired last night. While it’s no surprise that Tom Brady and Peyton Manning finished first and second respectively, things got interesting in three particular spots. Here’s how the top 10 looked:
1. Tom Brady
2. Peyton Manning
3. Adrian Peterson
4. Ray Lewis
5. Ed Reed
6. Troy Polamalu
7. Andre Johnson
8. Darrelle Revis
9. Drew Brees
10. Julius Peppers
While it was obvious that these 10 players would be the guys to make the list after 11-20 were released a week ago, it’s still worth noting that Lewis, Reed, Polamalu and Peppers probably wouldn’t come close to the top 10 on lists put together by most of the people who watch the game of football for money.
In other words, I can’t see coaches, scouts and analysts watching tape from 2010 and concluding that those guys were top-10 players. Lewis and Peppers were fantastic, but did either make more of an impact than guys like Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger and Michael Vick?
There should have been more than three quarterbacks on this list, but the players who voted probably weren’t too concerned with being neutral and biased. This was about respect.
There’s a chance that Rodgers hasn’t quite earned the respect of many veteran players yet. And Roethlisberger and Vick have lost the respect of many of their peers for obvious reasons.
Two Ravens — Lewis and Reed — finished fourth and fifth. Lewis was stellar last year, but the 36-year-old’s reputation is significantly larger than his game. Reed’s 32, and it appears as though Lewis’ intense, borderline patriarchal presence has rubbed off on the veteran safety. He missed nearly half of the 2010 season, but still managed to garner enough votes to be named the fifth-best player in the game.
No team seems to command more respect than Baltimore. While the other 31 teams averaged 1.7 players in the top 56, the Ravens had five guys in that space (Lewis, Reed, Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs and Ray Rice). Only the 2009 Super Bowl champion Saints were as successful on the bottom part of the list.
The guys who voted didn’t consider the details and didn’t have to face any consequences for not doing so. They voted for their boys. They voted for peers they’ve had a chance to meet. They voted for the dudes who command respect and grab headlines.
And as a result, their list is both extremely revealing and extremely flawed.