The Sports Illustrated article that was released earlier this week named Dallas Cowboys starting quarterback Tony Romo as the second-most-overrated player in the NFL (h/t ESPN). The vote was conducted among current NFL players, eight percent of which voted Tony Romo as the most overrated player in the game today.
But the players in the NFL got this vote all wrong.
Tony Romo as the second most overrated player in the NFL? Based on what?
The media frenzy surrounding the Dallas Cowboys each and every year puts pressure on any player with a star on his helmet. The owner speaking out about winning the Super Bowl each training camp puts even more pressure on the players and coaches. You can hardly tune into ESPN or the NFL Network without hearing some mention of the Cowboys, most of the time pertaining to their star quarterback.
Digging deeper into the thought of Romo as being overrated, it's hard to find a basis for that belief.
The definition of overrated is "to rate or appraise too highly; to overestimate."
To begin my argument, I'd like to first make mention that Tony Romo didn't come into the 2012 season being regarded as an elite quarterback. Romo was not even considered to be best quarterback in his own division, thought by almost all to be below New York Giants starter Eli Manning. You can argue about player rankings until you are out of breath, but my point is that Romo did not enter the season with expectations of being an MVP candidate or a quarterback that was going to win the Super Bowl this season.
But the media machine loves to talk about the Cowboys when they are down. For every amazing touchdown pass Romo throws to Miles Austin or Dez Bryant, you will see the interception he threw three times more often on the highlight reel.
It is quite possible that players around the league are tired of hearing Romo's name mentioned on the national scene as often as it is, or maybe they feel his meteoric rise to fame was premature.
Perhaps if the players had looked beyond the surface and the highlight reels, they would have seen that Romo might should have been voted as one of the most underrated players in the NFL.
Quarterbacks are judged by many different things. Wins, playoff appearances, Super Bowl rings, touchdowns, quarterback ratings and fourth quarter heroics.
It may be unfair to judge quarterbacks by playoff wins and Super Bowl rings, but it will always be one of the things people use to determine who is an "elite" quarterback. There is no denying Tony Romo and the Cowboys have failed miserably in the playoffs during his tenure as the starter. Dallas is 1-3 with Romo as the starter in the postseason.
Want to consider overall winning percentage as a starting quarterback? Romo is 50-33 as a starting quarterback through Week 7 of the 2012 season, giving him a 60% winning percentage. That number is good for 8th among active starting quarterbacks. If that number makes Romo overrated, let's add Drew Brees (59%), Eli Manning (59%) and Matt Schaub (52%) to the list.
So now that we have wins and losses accounted for, what about his play on the field each week? Romo has thrown for 157 touchdowns in his career as a starting quarterback, good for 1.9 per game. That is the same number of touchdowns per game as Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. Are those quarterbacks considered overrated?
And who throws for less touchdowns than that per game? Matt Ryan (1.6), Ben Roethlisberger (1.5) and Joe Flacco (1.3).
There is no denying Tony Romo has a tendency to force a throw and make a bad decision that leads to an interception. He has thrown 81 interceptions in his career, good for almost a pick per game. Sounds like a high number (and to Cowboys fans, it is), but it's not as high as the numbers of Eli Manning (1.1), Carson Palmer (1.1) and Matthew Stafford (1.2).
In 1971, an executive of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Don Smith, led a special committee that created the quarterback passer rating system that is currently used. The rating is based on four statistical categories: completion percentage, yards per attempt, percentage of touchdowns and percentage of interceptions.
When you look at career ratings for active quarterbacks, Aaron Rodgers is atop the list with a 104.7 career rating, followed by Tom Brady at 96.4. And the quarterback with the third highest career rating is Tony Romo at 95.9. If Romo is overrated, what about the guys below him on the list, like Peyton Manning (95.2), Philip Rivers (94.9), Drew Brees (94.2) or Matt Ryan (89.5)?
Numbers cannot always tell the entire story of a player or the value of the player to his team. You can look at almost any individual number and inflate a player's value, or you can look at a different statistic to render him as worthless.
The bottom line is this: Tony Romo ranks near the top of any statistical category among active quarterbacks, often times higher than players widely considered to be a much better quarterback than Romo.
Elite? Maybe not. Overrated? Absolutely not, and the numbers prove it.