A ruptured Achilles tendon ended NaVorro Bowman's 2016 season after four games, but the injury did little to hurt his self-confidence.
"To not be mentioned as one of the best since I entered the league makes me feel a certain way sometimes," Bowman said in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle's Eric Branch. "… For the respect not to be presented and given, it just doesn’t make sense to me."
The 29-year-old added that "a healthy Bowman is still the best linebacker in the NFL."
Bowman was a first-team All-Pro for three straight years between 2011 and 2013 and earned the honor again in 2015. He's also a three-time Pro Bowler.
Prior to the Achilles injury, Bowman was undoubtedly one of the best linebackers in the NFL. Whether he was the best is up for discussion since Von Miller, Bobby Wagner and Luke Kuechly all make strong arguments for that title.
There's also the question as to whether Bowman can be the same player after rupturing his Achilles. He made a strong recovery from the torn ACL and MCL that wiped out his 2014 season, but an Achilles injury can have long-term consequences.
Terrell Suggs came back from a torn Achilles to play in 15 games for the Baltimore Ravens last year. He finished with 35 combined tackles and eight sacks. Suggs is also five years older than Bowman.
If Bowman can make a similarly strong comeback in 2017, then he should once again be among the league's top linebackers.