There is no doubt that football is one of the greatest inventions to ever grace this world. Every Sunday during football season, millions of people gather together to watch their favorite teams duke it out, whether it be at the stadium or in front of the television.
For every hundred or so athletes that play professionally there are one or two players whose star shines a little brighter than the rest. These guys are the elite of the elite; the cream of the crop in regards to determination, leadership, and raw talent and skill.
Here is a listing of the greatest skill players on the offensive side of the ball in the NFL.
Peyton Manning is easily one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever pick up the pigskin.
He has won an unprecedented four MVP Awards, more then anyone else in the history of the award.
Manning has been in the top five in terms of passing touchdowns every year that he has played in the NFL. He has never missed a start in his twelve year career and Colts teams led by Manning have won double digit games 10 times.
Not only has he managed to put himself in position as one of the top five quarterbacks of all time, but he makes receivers such as Brandon Stokley, Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie look like perennial Pro Bowlers.
His career stats of 366 touchdown passes, 50,128 passing yards, and a quarterback rating of 95.2 are simply phenomenal. By the way, don't forget about his 10 Pro Bowls and five first team All-Pro selections.
The speedy running back out of East Carolina has quickly established himself as one of the top running backs in the National Football League.
Some would argue that Adrian Peterson is the top rusher, but in my eyes Johnson takes the cake.
CJ completed last season with just over 2,000 rushing yards. Through his first two seasons, he has averaged 5.3 yards per carry.
Using his unbelievable speed, Johnson has run for 23 scores and caught three more touchdowns.
One key factor in making Johnson the top running back over Peterson was his ability to hold onto the ball. He has totaled 712 touches in his first two years and has only fumbled four times.
Look for Johnson to continue to be a marquee piece of the Titans rushing attack and continue to strike fear into the hearts of defensive coordinators across the league.
As the saying goes, "this is a guy you don't want to meet in a dark alley."
At 6' tall and weighing 260 lbs., Le'Ron McClain is a beast of a man and exactly the kind of guy you want blocking for your running backs.
McClain has the ability to do anything out of the backfield; run, catch the football, and most importantly, block.
McClain took his duties as a goal line and featured back in stride in 2008, scoring 10 touchdowns and rushing for 902 yards.
Than he came back down to earth in 2009. The Ravens running attack was one of the best, as McClain opened holes for Ray Rice and Willis McGahee.
McClain is a team player first and foremost, which is what a team needs at the fullback position; a guy willing to do whatever it takes to win.
Who do you want to throw the ball to when the game is on the line?
Easy, Larry Fitzgerald.
Arizona's star wide receiver is not only one of the most fun wide receivers to watch but he is also one of the most dependable.
Since 2005, Fitz has put up 90-plus receptions, over 1,000 yards receiving, and double digit touchdowns every year with the exception of 2006 when he was injured and missed three games.
He made the Pro Bowl each of these years except for '06 and made one All-Pro team in 2008, catching 96 passes for 1431 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Fitz also had one of the best postseasons in 2008 that we have ever seen. He led the Cardinals to the Super Bowl and compiled 546 yards receiving with seven touchdowns, including the go ahead touchdown in the Super Bowl against the Steelers.
There are other receivers who are right there in terms of talent, but when it comes down to determination and desire to win, Fitz is second to none.
Gates is really a good story for the NFL.
He gave up playing basketball for a chance to throw on a helmet in pads in the NFL. I bet a lot of Browns fans wish LeBron would do the same.
Gates has been one of the steadiest options at tight end for any team over the past six years and he still has a lot left in the tank.
Since 2004, Gates has scored eight touchdowns or more and has only fallen below 900 receiving yards once. He has also only caught less then 70 passes once in that same time frame.
Through the past six years, Gates has been elected to six straight Pro Bowls and has made the All Pro first team three times.
He has totaled 455 receptions for 5,834 yards and 57 touchdowns during this span, and is also an underrated blocker.
With Tony Gonzalez getting up in years and other tight ends being more of the receiving variety, Gates may very well be the best overall tight end in the game right now.