Vick on the bench
In the compact season that makes up each NFL yearly tradition, players develop reputations and identities that can be added or subtracted from in a pivotal moment.
These incorrect labels can be generally grouped into the following "categories":
- Washed Up
Some labels fit better than others. Some are accurate to a point while others simply miss the mark.
Whether you agree or disagree, you will come away from the following either elated, angered and/or disgusted.
The following are 50 players whose "labels" miss the mark.
I see a video camera....
Videotaping the Jets was considered bad in that a camera followed them from the Patriots side of the field. What is worse is that a willing participant in Eric Mangini (years prior) was the one to rat Bill out when it was against the team he happened to be coaching—doing the right thing still had nothing to do with it.
While Belichick was caught, one little-known nasty rumor remains that this is a common practice in football (part of football's "grey area").
Defense with a bark....
Similarly, the Redskins were dealt all sorts of criticism for their 2011 Week 3 distraction techniques on defense against the Cowboys. Causing penalties and other motion, the Redskins were called out for a common practice of getting away with false moves or noises.
I got you in my eyes...
Hard-playing and no-nonsense, Hines is infamous for breaking Keith Rivers' jaw. Ward has always played with a tenacious edge, and those that do not watch themselves find out quickly how well Ward plays between the lines.
Lickin' My Chops..
Another tough, no-nonsense Steelers' player, Harrison delivers bone-rattling and crushing hits on a regular basis.
Hitting hard and hitting like a football player are what James does, but with the new softening in the NFL's tolerance of hard play, Harrison has been labeled on the wrong side of the line for the wrong reasons.
I'm comin' for yah!
Ray Lewis could be called a lot of things. He is boorish and he has a questionable criminal incident in his past, but dirty he is not. A strong-willed, aggressive competitor, Lewis strikes fear in his opponents who would rather call him dirty than more skilled than they.
I am coming for you.... See my scowl?!
Suh is exactly what the NFL and the Lions need—a defensive leader who embodies the physical presence, skill and strength of a professional football player. Look out, because this Lion is going to run you down with all his power and might. The NFL should appreciate this throwback approach to making the game what it is.
I think I got it, I think I got it.....
Houshmandzadeh has been outspoken and a locker room conundrum but generally was a very strong deliverer in games for the Bengals. At Seattle, there were very few alternatives around him, and he was overshadowed by being well-covered. Baltimore was a different story, and it seems that the Seahawks threw him off his game for good.
Nevertheless, T.J. is a tireless competitor and moves with earnest and commitment.
I thought they wanted me....
Larry Johnson certainly has a big mouth, but this running back has given it his all when he has had the opportunity. No prima donna, Johnson happily came to the lowly Cincinnati Bengals when given a second chance, pre-T.O. where the diva drama was a one-man show at the time (in Ochocinco).
I'm the man!
DeSean has been labeled "diva" before, but for many who watch Jackson, it is truly difficult to understand the label. Jackson's game speaks volumes, and his returns change games. If you have it, flaunt it.
Eccentric and self-centered, yes; diva, hardly. Moss might be very out to left field, but his skills have shown him to be a capable receiver throughout his career.
I'm playin' again!
Ricky Williams has gone through his own self-discovery process, and while the teams he was on suffered because of it, he still shows that he is a great player. Going through his pot journey seems to have put his extra-curricular drug use in his past, and the skills this new Raven still possesses show that he still knows how to play hard.
My hair is perfect and it is the fourth quarter!
Brady may have the perfectly-placed hair and the super-model wife, but watching him pass the ball is a work of art. Tom may seem way too groomed for the gritty football player image, but the results of his game speak for themselves.
I can see!
Up until having his ribs broken and then coming back into the game, Romo could have still been appropriately termed a diva. One might even say his new bride is tougher after Romo jokingly said that his wife forced him to play and basically told him that she did not marry a weak man (so, get in there!).
Tony showed the strength of character and determination needed to be a real player by making it through the pain and playing with a punctured lung no less.
Despite being injured, Cutler was labeled a quitter because he wanted to be on the sideline and be with his teammates after being knocked out of the 2010 playoffs. Apparently those fellow players who criticized him forgot what playing on a team means.
Donovan was labeled "dumb" after he said he did not realize that it was possible to tie in a game (against the Bengals in 2008). While it is certainly somewhat disconcerting that McNabb seemed to not know this major rule, as a quarterback he has shown flashes of brilliance that truly distance Donovan from being a full-on idiot.
Throwing on the outside..
Michael Vick has been called many things as well. Naive and too trusting with questionable judgement might be a better breakdown, but the more one looks at pre-prison Vick, considering what actions were acceptable where he grew up, the less deliberate and malicious his actions look.
Having gone through a brilliant personal and professional recovery of both fame and fortune, Michael is clearly no slouch and arguably brilliant as a result.
My new duh team...
Terry Bradshaw was a leader and producer as a player. In his post-playing days, Terry has shown a down-to-earth, blue-collar personality which fans love and follow with a sense of identification.
Bradshaw is certainly no fool and has translated his on-field success to a brilliant career off the tundra long after most fans today would even understand what his original connection to the game actually is.
I can do it - I can win the vasoline challenge!
Strahan certainly did not set up his marriage well and by a result lost much of his fortune. Yet by keeping a congenial and happy demeanor, Michael has endeared himself to fans and fellow broadcasters alike beyond his tenacious football days—another success story which has been translated from the field to the studio without a trace of stupidity.
I think thats an NY behind me....
Rex Ryan may not talk like a professor or politician, but his hearty and healthy ego with unabashed confidence have literally redeemed the Jets organization. It is this confident and outspoken demeanor which is often misunderstood yet is the genius of Rex Ryan.
I caught it! Now what do I do?
Chad was elite before, but that was several years ago; the Bengals helped continue that mystique. Yet Ochocinco's time has come and gone, as he is beyond his prime.
I did it!
Eli Manning is very good, but he is no Peyton. Showing healthy stretches of brilliance with the doses of ineptitude, Eli is a hearty competitor but not consistent enough to be considered part of the elite class.
Uh, is that a blimp?
Another inconsistent, unreliable, overrated quarterback, Mark Sanchez has times of brilliance but lacks the poise and control to truly be considered elite by any means.
How many players are on the 'Me' or 'I' team?
Carson had some elite seasons but was never quite at the top of his game for more than one or two seasons. He recently fell hard back to earth with a dull thud.
Rodgers proved he was far from overrated last year, leading the Packers to the Super Bowl and showing brilliance early in the 2011 season. The sky is the limit for this more than appropriate replacement to Brett Favre.
What if I can throw it two football fields at once?
Cam Newton continues to silence his critics with his shear volume of yards thrown and run. Newton's individual stats already read like an entire offensive squad.
I will only post my pictures on twitter from now on...
Brett Favre may have destroyed his persona and therefore his larger-than-the-game legacy, but Brett is certainly not overrated as a player. To do as well as he played and go as long as he did, Brett showed a rare gift of skill and poise beyond what is seemingly mortal.
Living in Michael Vick's shadow is not easy, but Matt Ryan has shown that he is more than capable to lead the Falcons ever deeper into the playoffs and quite possibly to a Super Bowl championship.
Here it comes!
While Tim Tebow's ability to play at an elite level in the NFL is still in question, Tim's natural leadership ability is the most underrated aspect of his game. When Tebow gets his chance to lead, look out.
Marshall has been discounted because he was or is the only option for the most part on the teams he has been a part of. This alone shows why calling him overrated is over-presumptuous.
I'm the man...
T.O. showed last year why he is one of the greatest physical specimens in the NFL with his religious-level commitment to his health and being in shape for the game. Watching Chad Ochocinco next to T.O. and the dramatic shift over to Terrell by Carson Palmer, showed that this player is far from overrated.
Overhand passing? Oh, interception...
Jordan Palmer is unfairly labeled simply because he is rated in the NFL. Jordan was the benefactor of his brother's abilities and given a gift to be a backup quarterback. Yet after getting cut in 2011, Jordan went to the United Football League and was promptly cut approximately a day after trying out to be an UFL backup. Speaks volumes, does it not?
Simpson will be a conundrum no matter the result of the pending marijuana investigation at a house Jerome owns. Simpson has been a tireless contributor in helping out at schools, playgrounds, etc. in Cincinnati, which makes this situation simply unknown.
Ben went through a phase but is showing that he is back and ready to lead. Trouble seems to be no longer in this Steeler and newly-married man.
It seems Texas does not agree with one of its native sons. Seemingly every time Cedric goes home, something happens. Yet the trouble inflicted is isolated to the player himself and generally has only a by-product affect on the team. As a player and teammate, Benson has been a positive contributor to a much-maligned Bengals squad.
Plaxico could be called immature or undisciplined with a gun, but the only trouble he generally saw was when he shot himself.
Labeling McFadden as an underachiever would have been appropriate in 2010 when Fox Sports branded Darren as a star only if football were an individual sport. Anybody watching the beginning of this season is reminded why this label is totally off-target.
Johnson is one of the few players to avoid on the Chiefs' defense. With 422 tackles, 96 assists, 14 forced fumbles, four fumbles recovered, seven interceptions (three returned for touchdowns) and 14 sacks over six full seasons going through Week 3 of the 2011 season, Johnson has been achieving long past the aforementioned Foxsports.com label.
Another completely mislabeled linebacker from Fox, Vilma is a three-time Pro Bowler who has accumulated nine-and-a-half sacks, 11 interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), 10 forced fumbles, eight fumbles recovered, 564 tackles and 228 assisted tackles over seven full seasons (and through Week 3 of the 2011 season).
Another 2010 laugher from Fox Sports, in that Forte has only been in the league three years and already has two 1,000-plus yard seasons (including a best 1,238-yard season his rookie year). Over three full seasons (and through Week 3 of the 2011 season), Forte has rushed 846 times for 3,355 yards, 18 touchdowns rushing and eight touchdowns receiving.
Starks broke out in the 2011 playoffs, and though it is early, he clearly showed up at the right place, in the right time. Yet he still has a ways to go before we can call James underrated.
Three good weeks do not make this former backup underrated—especially coming off of a lockout-shortened offseason. After Week 10, this may be more appropriately unfair.
The only reason this is unfair is because Alex Smith is barely a starting quarterback and simply should be called overrated—not underrated. Saying he has traveled through multiple coaching schemes is not enough to protect his lack of NFL level talent.
Conversely, Grossman has suffered through multiple coaching changes, switching back and forth between the starting job to the bench (not to mention being a former Bears' starter and Texans' backup).
After leading the Bears to the NFC Championship in 2006, Grossman was pulled as a much-maligned starter in 2007. Yet anybody who has watched Grossman knows how much potential this quarterback has.
Hmmm... What time is it...
Peyton Manning is coming back—repaired neck and all. Beware...
Week 1 of 2011 was a disaster for the Pittsburgh defense. The Steelers more than made up for their performance with a shutout in Week 2.
Urlacher was knocked out in 2009, and despite making it back to the Pro Bowl last season, many fans are still labeling Urlacher as washed up. How wrong the public could be about this seven-time Pro Bowler and four-time All-Pro, whose career includes 41.5 sacks, 20 interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), nine forced fumbles, 12 fumbles recovered, 927 tackles and 283 assisted tackles is obvious.
Anybody who counts out this five-time Pro Bowler (three-time first team All-Pro), really has not watched NFL football in the last 10 years closely.
Rushing: 144 touchdowns, 13,466 yards over 3116 attempts (4.3 yards per carry average).
Receiving: 594 receptions, 4,519 yards with 16 touchdowns.
This six-time Pro Bowler (three-time first-team All-Pro) is far from done with 133.5 career sacks, eight interceptions (three for touchdowns), 45 forced fumbles, 29 fumbles recovered (six for touchdowns), 519 tackles (243 assisted) and three safeties over his career.
At age 28, Gore is way too young to be considered washed up, though many are maligning him as such. Frank has compiled healthy stats despite being a part of a limited offensive attack and should only add to his totals as his team improves.
Being quick to judge serves nobody's best interest and these individuals prove that, for better or worse, one needs to actually evaluate each player's total body of work.