A Fan's Take on the Sporting News' Top 100 Players

Cody Swartz@cbswartz5Senior Writer ISeptember 11, 2009

I have subscribed to Sporting News and Sports Illustrated for as long as I remember, and I eagerly await the new issues of these magazines for me to read cover to cover and then pass to my friends.

The recent issue of Sporting News published a list of the top 100 players in the NFL—an annual list that makes me just more in the mood for football season.


With this issue, came the usual guys at the top of the list.

Peyton Manning and Tom Brady ranked No. 1 and 2, just as I would have placed them, followed by Adrian Peterson, Larry Fitzgerald, and LaDainian Tomlinson.

No surprises and no real controversy there, but the rest of the list came as quite a shock to me.

Ben Roethlisberger at No. 12?! And Drew Brees, six spots LOWER at No. 18?

How could the experts have felt Brett Favre was worthy to be in the top 100—No. 51, no less—but Aaron Rodgers was not?

No DeAngelo Williams, no Tony Romo, and no Maurice Jones-Drew. No Frank Gore, no Chad Pennington, and no Hines Ward? No Rashean Mathis?

No Brandon Jacobs?! That guy is one of the top five or six running backs in the NFL. There are few players I hate facing more than Jacobs.

Come on, Sporting News.

And Michael Vick at No. 88.

No typo.

I don't even know what to think of that. I am an Eagles fan, and I have a problem with that. Michael Vick has not played an NFL down in two seasons, and he is ranked higher than Aaron Rodgers?!

Vick is a backup. His abilities as a quarterback are very limited. I think most people would agree that when he was in the NFL, he was very overrated as a quarterback.

He has not played a snap yet since he became infamous across the nation, and he is ranked higher than a quarterback who did a much better job of replacing a legend than everyone realizes.

You're better than that, Sporting News.

I'm not saying Vick won't be good this season. Maybe he will. Maybe McNabb will go down with an injury, Vick will step in to start, and he'll put together a Pro Bowl season and lead us to the Super Bowl.

But let's wait until he does something on the field before we crown him.

DeAngelo Williams was arguably the best running back not named Adrian Peterson in the NFL last season, and he didn't make the list.

I can't stand Tony Romo. I hate the Dallas Cowboys with a passion, but Romo deserves to be in the top 100. How do you ignore a guy who passed for close to 3,500 yards and 26 touchdowns last year despite missing three games due to injury?

Hines Ward is the textbook example for how to play wide receiver like it is meant to be played—playing aggressive on every play, blocking, and doing whatever it takes to win the game. Chad Pennington almost won the MVP award last season, and Frank Gore rushed for over 1,000 yards without a solid quarterback or offensive line.

And there are those players on the list who are ranked way too high or way too low.

It pains me to say this, because he is my idol, an icon in Philadelphia, a future Hall of Famer, and a seven-time Pro Bowler, but Brian Dawkins does not belong at No. 39 on this list. Not anymore.

I won't argue if you put him in the top 100, but all biases aside, B-Dawk isn't quite as good as his No. 39 ranking indicates.

Calvin Johnson at No. 82 is a joke. That guy is one of the most athletic men to ever play his position and he put up amazing numbers last season, with a quarterback committee that would make any wide receiver cringe.

I think Johnson deserves a spot in the top 20. I wouldn't argue if you put him in the top 10. I wouldn't argue if you put Johnson higher than Fitzgerald. No, Johnson didn't dominate the postseason...but he didn't get the chance.

Phillip Rivers at No. 54 is about 30 spots too low. Patrick Willis at No. 35 could be ranked in the top 10 overall. He is my pick for the Defensive Player of the Year award.

Ryan Clady is No. 92. He is arguably the best offensive lineman in the NFL and allowed exactly half a sack in 620 pass attempts last season. Why is he so low?

Maybe because no one really knows him, and people would rather see names like Vick or Favre.

Steven Jackson at No. 96 is ridiculously low. This is a guy who I believe—if helped by even a solid quarterback and offensive line—could accumulate 2,000 total yards in a season.

There are few players in the league with his combination of size and speed, and the fact that he was able to rush for over 1,000 yards last season with eight total touchdowns, despite missing time to injury, is a testament to his greatness.

Roethlisberger, as I mentioned earlier, is not the third-best quarterback in football, and I feel you could make a case for Brees as one of the top eight or 10 players in the NFL. Other than Brady and Manning, Brees is the best player at the NFL's most important position.

For a magazine I respect so much, I feel Sporting News looks way too much at name and not enough at talent. The writers tend to overrate offensive talent, but underrate defensive talent, as none of the top five players in the league play on the defensive side of the ball.

Games are won and lost in the trenches, but you don't see a lineman until Albert Haynesworth at No. 6 overall and not an offensive lineman until Steve Hutchinson at No. 14.

Again, there are some good solid picks on this list.

But then there are those picks that make me wince out loud—and wonder what makes these experts “experts.”


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