Since 2010, NFL Network has been presenting an annual ten-part special based on a list of the “Top 100 Players” according to votes from active NFL players. The yearly foray into discovering which NFL players are the best based on their peers doubles as multiple programming content opportunities for NFLN, mostly during the period between the NFL Draft and the start of training camps. For instance, while a “Top 100” countdown is in progress during the ten-week period, you’ll notice that the “NFL Total Access” crew will devote a segment or two to the list, either speculating how high a player would rank or how many players at a particular position would make the list, or reaction to the player rankings unveiled in the most recent installment.
You can bet your bottom dollar that “NFL AM,” the network’s new morning show which debuts in one week, will be in full swing debating the “Top 100 Players Of 2013” list next spring.
And has anyone noticed how each year, right after the countdown wraps up in late June or early July, there’s an all-day “Top 100 Players” marathon on the Fourth of July?
Like I said: multiple programming content opportunities.
Opportunities that even arise weeks after the complete list has been revealed.
On Friday, July 20, “NFL Total Access” conducted an interview with Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, via satellite from South Lake Tahoe, NV, where he would be participating in a golf tournament. And suffice it to say, over one-third of this three-minute interview focused on how Romo ranked on the “Top 100 Players Of 2012” list: out of thirteen quarterbacks that made this year’s list, Romo was ranked 91st overall, leading only Broncos-cum-Jets QB Tim Tebow (95) among other players at his position.
Host Andrew Siciliano prefaced soliciting Romo’s reaction to his ranking by playing video of NFLN analyst Marshall Faulk’s reaction to Romo’s ranking, originally broadcast on April 28: “I’m tough on Tony Romo. I believe that when I watch this guy play, the skill set that he has, the talent that he is, he’s sometimes disappointing. But to say that he’s number… (looks down, reads the ranking on the list) 91 of the top 100 players of our league is just doing him a discredit. I mean, this guy is, is, is really darn good.”
Siciliano: “Are you offended? Number 91?”
Romo: “No, I mean… The reality of that, I talked to [Cowboys tight end] Jason Witten, [Cowboys wide receiver] Miles Austin, about five other guys, and I was like, ‘Who votes on this stuff? I thought it was the players.’ And I didn’t vote, Jason didn’t vote, Miles didn’t vote, so… I don’t even put my stock into any of that stuff, it’s just… you get a couple of guys, and, you know, they throw numbers around… That stuff changes every year, anyway. You go and you win a Super Bowl, you go and play well, you know, that stuff just takes care of itself. It always goes by what you did the last season.”
It was at that point that Siciliano wrapped up the “Top 100 Players” content opportunity portion of the interview by noting that Giants quarterback Eli Manning, whose team did win the Super Bowl earlier this year, ranked 31st overall.
Oddly, Siciliano neglected to mention that Manning didn’t even make the list in 2011.
Based on Romo’s comments, though, it sounds like he’s more or less mocking the whole “Top 100 Players” routine in general. I would love to be a fly on the wall in the NFLN producers’ room upon Romo effectively trashing the “Top 100” list as “a couple of guys” that “throw numbers around.” Last I checked, the list was based on votes from more than just “a couple of guys.”
Of course, the fact that Romo admitted that several Cowboys players, himself included, failed to cast their votes for the 2012 version of the “Top 100 Players” list explains why Romo’s 91st place ranking this year was lower than his position on last year’s list (72nd), despite missing over half of the previous season due to a collarbone injury. So, in Romo’s own case, at least, his ranking did not necessarily fall in line with “what you did the last season.”
Then again, one of the thirteen quarterbacks that made the “Top 100 Players Of 2012” list, Peyton Manning, finished right in the middle at No. 50, despite not playing a single snap the previous season due to a neck injury. Maybe Manning’s peers’ votes are based on respect, or perhaps a testament to how bad his Colts team performed as a result of him being on the sidelines. But when your brother wins a Super Bowl, and is only positioned nineteen spots ahead of you on the list that year, something probably doesn’t add up.
Hence one of the reasons this list is put out each year: it’s fodder for debate – debate that will largely take place on NFL Network’s studio shows, even with the players themselves.
Indeed, when NFLN approached Giants defensive end Justin Tuck for his thoughts on his quarterback’s placement on this year’s “Top 100” list following his leading the team to a Super Bowl victory, he dismissed it as “a joke.”
Don’t be surprised if Manning himself is inquired about his ranking on the list, should he make his first appearance on “NFL AM” or “NFL Total Access” after earning his second Super Bowl ring.
And don’t be surprised if Eli Manning shares the same stance as his teammate Justin Tuck – as well as his divisional counterpart, Tony Romo.
Our advice to NFL Network staffers if Eli also writes off your “Top 100 Players” list as “a couple of guys throwing numbers around”: Don’t have a cow, man.