Eli Manning will be playing for his second Super Bowl victory. Not bad for a player who didn't even make the "Top 100 Players" list that came out the year before. In fairness, Tom Brady was ranked No. 1 overall on the list, which was also turned into a ten-hour event on NFL Network last year.
We are at the dawning of what is known as Super Bowl Week – the six-and-a-half-day pre-game to the Big Game, where any and all amounts of parallels are made for the teams contending in the Super Bowl, as well as their players, amid the large amounts of hype being dished out to hungry sports media scribes.
You’ve been hearing about the usual Super Bowl XLII comparisons.
You’ve been hearing about how Eli Manning could win his second Super Bowl championship, which would give him twice as many titles as his big brother, Peyton.
And you’ve been hearing about how Eli could be taking care of business at the site of this year’s Super Bowl, Lucas Oil Field – which just so happens to be the home football stadium of his big brother, Peyton (although Peyton’s renewal of that lease is currently up in the air at the moment – possibly about three months’ worth of moments – thereby creating another subplot for this year’s Super Bowl).
But because there can be no shortage of talking points for Super Bowl Week, allow me to throw another slab of red meat into the mix – by reverting to the “Top 100 Players Of 2011” list. You remember this list: It was compiled based on votes from actual NFL players, and doubled as a ten-hour event on NFL Network airing in the spring of 2011, culminating on Fourth of July Weekend – and had an NFL lockout continued, no doubt would have been repeated dozens upon dozens of times this past fall.
Of the top 100 players voted by their peers, 12 of them were quarterbacks, and of these dozen QB’s, only half of their respective teams qualified for the 2011-12 NFL playoffs.
Of course, Tom Brady was ranked number one; he was among five Patriots players (defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, 35; guard Logan Mankins, 39; wide receiver Wes Welker, 50; linebacker Jerod Mayo, 62) that made the list. And there were only three Giants players that qualified for the list, and all of them were ranked in the bottom half of the Top 100 (defensive end Justin Tuck, 60; safety Antrel Rolle, 68; guard Chris Snee, 77).
That’s not a misprint. Eli Manning, who owns more Lombardi trophies than over half of the other quarterbacks that made the Top 100 list, and is about to embark on his quest for yet another one, is absent from this list.
Granted, “The Top 100 Players Of 2011,” as its title indicates, is based on the performance of the previous season by players on the list therein: the 10-6 Giants, for which Eli Manning had a touchdown-interception radio of 31:25, failed to make the playoffs; meanwhile, quarterbacks representing four of the teams that qualified for the 2010-11 NFL playoffs – Bears, Chiefs and Seahawks, all of whom won their respective divisions, as well as the other NFL franchise in New York, the Jets – didn’t make the cut.
Heck, if you wanted any indication that this Top 100 list wasn’t based on this year, I can sum it up in two words: Donovan McNabb. Yep, when this list was compiled, he had come off of his lone season with the Washington Redskins – a season in which he had more interceptions (15) than touchdowns (14). Yet, he just cracked the list, coming in at number 100.
McNabb wouldn’t even complete 100 passes (94) in his short tenure with the Minnesota Vikings the following season.
Now, some have argued whether or not any of the canonical list of Top 10 lists and Top 100 lists and Top 500 lists compiled over the years, in fields ranging from sports to spores, render any value whatsoever.
However, to say that this “Top 100 Players Of 2011” list is meaningless, especially vis a vis the results and ensuing Super Bowl matchup of the 2011-12 season, would be an insult to the NFL players whose input made this list possible in the first place.
I mean, you can’t blame the NFL players for not foreseeing that just six of the twelve quarterbacks they decided on (Brady; Drew Brees, 9; Aaron Rodgers, 11; Ben Roethlisberger, 41; Matt Ryan, 52; Joe Flacco, 90) would advance to the playoffs the following year, let alone one of the three quarterbacks in the top ten (that would be Peyton Manning, ranked second overall) not even playing a single snap. Or that Michael Vick (number 20 on the list), Philip Rivers (26) and Tony Romo (72) would just miss the playoffs. Or that the Buccaneers, led by Josh Freeman (86), would end the 2011 campaign on a ten-game losing streak. Or that McNabb would have an even worse season that the year before.
This much is certain: Regardless of the outcome of Super Bowl XLVI, Eli Manning will be a lock to make the top 20, when the NFL players put together their “Top 100 Players Of 2012” list, should one be compiled.
You can also figure twice as many Giants players that made the list in 2011, would factor into the 2012 version.
And you can bet that when these players are asked to come up with those worthy of making the 2012 Top 100 list, and such lists for years to come, Donovan McNabb will not even cross any of their minds.
Oh, and you can also guarantee that Tim Tebow will be ranked pretty high on the list, as well.
Though, give the players credit: one of the quarterbacks playing in this year’s Super Bowl just happened to be named the number one player on the “Top 100 Players Of 2011” list. Not too shabby.
The other quarterback? Nowhere to be found.
And if said other quarterback wins Super Bowl XLVI? Well, forget about Peyton Manning and the future of the Indianapolis Colts – it’s time to flip the script on these lists.