Everybody has an opinion. And a top 100.
NFL Network is in the process of revealing a list of the Top 100 current players, as voted on by 413 current players. They were asked to rank their top 20 players, in order, and NFL Films and NFL Network compiled the results, scoring it on a 20-19-18-17-etc. basis. Adding the scores per player is how the Network came up with the top 100.
I've done such a list in the past and thought I would put my 2011 list alongside the players' list. Sunday night was the Network's third show -- with 10 players revealed each week-- so 30 players have been disclosed, 71 through 100. I'll give you my bottom 30 alongside the players' bottom 30 today, and in succeeding weeks I'll give you my weekly 10 compared to theirs.
Some brief thoughts on the 30 choices so far: The players, I believe, underrated a few guys -- Mario Williams (71), LaMarr Woodley (82) and Nick Collins (96) most notably. Terrell Owens (91) could have been on the list three years ago, but certainly not now.
The Network revealed that 12 quarterbacks are on the list, but there's no way Donovan McNabb, based on the 2010 season and his uncertain future, should be the 12th-best quarterback and 100th player here; it seems bizarre that multiple players would choose him as one of the top 20 players in football right now.
I rate players based on impact and ability, obviously, but also on where they are in their careers. You'll be disappointed at how low I have Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu in the coming weeks; not only are they getting up there (Reed turns 33 this year, and Polamalu's 30), but also they've missed too much time in the past couple of years. Polamalu just wasn't the same in the last two months of the 2010 season. So the résumé's big, but players won't be graded on the past alone. Here's the bottom 30 on both lists:
Brother and Child Reunion?
Washington owner Dan Snyder reportedly said on Sirius Radio last week that the 'Skins and Steelers had a deal in place for Washington to trade the 16th overall pick to Pittsburgh for the 31st pick plus other choices ... but the Steelers didn't do the deal when it came time to pull the trigger. Seems the player Pittsburgh wanted was gone by the time the 16th pick rolled around. Hmmm. Sounds like Mike Pouncey. Sounds like the Steelers wanted the Pouncey twins to play center and guard for them for the next decade. Let's do the figuring. Washington traded from 10 to 16 with Jacksonville, so the player Pittsburgh wanted could be only one of six guys -- the six taken from 10 to 15 in the first round. Blaine Gabbert? Nope, not with Ben Roethlisberger on the way to rehabbing his rep. J.J. Watt? Probably not; too much of a pool of good prospects at the position to spend so heavily for one. Christian Ponder? Quarterback. No. Nick Fairley ... now there's a possibility; at 6-4, 291 pounds and quick, he could have seen by Pittsburgh as a long-term bookend for Ziggy Hood in the 3-4 -- though Fairley is not a run-stuffer in the Steeler 3-4 mode. Robert Quinn? Probably not; he's not a 3-4 defensive end, and the need is not there at outside linebacker right now for Pittsburgh. That leaves the 15th pick in the draft -- Steeler center Maurkice Pouncey's identical twin, Mike, chosen by Miami. It would have been a perfect Pittsburgh-like thing to do, something that wouldn't have made a lot of sense to the rest of the league (paying a huge premium to move up in the draft to pick a guard). But the Steelers never mind paying a lot for a sure thing, which so many teams think Mike Pouncey is.
After writing the above early Monday morning, I heard from Redskins general manager Bruce Allen. He denied the original report and said the Steelers never called about the pick. Steelers GM Kevin Colbert, through a spokesperson, corroborated Allen's denial and said talks didn't take place. Also, the writer who first reported the non-trade has issued an apology.
It's climbing time in Africa.
Right around 5 p.m. Eastern time today, 11 men will take the first steps of a long final day toward the summit of 19,314-foot Mount Kilimanjaro on the east coast of Africa. It'll be the fifth day of a climb for former Titans coach Jeff Fisher, former Eagles tight end Chad Lewis and ex-Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi, along with some NFL personnel and four members of the Wounded Warriors.
They'll have about 4,000 feet to climb to get to the top. Now, they all might not make it; Kilimanjaro climbers historically have a 50-percent dropout rate at some point of the trip. But the three NFL folks were a determined lot Sunday as they set up camp for the evening.
I spoke to Bruschi and Lewis by satellite phone. They were walking with two soldiers who'd had legs amputated, one who'd lost an eye, and one with post-traumatic stress disorder. "It's an incredible challenge, obviously,'' said Bruschi. "But I'm watching Wounded Warriors go up this mountain in front of me, and I'm inspired. I've just got to do it.''
At 15,000 feet Sunday, the toughest thing was breathing. "You never think of breathing as being a physical challenge, of course,'' Bruschi said. "But up here it is. You have to focus on every breath, and remind yourself to breathe.'' The test to make it up Kilimanjaro, he said, is "very similar, very similar'' to a football game. "You need 11 guys to win on the goal line,'' he said, "and we need all 11 of us to win here too.''
On the night before the final climb, the team was expected to sleep only two or three hours. "But it's difficult to sleep at altitude, for physiological reasons,'' David Krichavsky of the NFL said in a text message to me this morning. "So our sleep has been restless.''
The three former NFLers are doing this to raise awareness and money for Wounded Warrior Project. You can see their path at www.believeinheroes.org.
Eric Winston's playing weight: 315. Eric Winston's weight Thursday: 315.
Eric Winston, the starting right tackle and co-player rep for the Houston Texans, has been lifting on his own and running three days a week with teammates at Rice University. He'd like to clear one thing up about linemen, and the lockout. You know, the point about how lots of defensive and offensive linemen would gain 75 pounds in a long lockout and come to training camp -- whenever that is -- looking more like beached whales than professional football players.
"Yeah, that stuff about us not being able to police ourselves was a little bit insulting, in a way,'' Winston said. "That perception doesn't give us credit as professionals, and I've got to say it upset me and a few others I've spoken with.''
Point taken -- and Winston's probably right. But it'd take only two or three far-out-of-shape guys on a contender to tilt the scales of competitive balance. Not saying it'll happen if players don't have any organized activities until, say, August. But it could, and if it does, it could have a big impact on a strange 2011 season.
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