Is Aaron Rodgers the best player in football?
They've become a recent trend for entities that cover sports, largely to help ignite discussion and perhaps a little controversy. Usually the list is formed by a writer, or panel of writers, that will lay out their credentials and why they're qualified to make such a list.
One such arrangement on CBSSports.com put Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers at the top.
Number one. Best player in football.
Now, Rodgers is the reigning Most Valuable Player of the NFL, and the Packers are coming off a 15-1 regular season.
Yet MVP and "best player" are two different things. The best player can be the MVP, but the MVP isn't necessarily the best player.
This is the case with Rodgers.
Unlike any other sport on the planet, players who wear helmets and pads are so reliant on the other 10 men on the field that it's hard to discern who is the true, "best" player. All have different skill sets, all are asked to do different things.
If one man breaks down, all 10 can be affected.
This is especially true at quarterback. A lineman or running back or tight end misses a block. Done. A receiver runs the wrong route, or falls down? Done.
A quarterback as most valuable? Undoubtedly.
As the best? Almost never.
They need to know a lot, digest a lot, and be able to make quick decisions. But they don't necessarily have to have the best accuracy, or proper mechanics, or a whole lot of athleticism, to be effective – if not very good.
And, depending on the offense, they hand the ball to someone else 15 to 30 times a game.
I'm not saying quarterbacks are like kickers, but the league is moving them in that direction.
To me, the best players are those having to play on every down.
That said, I'd eliminate all receivers from this discussion as well, since they are solely reliant on the quarterback delivering them the ball.
I'd eliminate running backs who don't usually come off the field on third down, or who aren't good enough to be out there on first and second.
Who does that leave?
I'm looking at the offensive linemen (yes, offensive linemen) the dual-threat, freakishly athletic tight ends and every-down running backs that are expected to run, catch and block. I'm looking at the defensive linemen, linebackers and players in the starting secondary (no nickel backs, please).
These guys hardly leave the field, and are counted on to produce in every scenario.
This is all subjective of course. I value Julius Peppers more than say, DeMarcus Ware because I feel Peppers is more versatile as a defensive end than Ware is as a predominantly rush linebacker.
What makes football – and football lists – great is that you can break it down by position. With Peyton Manning being injured, Rodgers is clearly the best quarterback in football. And in 2011, he was without question its most valuable player.
Yet I'd have a hard time telling you he's a better player than Charles Woodson or Josh Sitton (yes, Josh Sitton). I just can't.
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