Greetings, fellow weary 2020-ites. We come in peace, and to attempt to distract you from the daily doom and gloom with a little levity and a lot of hot air. We’ve put together a crack committee of five EXPERTS (looks around to see if anyone calls him on that, realizes he’s not in an office and there is no one there, realizes interpersonal communication is a dying art these days, realizes he is looking at his dog for a reaction, realizes nothing is real anymore and he can say anything he wants to and there are no consequences because that’s what his government has taught him for four years ... returns to writing his sentence) — EXPERTS, I SAY! [dog cocks head] — to argue the most over and underrated players in the NFL since 1990, the final league of the big four to receive this treatment.
Today we begin with overrated. These players represent to us the pinnacle of uninformed groupthink: “OH, THAT GUY IS THE BEST!” when indeed that guy is not the best nor anywhere near such thing. You’re gonna recognize nearly every name instantaneously and have an opinion on them within .7 seconds, because you’ve been brainwashed to think that way about them. You’ve had it drilled into you that we need to respect these players because of their inherent value, when really a lot of them are ham-and-eggers who turned a little good press into an image.
We’re here to tear that facade down.
The entire Deadspin staff submitted nominations. Our crack committee will argue the results and dub one player/coach in each position as Mr. Over/Underrated. You will then disagree if it’s a player you really like and yell at your computer or phone imagining you are yelling at us. We can take it. It’s all in good fun. Remember the fun? Does anybody remember laughter?
So … now then … join us, won’t you?
Rich O’Malley: We are going to begin with me asking for ONE player in ANY position who is your MOST overrated. JUST give me a name — don’t start arguing yet!
Dustin Foote: Marvin Lewis, coach
Donovan Dooley: Josh Norman, corner
Carron Phillips: Eli, QB
DeArbea Walker: Jason Witten, TE
Rich: And I’ll go Shockey, TE
So … given that list, let’s jump first to quarterback. One of the primo positions in sports. Carron — you have the floor. Why is Eli your number one? And don’t just say bc he beat the Pats twice, so you think he is a very bad man.
[Lol “several people are typing” is my favorite Slack alert. This should be good. Here we go …]
Carron: If Eli’s last name wasn’t Manning, then you couldn’t tell me that a QB with a .500 record as a starter would be in the HOF discussion. I get that he has 2 chips. And he beat the best team ever, but the Giants winning that Super Bowl had ZERO to do with him. I think Eli was a really good/solid QB in a place where it’s hard to be that. But I’m taking Phil Simms If i have to pick a Giants QB, any day over him.
Donovan: I think most people know Eli is trash, it’s just when you beat the greatest ever twice on the biggest stage following legitimate playoff runs, it’s hard to argue against that.
The problem with Eli and the HOF discussion is simply based on the fact people like Joe Namath are in the Hall
DeArbea Walker: Ya, Eli is not that great but he is still a Hall of Famer, come on
Carron: Joe Namath is a god, tho
Donovan: Namath’s stats were terrible! And so was his record
Dustin: I think Eli is outrageously overrated too and I’m a Giants fan.
Carron: But still, no one has ever done what Namath’s done: He literally made the most famous position in sports….sexy
Donovan: Namath’s in the Hall strictly off one game ... why can’t Eli be in off two games?
Carron: Because Joe won that game. Eli didn’t
Rich: Matt Snell would like a word
Carron: If you can wear white furs, do cocaine, sleep with models, and guarantee a Super Bowl victory while lounging …. u deserve to be in the HOF
Rich: Aaaaand we need to find the B’way Joe in pantyhose commercial to insert here:
Rich: BUT … Namath doesn’t fit our time frame anyway. So …
Carron: Eli Manning winning 2 Super Bowls is like when Trent Dilfer won one … it wasn’t because of Dilfer, just like it wasn’t because of Eli
Donovan: “Wasn’t because of Eli” is mad debatable
Rich: I mean he put that ball RIGHT on Tyree’s helmet lol
Eric Barrow: Just going to step in here quick to defend Eli.
Five playoff wins on the road…two at Lambeau.
And his throw to Mario Manningham in Super Bowl 46 was one of the biggest big-time throws in Super Bowl history.
Dustin: This is exactly what makes him overrated! Y’all are forgetting the HUNDREDS of ints he threw
Carron: 5 playoff wins on the road ... 3 of them came when he played on a team that carried his mediocre ass
Dustin: And he was really a below-average QB for most of his career
Rich: Here are the other nominees from our ballots: Brady, Big Ben, Matt Ryan. A couple of others at Deadspin gave Favre a nod. How does Eli compare to any of them? And are all of them HOFers even if you think overrated?
Carron: Everybody on that list would run Eli off the field
Rich: Can’t say I disagree
Donovan: Y’all are acting like people don’t KNOW Eli is mediocre at best though?? So how is he overrated if everyone knows that. Two things can obviously be true, with Namath as the precedent.
You can be mediocre as a QB and get in the Hall of Fame based solely off a few moments in your career
Carron: Because mediocre at best doesn’t belong in THE HALL OF FAME
DeArbea: That’s an indictment on the Hall of Fame
Rich: Not the only sport with that problem
Carron: Also, at the time Joe got in……standards and records were wayyyyy different
We can’t hold Joe to Brady-like standards. Different time. Different game.
Rich: Donovan you had Matty Ice. Why?
Carron: Matt Ryan is trash, too
Donovan: I believe that many people try to put Matt Ryan in that category with elite QBs in the game and they force that narrative on him. But elite QBs can’t have the amount of talent he’s had around him in Atlanta over the years and the best result they got is a 25-point meltdown on the biggest stage in the world
Rich: That meltdown was so epic it topped our list of worst sports heartbreaks
OK, let’s think about it this way: If we were to make a list of the Top 10-15 QBs of all time, would any of the names (forget Namath) above appear on most lists?
I know one would. Brady. So De, why was he yours?
Carron: GREAT QUESTION
Dustin: That’s a take
Carron: Since u wanna come at WHITE JESUS!!!!!!!
Carron: The only player with SIX SUPER BOWL RINGS
Rich: I will admit this is not gonna be an easy justification for ya!
DeArbea: I wasn’t on the Brady is overrated train until recently. Not saying he isn’t great, but with how well Matt Cassel did in that system in 2008, and now Cam, I mean should Brady be on this pedestal? I get the six rings, but I’m just looking at results across the board.
Carron: Who has more comebacks?
DeArbea: The system!
Carron: Who puts more fear in defenses?… nobody
Dustin: The Cassel system did not get them to the playoffs!
Carron: Pat Mahomes never beat him ….
And they had a home game and couldn’t do it
Dustin: Overtime rules. Pat didn’t get a chance, to be fair
DeArbea: They still went 11-5
Carron: Ain’t our fault we draft good players
DeArbea: Cassel is a good player?
Carron: What Cassell had around him? Cassell was solid
Dustin: The year before they went 16-0!
Donovan: Remember Jacoby Brissett in the Belichick system too....
Donovan: Played really well
Carron: Imagine if Brady had the offensive talent Matt Ryan did … I’ll just leave this here
Rich: I went with Roethl... oh the hell with that, Big Ben. I compared his numbers to a few other contemporary QBs and he just came in shy of them in a lot of the categories. Plus the Steelers almost always smothered with D (almost). So I knocked him down a peg for the ring.
Donovan: Reports also said he was a horrible team leader
DeArbea: Ya Big ben has had that stigma for most of his career
Final Q on QBs: If Eli Manning wouldn’t appear on most Top 10 lists, CAN he be “overrated?”
Dustin: Of course
Rich: Or is he just disliked because of resting brat face?
Donovan: EXACTLY MY POINT ABOUT ELI
Dustin: He will be in the Hall of Fame
With a career .500 record
Donovan: No one thinks he’s good, how can he be overrated?
Rich: But if we establish that there are non-worthy players in the Hall …
Donovan: Thank you Rich
DeArbea: Ya, Big Ben sadly will be in there even those he has spent the last decade with an abysmal record
Rich: Alright, vote time: Who of the five gets tagged? Anyone change their mind?
I’m sticking with Ben, because he might appear on a few Top 10/15 lists
Donovan: I’m going Matt Ryan
Dustin: We are not the ones casting HOF votes, we’ll comment on them
Carron: “I said, what I said” - (NeNe Leakes Voice)
Rich: OK De, tiebreaker vote, it’s time to call it between Brady/Eli
DeArbea: Sticking to mine as well
Carron: Get Eli ass up outta here
Rich: It’s a five-way tie. I need to rule:
The unmatched vitriol gives the award to ... Eli.
Look at gawd!
Rich: Let it be noted for the record that Dustin responded to the Eli ruling with a [checks notes ...] “parrot rolling its head around” emoji! (Ed. note: TIL there is, apparently, an entire genre of “party parrots” — RO)
NEXT! RUNNING BACKS
RB: Chris Johnson, Melvin Gordon, Marshall Faulk, Ladanian Tomlinson, Adrian Peterson, Ezekiel Elliott, are the nominees
Sorry Zeke was Jesse Spector’s pick and he’s not here to argue it, but we can.
Donovan: I’m willing to be persuaded on this one
Carron: Damn…this is gonna be so mean
Zeke…it’s gotta be Zeke
Rich: You voted for Tomlinson tho!
Carron: I know
But this wasn’t the list then lol
Donovan: I’m not mad at a Zeke selection — what has he done the last few years that Austin Ekeler hasn’t?
Rich: Damn! Eric had Emmitt Smith!
Carron: I’m with Eric on Emmitt ....
EB: The Fridge could’ve run through the holes he had!
Rich: I went Faulk, just again comparing him to others who played around the same time for the same amount of time and didn’t get the same numbers. But I’m starting to head toward Zeke too. Jesse’s nominee may be our dark horse!
Dustin: Zeke has had three seasons +1000 yds. Gordon has 1 ...
Donovan: Outside of the rookie year, he’s just been another “good back” that you can get in the second or third round
Rich: Well then we have an easy quorum. NO MORE BETS. Window’s closed. Poor Zeke stuck his head in the room because I copy/pasted too many names and he gets it lopped off!
Alright on to WR and I’ll just throw everyone’s votes in now since we’ve already had a wild card:
WR: Odell Beckham, Wes Welker, Brandon Marshall, Beckham, Beckham, Michael Irvin, Victor Cruz, Wes Welker, Beckham
FOUR OBJ votes! Are we done here?
Dustin: One more time for OBJ?
Donovan: Fine by me
DeArbea: Yep fine with me
Rich: Lol dude makes otherworldly catches and we’re like, “Nah, we good: It you.”
Rich: I wouldn’t argue Cruz either
DeArbea: In Cleveland OBJ has been horrible though
Donovan: OBJ talent hasn’t matched production for me
Carron: I saw OBJ play in person, and it blew my mind. I really want that dude to play with a competent QB.
Rich: But no one is changing enough minds to top poor OBJ so ... NEXT! (Ed. note: Yes, this discussion took place BEFORE this! But we’re sticking with it — RO)
Tight end: Jeremy Shockey, Shockey, Travis Kelce, Shockey, Shockey, Jimmy Graham, Jason Witten, Witten
Four Shockeys! Two Wittens. I had Witten as my underrated. That’s football, Suzyn!
Is this another blowout?
Carron: Damn, what Shockey do to y’all?
Dustin: Picking up a disgruntled NY football fan vibe ...
Rich: I’m a Jets fan. I just always thought he was WAY too fawned over
Donovan: I think he’s the best option to go with
Rich: Agree, doesn’t seem much argument against.
O-line: Nate Newton, Nate Solder, Nate Solder Bruce Matthews, Mike Webster
Not a ton of nominees in this one! Everyone punted!
Donovan, Dustin ... go. You both had Solder
Dustin: He was anointed as the savior of the Giants’ line last year and just had a bad year. Overrated and overpaid
Donovan: Drafted in the first round as a lineman and never made a Pro Bowl
Rich: Soooo … we are basically gonna have a team of guys primarily associated with the Giants. As a Jets fan, I approve this message. Great job. Done.
Rich: Speaking of G-Men …
D-line: Michael Strahan, Warren Sapp, Suh, JJ Watt, Suh, Suh, Suh, Watt
Four for Suh. Anyone say nay?
DeArbea: Wow not Michael Strahan! I’m with SUH
Rich: Strahan a better lineman or TV host?
DeArbea: Strahan’s probable a better TV host, but I didn’t think he was that bad as a player
Donovan: Suh isn’t a bad pick, he’s most known for stomping on people now and not his play
Dustin: In defense of Suh, this is his 10th year and he has never missed a start.
Suh is a three-time first-team All-Pro, five-time Pro Bowler
Donovan: Strahan was actually a good DE
Rich: That one was pretty clear: Suh it is. This next one should generate some chatter:
Linebacker: Ray Lewis, Lewis, Lewis, Shawn Merriman, Brian Urlacher, Ray Lewis, Urlacher, Urlacher, Merriman
4 lewis, 3 urlacher, 2 merriman
DeArbea: Ray Lewis?
Urlacher for sure.
Rich: Of just our group of five here, Urlacher would win
Carron: Look, I lived in Atlanta….twice….Ray killed that man. I can’t stand him. But he was a helluva linebacker.
Urlacher racist ass gotta go
Rich: Boy, bye! K then … cornerbacks … hey, look: Another Giant!
CB: Josh Norman, Champ Bailey, Norman, Norman, Norman, Ronde Barber, Norman, Richard Sherman, Jason Sehorn
Carron: Bye Josh
Rich: Yeah, this seems … like blowout city. Anyone wanna give a good reason he was on their list?
Donovan: Josh Norman can’t guard a soul in man-to-man
Rich: There’s one!
Carron: Jason Sehorn broke racial boundaries …. even though he used to get burnt all the time LOL
Rich: Yeah, he always got a lot of love thrown at him just for that reason. And marrying Angie Harmon.
DeArbea: Josh Norman can’t play man-to-man so, ya, he has gotta go. The attention he got is for no reason. I’m fine with Norman.
Carron: I’ll take Josh in a Cover 3, tho LOL
Donovan: Oh he can play Zone
He can guard grass exquisitely
Rich: De, you took Sherman. Why?
DeArbea: Just looking at the pieces between him, Earl and Kam. He got a bulk of the attention in Seattle and didn’t think he deserved it. That’s all. He isn’t bad, but Thomas was a key reason why their secondary was that great.
Rich: OK ...
Safety: Jon Lynch, Troy Polamalu, Earl Thomas, Ryan Clark, Lynch, Clark, Jamal Adams
2 votes in our group for Clark. De and Dustin, how come?
Carron: Ryan Clark
Rich: Ah, we have a previous no-vote moving to Clark: That’s three!
Dustin: The dude’s on TV all the time and has made one Pro Bowl!
DeArbea: He was overrated.
Carron: He just doesn’t belong with the rest on this list
Rich: Moving on to kicker:
K: Stephen Gostkowski, Gary Anderson, Stephen Gostkowski, Jay Feely, Morton Anderson, Janikowski, Gostkowski, Gostkowski
Rich: Gostkowski is my under-rated kicker, yet here he is on a million ballots, wth?
Dustin: Feely is the only special teams analyst on TV and is, statistically, far from the best. Can someone get Vinatieri to call games?
Donovan: I’m willing to sway my vote on kicker
Rich: Gost is Top 7 all-time in FG%! The others on this list at 30, 50, 55 & 62. Come on, now, what gives, this is nuts? not to mention SB wins, which no one else on this list has. What’s the possible argument for Gost? I can’t believe I’m summoning the most outrage over a dang kicker!
Dustin: Did you see him week one?
Not switching my vote, just saying there may be some recency bias.
Rich: Did I see him week one?! Of this bizarro season? Did you see all the Super Bowls when he didn’t miss a field goal?! OK, I am finally outraged at one of these things — and it’s a bloody kicker! Five demerits to you all.
Final vote, go: I’m sticking with Morton
Donovan: Janikowski strictly ’cause of his time in Oakland
Rich: Ha! so that’s two votes and that’s enough here to make Sebastian our last-second winner!
And finally ... who’s their coach?
Coach: Mike Ditka, Mike Martz, Ditka, Jon Gruden, Marvin Lewis, Mike McCarthy, Gruden, McCarthy, Sean McVay
Rich: That’s a lot of … Ditka.
Dustin: Marvin Lewis coached 16 years in the league. He had six winning seasons and never won a playoff game. The other coaches my colleagues suggested have all been to or won a Super Bowl. Lewis had a loooong coaching career, he was treated like a championship-winning coach by the bengals and really came out of. There without any hardware.
DeArbea: Sticking with Mike McCarthy
Donovan: I’ve never seen someone get more clout for one Super Bowl than Gruden
Rich: In our group it was 2 Grudens 2 McCarthys and 1 Lewis
Dustin: Marvin Lewis never won a playoff game and he’s coached LONGER than Gruden
Rich: That is a very fair knock
Donovan: But Marvin Lewis is not perceived as a good coach
Dustin: He was treated like one
DeArbea: Ya Marvin is not looked at as a good coach
Dustin: Says who? He coached for the same team for 16 years! Someone must’ve liked him.
Donovan: That’s cause the Bengals are an atrociously run organization
Dustin: You don’t think the coach is a part of that?
Donovan: Marvin was horrible don’t get me wrong .. but he wasn’t overrated
Rich: I am really torn on where I land here, but I’m def switching my vote. And I think beyond Cincy, Lewis wasn’t really talked up much, more maligned really ... So I too am gonna go with … Gruden, sealing his fate.
Rich: Alright that wraps up overrated! Any final thoughts? THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU’VE DONE!
Donovan: I can sleep good at night with our overrated selections
Rich: My final thought is … dude beats the most hated team in America TWICE including ruining their perfect season yet DAYUM people still hate Eli!
Thanks for joining us. See you tomorrow with our UNDERrated debate.
(This transcript was lightly edited for clarity. It was … extra ... in there at times!)