Column: NFL Network player rankings are irrelevant
Oct 20, 2013; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) warms up before game against the Cleveland Browns at Lambeau Field. Image by Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
I’m sure by now, many Packers fans have heard that quarterback Aaron Rodgers was ranked as the 11th best player in the league for 2014 by the NFL Network.
As soon as that poll was released, the internet exploded with a combination of rage, skepticism, laughter, consternation, and head scratching.
I’m indifferent. Frankly, I don’t care. I hope that you don’t care, either.
Consider the source: the NFL Network. Their job is to promote the league, garner interest, and get fans involved year-round.
The NFL is no longer just a five-month affair. It’s a billion dollar enterprise that runs twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and twelve months a year.
In order to sustain interest over twelve months with justa five-month calendar of games, the NFL needs fan interest. They need the fans to talk. They need the fans to assemble on the internet and throw hashtags, URLs, and Twitter handles everywhere.
They need writers like me to discuss the game and the fan experience, and the irony of this specific article is not lost on me.
That’s abundant and inexpensive promotion. It’s what makes the NFL run. It’s why fans fill stadiums and advertisers buy slots on TV, radio, podcasts, and on web pages.
The NFL sure gave fans something to talk about by ranking Aaron Rodgers as No. 11. From their perspective, it’s mission accomplished.
Despite all of the hype, games are won on the field. They aren’t won on draft day or during the free agent frenzy. They aren’t won during OTAs or mini-camps. They aren’t won on paper.
Yet, fans flock to their TVs to watch the draft, which is now a three-day primetime event. Fans gobble up free agency reports and try to squeeze every bit of information trickling out of OTAs and mini-camps.
It’s currently the lull of the NFL year. The players and coaches aren’t permitted contact with each other until training camp starts at the end of this month. There isn’t much going on in terms of league activities.
In other words, it’s a slow news day.
If things go to script, few are shocked and few talk. Predictability is boring. Many love the underdog and cinderella story. Others like to see the giants fall.
It’s good entertainment.
So, is Aaron Rodgers the 11th best player in the NFL? Of course not. Is the ranking absurd? Probably.
It doesn’t matter.
Games aren’t won because of NFL Network rankings. They aren’t won because of popularity contests.
Despite our endless debates on who’s the best, it has absolutely no impact on who wins and who loses games.
All you need to do is remember the 2010 season. Aaron Rodgers wasn’t even named to the Pro Bowl.
He was, however, named Super Bowl XLV Most Valuable Player en route to a 31-25 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Perhaps flying under the radar suits Aaron Rodgers and the Packers well. He admits that he has a chip on his shoulder that serves as motivation.
The NFL Network’s poll certainly causes me no grief. Put the rankings aside and buckle in for some football that’s about to start.
I’m expecting some fireworks on the field this season. Snubs tend to put a little more chip on that shoulder.