Number 4 on the list - but number 1 at life. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)
Number 4? Really, guys?
When Tom Brady came in at number 4 behind Calvin Johnson in last night's finale of the NFL Network's "Top 100 Players of 2012," I went through a whole range of emotions. The first, of course, was terror: I had made a Patriots-related prediction, and I was shockingly accurate. That just doesn't happen; none of my Patriots predictions are ever even remotely close to what actually happens. It would have scared the pants off of me - had I been wearing pants at the time.
But once I settled down and realized that the zombie apocalypse was not in fact upon us, I joined the rest of Patriots Nation (and a fair number of analysts on NFL Network, apparently) in feeling angry and short-changed about Brady dropping three spots on the countdown from last year. I absolutely love Calvin Johnson, and think that he had one helluva season, but to rank him above Tommy B, who came within one dropped pass of taking his team to a World Championship in spite of one of the league's worst defenses and cementing himself as the greatest quarterback to ever play the game, is just plain silly. It didn't take long for the message boards to light up, reaction articles to emerge, and on-air arguments to ensue.
And that's when I experienced my third emotion of the night - total and utter calmness.
I mean let's think about this for a second. If, at the end of every installment of the "Top 100," all you really had to say was "makes sense to me," then watching this list wouldn't have been remotely as fun. Lists like these are designed to spark conversation, generate debate, and rile up the seemingly un-rile-uppable. How much fun is it to scream out "Oh come on!" or "what?! Are you kidding me?!!" when you see a player ranked way too low or way too high? And how many people nationwide had Brady, Brees, and Rodgers as 1,2, and 3 in some order or other back when they were still revealing numbers 100-91? Putting Johnson at 3 was just smart television. It was a nice wrench to throw in the works and is far more likely to keep discussion going than the debate that would have ensued over which of the top 3 QBs truly deserved the #1 slot. And yes, I know the Top 100 was voted for by the players, but anyone who thinks that the numbers weren't tweaked just a bit by the studio executives to make the list more interesting probably also thinks that reality television isn't scripted and that any celebrity sex tape currently available was "leaked."
So, we may not like it, but we sure as hell like to stamp our feet and talk about what a travesty it is. And I know that one of the first things I thought of once I found out was "man, Brady isn't gonna like this. I hope he comes out of the gate firing on all cylinders and makes everyone pay for ranking him so low." And that got me even more excited than I already am about the upcoming season.
Mission accomplished, NFL Network. Well done.