The NFL’s official website has begun the annual ritual of honoring/infuriating its players with its annual Top-100 Players list.
The list, which several Minnesota Vikings players took part in as part of getaway day after their season finale with the Chicago Bears, pays tribute to the players that are deemed as those to watch the following season.
There is an inherent problem with the list, which revealed Nos. 100-81 in countdown fashion and in 10-player installments until the hot days of summer and the final pre-training camp lull kicks in as the league ramps up its season. It is supposed to be something that puts the spotlight on individual players, but often causes more anger than celebration.
If a player has never been on the list, it’s an honor to crack it. Much in the same way it often takes a player putting a couple of years of being worthy of selection to make it, but having to knock out a veteran guy who has proved it over a longer period. There have been a lot of quality left tackles in the AFC over the last decade, but, when Joe Thomas is healthy, he gets picked to the Pro Bowl as the starter. It’s just how it is.
First-timers are always happy to be on the list.
With veterans who have been there and done that, showing up on the list on May 1 is more a slap in the face than a slap on the back.
An alert came out Monday afternoon saying that two Vikings were going to be on the list. NFL.com tricked out the promo by claiming “tantalizing storylines” were forthcoming.
Not so much.
One of the Vikings is a former Viking.
As if Adrian Peterson needed more motivation to make no mistake to all the young’uns in the NFL that the yard is still patrolled by the Big Dog, his inclusion at No. 98 was done purely out of respect. Players have seen this movie before. Every time you count out Peterson, he roars back to prove that he is a first-ballot Hall of Famer by having a big season.
In 2015, coming of his long suspension, Peterson was ranked behind running back Justin Forsett. Within days, he reported to the offseason workouts and went on to win the rushing title. While the same isn’t expected in New Orleans, it will serve as notice that Peterson is back and isn’t done quite yet.
The other Viking was Everson Griffen. For Griffen, it’s a long overdue inclusion on the list. He checked in at No. 92, his first appearance on the list. While it could be argued he should have been higher, making the list for the first time is a solid start and a sign of league-wide recognition of his skills.
Now comes the hard part for the rest of the stars in the league. Did you make the list or not?
If they weren’t named in the first 20 on Monday night, there are only two things that it can mean – they are either ranked higher or didn’t make the list. At some point, it will become obvious, but as things stand, a case can be made that three more Vikings players are going to make the list – Anthony Barr, Linval Joseph and Harrison Smith.
Barr was highlighted last year as the first man out – the 101st player on a 100-player list. Did he show enough last season to move up into the top 80 players? That isn’t a guarantee.
Smith and Joseph are almost locks to make a return to the list and, by getting by the first hurdle, the question is how high they will go. Will they be on the list next week? The week after? The week after that?
Wait and see, because the list is going to drag out for the better part of two months.