Most underrated? Depends on who you ask (and we did)
June 5, 2003
By Jay Glazer
SportsLine.com Senior Writer
un·der·rated tr.v, adj. -- To value below worth.
Perhaps no word in the NFL is more ambiguous than: underrated. Players often question when their names are attached to the label (maybe it tarnishes their star status) yet their agents rely upon the word to extract larger sums in contract talks.
Coaches dread the word for fear that their little overlooked secret will be let out of the bag. Fans? They brandish the word as a weapon when jousting with their cronies regarding the NFL's top players.
Because of the subjective nature of the word, judging the NFL's most underrated player is difficult. But that doesn't mean it isn't worth asking.
Who better to clear this up than the league's head coaches, right? Well, um, not really.
SportsLine.com polled 19 of the league's 32 head coaches and posed the following: Who is the most underrated player in today's NFL?
Our panel is a Whose Who of Those In the Know and included the Broncos' Mike Shanahan, Bucs' Jon Gruden, Steelers' Bill Cowher, Falcons' Dan Reeves, Giants' Jim Fassel, Cardinals' Dave McGinnis, Panthers' John Fox, Saints' Jim Haslett, Chiefs' Dick Vermeil, Bears' Dick Jauron, Miami's Dave Wannstedt, Jets' Herm Edwards, Vikings' Mike Tice, Eagles' Andy Reid, Texans' Dom Capers, Bills' Gregg Williams, Titans' Jeff Fisher, Colts' Tony Dungy and Ravens' Brian Billick. (Most have allowed their names to be attached to their votes, but a couple requested that their choices remain anonymous.)
The answers were predictably unpredictable, especially since several coaches had different definitions of the term "underrated."
For example, some believed the answer should be a player who never made a Pro Bowl. Others answered with a name that has made it to Hawaii but is still overshadowed by bigger names. Others went even further, selecting a player who has star power but still not equal to their actual worth.
The answers also ranged from kicker to quarterback, and surprisingly, just three defensive players were named.
The informal poll was conducted without the intent of tabbing one particular player. Instead, the idea was to gather a sense of who these coaches think are overlooked on Sundays. But after tabulating the votes, one player emerged more than the others. Considering how many players there were for our coaches to randomly choose from (they were not given a list of names or other coaches' votes), getting the three winning votes is quite impressive.
So who is this overlooked gridiron soldier?