The silly season of the NFL calendar has finally descended, that black part of the NFL year between the last meaningful mini-camp and the opening of training camp. In other words, it's that time of year when the Raiders are still in playoff contention. When Randy Moss is still a model citizen, Warren Sapp is merely fat, and this year is truly going to be the year that Kerry Collins stops acting like, well, Kerry Collins.
It is also a good time of year to engage in bar-room arguments that have little chance of ever being settled. Who is the most overrated team in the NFL? Who is the most underrated quarterback? The Hater Nation has its opinions in our annual "Who is the most overrated/underrated in the NFL?"
Besides, what else are we supposed to talk about this time of year? The Major League baseball All-Star game?
Most overrated boast: The Raiders most dominant team of the decades, 1963-2003, omit 1987, but double the good years, blah, blah, blah. The Raiders list is convenient, but not really that telling. The Raiders have won only three Super Bowls during those decades, while other teams, the 49ers, Cowboys, Steelers, Redskins, and Patriots have won more or just as many. The Steelers and Patriots are real AFC dynasties compared to the Raiders.
Most underrated boast: The Bills four consecutive Super Bowl losses. This does not get enough play. Do you realize who hard it is to be just good enough to reach the Super Bowl, but bad enough to lose in spectacular fashion? The Bills managed to lose a Super Bowl in four different fashions from the heart breaker (Giants), the bizarre (Thurman Thomas lost his helmet), the good old fashion blowout (Dallas Part I), and the "They can't lose it again, can they?" (Dallas Part II).
Most overrated member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame: Marcus Allen. The former USC start surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark three times in his NFL career. But the media liked him (for reasons unknown) and that's good enough to get elected into the Hall of Fame (so maybe there is hope for Tim Brown). Allen was able to hang around the NFL longer than most backs because he was a second-string player for the Raiders. He allowed bigger backs to do the "heavy lifting" between the 20s, then Allen was inserted into the lineup for the cheap touchdown plunge at the goal line.
Most underrated member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame: Don Hutson (pictured at top). The former Packers star held every receiving record forever, played defense, but hardly gets mention of being one of the greatest players ever.
Which he was.
Most overrated championship string: The Patriots winning three Super Bowls in four years. It already has been accomplished once (the Cowboys in the 1990s), the Steelers won more (four in six years), and the 49ers might have been more impressive (four during the 1980s). Of course, the Green Bay Packers are probably head and shoulders above the rest. Pundits like to point out that the Patriots have won in the "salary cap era." The same era that has produced a back-to-back champion (Denver) and the Patriots. So maybe the "salary cap era" isn't much different from the other eras of the NFL.
Most underrated championship string: The Canton Bulldogs. The Bulldogs were the first dynasty of the fledging league and the first team to go undefeated in an NFL season. The Bulldogs were 21-0-3 from 1922-23.
Most overrated undefeated team: The 1972 Miami Dolphins. Needed narrow escapes over the Browns in the playoffs and looked lackluster in the Super Bowl VII against Washington. And seriously, enough with the champagne toast when the last undefeated team losses each season. Do thedescendentss of the Canton Bulldogs do that?
Most underrated undefeated team: The 1948 Cleveland Browns. The perfect season came in the middle of a 29-game unbeaten string that began in October 1947 and continued until 1949. The Browns dominated the AAFC all four years with four championships and a 52-4-3 record. The team was so good, the fans stopped going to the games because the outcome was predictable. How ironic that the Browns are one of the few teams that have yet to reach the Super Bowl.
And if anybody thinks that the Browns were a fluke from an inferior league, the club defeated the NFL champion Eagles 35-10 in its first game, then defeated Los Angeles 30-28 in the 1950 NFL Championship Game.
Most overrated statistic: The 1,000 yards rushing and receiving mark. A running back or receiver needs to average only 62.5 yards per game to reach 1,000 yards for a season. And Marcus Allen only did that three times. The standard of excellence (especially for running backs) should be 1,600 yards, or 100-yards per game.
Most underrated statistic: Scoring offense and defense. NFL games are decided by the number of points scored, not yards allowed.
Mostoverrated rival league: the AFL: if only because it gave us the Oakland Raiders.
Dishonorable mention: NFL Europe. Who won this year's exciting World Bowl? And you can't say, "The team from Germany."
Most underrated league: The XFL. Both the NFL and the Arena Football League are still using ideas implemented from this league. Remember that next time ESPN shows one of those innovative camera angles or you see the Bills uniform. Wait a minute; maybe the XFL wasn't that great.
Honorable mention: The AAFC. The good: Otto Graham. The bad: The San Francisco 49ers.
Most overrated single-game record: Jamal Lewis' 295 rushing yards against the Cleveland Browns. Why? Because it was against the Cleveland Browns.
Most underrated single-game record: Flipper Anderson's 15 receptions for 336 yards and one touchdown. Anderson caught one ball by watching the play develop on the big screen and noticed that quarterback Jim Everett was throwing him the ball.
Honorable mention: Chiefs score 8 rushing touchdowns in one game, 2004. Fantasy owners cursed Dick Vermeil after he pulled Priest Holmes following his four-touchdown performance. Backup Derrick Blaylock also rushed for four touchdowns, signifying the greatest fantasy performance never used by anybody in the world. And if anybody tries to tell you that they played Blaylock that day, they are lying.
Most overrated aspect of Raiders fans: That they are tough guys. A picture is worth 1,000 words.
Most underrated aspect of Raiders fans: They can grow a sweet mustache. And not in the "Jeff Kent, I have a wimpy porn-mustache way." But in a Magnum PI sort of way.
Honorable mention: The Raiders fans that actually communicate in coherent thoughts and sentences, although rare.
Most overrated video game NFL player: Super Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson. The two-way star first appeared on the pages of NFL Insider years ago but now everybody has jumped on the bandwagon. But if you used Kevin Greene correctly, you could stop Jackson.
Most underrated video game NFL player: Super Tecmo Bowl Christian Okoye. The Nigerian Nightmare had a higher rating than Jackson, and was more difficult to stop.
Most underrated name for a defunct franchise: The Providence Steam Roller.
Honorable mention: The Los Angeles Dons. (Hint for any team that would ever move to the region.)
Most overrated name for a defunct franchise: Rams.
Most overrated act by an NFL fan: The fan holding a "D" and fence signs. It was funny... years ago.
Just kidding, it was never funny.
Most underrated act by an NFL fan: A fan refusing to draft players from a team that he hates for his fantasy team. In other words, don't expect to see Randy Moss on the Hater Nation fantasy team.
Most underrated Super Bowl team: The Cowboys in Super Bowl VI. The first team to hold an opponent (Miami) without an offensive touchdown. A fact that was lost on the 2000 Baltimore Ravens.
Most overrated Super Bowl team: St. Louis Football Team, Super Bowl XXXIV. Ha, and you thought it was going to be the Raiders in Super Bowl XI.
Most underrated player statistic: Most consecutive games played. Jim Marshall played 282 consecutive games on the defensive line. Sadly, he is fondly remembered for running the wrong way. But what do you expect from a Viking?
Most overrated statistic: Peyton Manning's perfect games. There are way too many jokes for this. Manning's image as a coddled superstar that cannot win the big game is furthered with made-up statistics such as this. It also shows that the NFL passer (don't call it a quarterback) rating could use a few tweaks. There should be some sort of system that measures wins against quality opponents, which would lower Manning's status as a "perfect" quarterback.
It also would lower Drew Brees status after going 1-4 against playoff teams last season.
Dishonorable mention: Most seasons, one club, Jackie Slater. But there's a catch; it was two clubs. Slater played 19 years with the Los Angeles Rams, but one season with the St. Louis Football Team.
Most verrated former Playmate: Pamela Anderson. Do you really need an explanation?
Most underrated former Playmate: Kelly Monaco. Wait... Kelly Monaco was in Playboy??? Think kindly as you Google her, safe function off.
Most overrated upset: The Jets over the Colts in Super Bowl III. You have to remember that the Jets defeated a Don Shula-coached team in a big game. History shows that it wasn't that hard to do.
Is anybody still reading this after the Kelly Monaco thing? Search later, boys.
Most underrated upset: The Chiefs over the Vikings in Super Bowl IV. Imagine how the world would have been different if the Super Bowl III had not happened. Maybe it would have been a drunken Len Dawson hitting on Suzy Kobler during a sideline interview.
Most overrated trade in football history: The Herschel Walker trade. The move that finally pushed the Cowboys over the top was the trade for Charles Haley. The 49ers had a better deal on the table from Minnesota, but 49ers coach George Seifert thought the Vikings were a bigger threat.
Most underrated trade in football history: The Eric Dickerson trade, October 31, 1987. It pretty much was the beginning of the end for the Rams franchise as it went into "Major League" mode, modeled after the Charlie Sheen movie. Halloween is no longer celebrated in some Southern California communities.
Most overrated quarterback in the NFL: Donovan McNabb. Mike Vick seems like the easy pick her, but McNabb gets a free pass after gagging in three consecutive NFC Championship Games and one Super Bowl.
Most underrated quarterback in the NFL: Jake Delhomme. The talking heads during the NFL Draft coverage on ESPN were saying that the Panthers needed a quarterback. Why? Delhomme was only one year removed from taking the Panthers to the Super Bowl and a healthy squad in Carolina should be the team to beat this year.
Most overrated NFL player pseudonym: Ron Mexico. It became so popular, so fast, that it quickly lost it's luster. Much like the band, The Strokes.
Most underrated NFL player pseudonym: Brock Middlebrook. It's the deep-album cut of player aliases. And yes, you can still order a Falcons Middlebrook jersey from NFLshops.com.
Most overrated fantasy football player: Peyton Manning. He still finds a way to choke even in fantasy football.
Most underrated fantasy football player: Fred Taylor. The annual Fred Taylor pick causes the biggest stir in the fantasy draft room. But he's a top-5 running back when healthy.
Most overrated part of The Hater Nation: Too much Hutson.
The most underrated part of The Hater Nation: At least it's not ChargerTom.com.