Sometimes you see a headline and think, “yup, that’s clickbait.” After all, with a headline that promises to name the most overrated player in the history of your favorite team, you know you’re not going to like what you see. But that’s the secret of the word overrated. In order to be overrated, someone has to think you’re pretty good. So this isn’t a list of band players, just players that have gotten more hype than they deserve.
The Most Overrated Player in the History of Each NFL Team: AFC Edition
The Baltimore Ravens- Ray Lewis
Starting this list off with a bang is Ray Lewis, who is one of the best linebackers of all time. Why Ray Lewis? How do you possibly justify naming a bonafide first ballot hall of fame player the most overrated in the history of the Baltimore Ravens? Easy, the franchise has only been around since 1996, and despite their success, they haven’t had a ton of star power.
For the first several years of Ray Lewis’ career, he was easily the best linebacker in football. However, to say that he played on that level for his entire career just isn’t true. He lost a step after he was injured in 2005, and he was never the same player. That didn’t stop the media from pretending he was, especially during Baltimore’s Super Bowl run in 2012, where he would jump on players after they’d already been brought to the ground, only to be issued a tackle.
The Pittsburgh Steelers- Lynn Swann
This one is obvious for anyone that has ever argued about wide receivers that do or do not belong in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was a mediocre wide-out that only had two double digit touchdown seasons and never broke 1,000 yards. And before anyone talks about how different the NFL was back then, in his best season, Swann was seventh in receiving yards, and four men broke 1,000 yards. He’s only in the Hall of Fame because he wore the right jerseys and made a couple of pretty catches. Someone should congratulate Odell Beckham Jr, because by those standards, he’s already a Hall of Famer.
The Cleveland Browns- Otto Graham
Any time you try to make a list of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, there’s always that one person that says you have to include Otto Graham because he won eight thousand championships in a row. People can forgive his mediocre statline because quarterbacks weren’t asked to do as much back then. Was he great for his time? Absolutely. Was he someone like Johnny Unitas, who made an impact that changed the game forever? No. It was hard to pick the most overrated Brown because either they were either rightfully praised, like Jim Brown, or garbage, like everyone that has worn the uniform not named Joe Thomas in recent memory.
The Cincinnati Bengals- Chad Johnson
Who didn’t love Chad Johnson, aka Chad Ochocinco? He was a wild character that had incredible footwork. When he, Carson Palmer, and T.J. Houshmanzadeh were tearing it up, they were the NFL’s best. For a five year span, Johnson tore the NFL apart. But eventually, his shenanigans on and off the field cost him. He lost a step, and couldn’t even produce in New England with Tom Brady throwing him passes. He couldn’t even make it work in the Canadian Football League, and the prop jacket he wore on the sideline is the closest to Canton he’ll ever get.
The Indianapolis Colts- Bob Sanders
Remember Bob Sanders? He got healthy just in time back in 2006, helping turn the NFL’s worst run defense into a great unit as they went on a tear, leading Peyton Manning to his first Super Bowl win. You have to remember, the Colts couldn’t score a touchdown against the Ravens or Chiefs in the playoffs that year, and both teams ran the ball well.
However, Sanders’ legacy is just a bit too big. He won defensive player of the year in a season where Jared Allen had 15.5 sacks and Antonio Cromartie had 10 interceptions. Why? Because he was supposedly the NFL’s best safety… at a time where Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed were still playing. The sad reality is that Sanders spent most of his career on the bench, recovering from injuries, but he’s still remembered as an all-time great.
The Tennessee Titans- Steve McNair
Don’t think this fair? Think that if anything, Steve McNair is underrated? Well let’s look at his statline. In his very best season in the NFL, he threw for 3,215 yards, 24 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. That’s his best year. He was 15th in passing yards in his very best season, and yet people act like he deserves Hall of Fame consideration. No thanks.
The Jacksonville Jaguars- Rashean Mathis
Remember that span where Rashean Mathis had a really fantastic Madden rating and was considered an elite corner? Because that never really translated to film. He had multiple interceptions throughout the first few years of his career, but he also spent that time being torched by the likes of Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, and Andre Johnson. The Jaguars are a young franchise, but Mathis has gotten the most ill-deserved praise by far.
The Houston Texans- Jadeveon Clowney
Everyone put down your pitchforks. I’m well aware that Jadeveon Clowney is coming into his own and that he’s turned the corner and that 2017 will be the year he proves he was worthy of the first overall pick! But to this point he hasn’t. The Houston Texans are a very young franchise, and Clowney is praised as being an elite talent. Even on Madden, he still has a higher overall rating than players like Derek Carr, despite the fact that he’s registered 10.5 sacks over three years.
The New England Patriots- Tedy Bruschi
When you think of the New England Patriots teams of the early 2000’s, nobody personifies that defense like linebacker Tedy Bruschi. Bruschi is a legend in New England, and his leadership as a member of those teams shouldn’t be ignored. However, he was only ever really just adequate. He wasn’t a great pass rusher, he wasn’t great in coverage, he was just a thumper. I’m terribly sorry that I didn’t pick Tom Brady here, but we all know it just isn’t true.
The New York Jets- Joe Namath
Let’s take a long look in the mirror here. If Joe Namath hadn’t drunkenly guaranteed taht his New York Jets would beat the Baltimore Colts in the Super Bowl, would he be in the Hall of Fame? After all, he finished with 47 more interceptions than touchdowns. Even the year where he became the first passer with 4,000 yards, he threw more interceptions than touchdowns. He was completely mediocre and his bust in Canton is a farce.
The Buffalo Bills- Andre Reed
Andre Reed found his home in Canton, Ohio before Tim Brown did. That’s a farce, especially considering that Reed played in a gimmicky pass-happy offense for most of his career, he only broke 1,000 yards four times and he had one double digit touchdown season. Reed was good, but not great like everyone pretends.
The Miami Dolphins- Mercury Morris
Mercury Morris had exactly one good season in his entire career, and yes, it was the undefeated Dolphins team in 1972. It was the only time he had 1,000 yards, and he just barely did that. In the other seven years of his career, he was basically a kick returner and only rushed for 3,133 total yards in 85 games.
The Oakland Raiders- Bo Jackson
If you know the Raider Nation, you know this selection will have more backlash than any of them. When it comes to runningback prospects, Bo Jackson was probably the best of all time. The insane combination of size and speed made Bo a beast in Tecmo and on the field… when he was there. See, people pretend Bo Jackson belongs next to Walter Payton and Barry Sanders in the greatest of all time conversation, but he doesn’t. He didn’t commit to the NFL, and his career was too short. There’s no denying the talent, but the production was never there, even if it isn’t his fault.
The Kansas City Chiefs- Trent Green
Ready for some sad facts? Trent Green is second all-time in franchise history with passing yards and touchdowns, and it didn’t take him 13 years like it took record-holder Len Dawson. Trent Green is arguably the best quarterback in Chiefs history, but at the end of the day, that’s all he was. He folded like a cheap chair under pressure and completely disappeared in the few meaningful games he started.
The Los Angeles Chargers- Dan Fouts
Everyone always raves about Dirty Dan Fouts and his explosive Air Coryell offense, but when you actually look at his numbers, they’re hardly impressive. He threw more interceptions than touchdowns in seven seasons, and turned the ball over about as much as he scored during his good years. Fouts had literally two years in his prime where he threw more touchdowns than interceptions.
The Denver Broncos- Craig Morton
Did you expect this to be John Elway? Because I really wanted to pick John Elway. Part of me still believes the right answer is John Elway. But there’s also a very real argument that says Elway is one of the best ever, and coming from the Raider’s team manager, it wouldn’t have gone over well. People still remember Craig Morton fondly, but what did he ever actually do? What did he ever really accomplish for Denver other than turn the ball over in big games?
So that was the AFC edition of this list, congratulations on making it through the whole thing! Sorry if your favorite player made an appearance on this list, but there’s some good news as well. There’s a comment section down below just begging for your opinions! Or crudely written insults, both are welcome! Be sure to check out the NFC version as well!