Every year Sports Illustrated polls players and asks them who are the most overrated guys in their chosen sports. It was the NFL's turn this week, which means Tony Romo now has the slings and arrows of his peers added to a losing season on his list of things to feel bad about in 2010.
Romo finished with seven percent of the vote, placing him behind only his former target Terrell Owens on the list of those that players think others regard too highly. Mark Sanchez, Albert Haynesworth and Eli Manning rounded out the top five, in that order, and it's not hard to see a fundamental problem with the approach voters took when providing the magazine with their answers.
Four of the five players are actually rated quite accurately or even underrated when it comes to their football ability, but are wildly overexposed by the media. There aren't many people who consider Manning an elite quarterback, but he's Peyton's brother and that means he stars in commercials and gets some residual attention as a result. Sanchez isn't even considered to be as good as Manning, but the Jets were media darlings this offseason and Sanchez was one of the players most prominently featured on "Hard Knocks." That both of them play in New York doesn't hurt their marketability, but it's a real stretch to say that either of them are considered great quarterbacks by anyone but the most blinded of partisans.
T.O. is the one who might even be underrated. Owens had to wait until the eve of training camp to even land a job, something that wouldn't happen to a player who was getting too much credit for his activities. Now he's on pace for a 1,500-yard season while making $2 million, something that would suggest that his talent wasn't being appreciated enough by the rest of the league. Owens is wildly overexposed, of course, and as dislikable a player as there's ever been, but it would seem that he can still play at a high level.
All of that brings us back to Romo. He dates celebrities, he wears goofy hats to postgame news conferences and he's on national TV all the time because he's the quarterback for the Cowboys. So, like the other three guys discussed above, he's overexposed. But overrated? Not by a long shot.
Are there really a lot of people out there that think he's one of the best quarterbacks in the game? He's a talented player, sure, but it isn't like people are debating his ability relative to Peyton, Tom Brady or Drew Brees. It's more like a question of if you'd rather have Romo or Matt Schaub? And that's the positive view. Romo has plenty of detractors who point to his play in big games and his penchant for backbreaking interceptions as signs that he really isn't all that good in the first place.
The truth is somewhere in the middle which is a pretty good sign that he's rated exactly where he should be by whoever it is that's doing the rating.