If nothing else, the slow-month exercise of NFL players ranking other NFL players gives some of the NFL players extra motivation for the coming season.
Case in point, Chargers tight end Antonio Gates is still unhappy with his placement at No. 73. He wasn’t happy then, and he’s even less happy now that four other tight ends (and counting) have been named in front of him.
“It was frustrating to me because I felt like numbers-wise, you can always compare and say statistics mean everything,” Gates recently told Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times. “But once you play, and you understand the game of football and game-planning, I’ve always felt who got the most respect and demanded the most attention ideally is the guy who had the biggest impact.”
“That kind of gave me a chip. Sometimes you need that kind of thing. I just feel like the coverages I’ve seen at this position, I don’t really see when I watch other guys that they talk about.”
The four other guys who landed higher on the list than Gates at No. 73 are Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez (No. 47), Cowboys tight end Jason Witten (No. 41), 49ers tight end Vernon Davis (No. 38), and Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (No. 25). The top 20 players have yet to be unveiled.
Gates, who turns 33 on Tuesday, caught only 49 passes in 15 games last year, down from 64 in 13 the prior year. Of his 83 career touchdowns, his career high of 13 came in 2004, Gates’ second NFL season.
During the 2011, a Chargers team source said Gates looked “old and fat.” At the time, Gates said he wasn’t bothered by the opinion of someone within the organization.
He’s definitely bothered by the collective opinions of the players who voted on their top 100 peers.
It’s not the first time this has happened. Last year, Eagles quarterback Mike Vick called his placement at No. 70 “a joke.” Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said the same thing regarding Eli Manning’s No. 31 finish after winning his second Super Bowl MVP award.