Massive Defensive Tackle out of Tennessee who had some success in the NFL, playing 10 seasons. A two-time All Pro, he made massive amounts of money when he signed a seven-year $100 million contract with the Redskins and lasted only two years after that.
The “Freak” was surely a next-level defensive end talent coming out of Florida. After making an initial splash in the league with 14.5 sacks his rookie year with the Titans, he never really saw that same success in his 11-year career. In fact, he recorded almost half his sacks in his first three years in the NFL. Despite that, he made a lot of money and is still highly regarded as a great player.
When the Carolina Panthers took him first overall in the 2011 NFL Draft, they expected that they got a long-term franchise quarterback for years to come. Though he has been the starter since he came to Carolina, and has actually seen success, he's battled inconsistency and injury. With as talented as Cam is, he should be way better than what he has shown through his career.
Though he was one of my favorites to watch when he played, it could be argued that Brett Favre was overrated. Despite all the touchdown passes and wins as a starting QB with the Packers, Jets, and Vikings, he was also known for making bonehead plays and throwing interceptions. In fact, he's thrown more interceptions than anyone in the 100-year history of the NFL (he's also fumbled more than anyone in history also)!
This Hall of Fame QB was part of the only undefeated Super Bowl-winning team in the 1972 Miami Dolphins. Still, this QB of one of the greatest teams ever went down in week five and didn't play again until the playoffs as Backup Earl Morrall was at the helm most of the way and even led the AFC in passing. Still, Griese never was “outstanding”, as he benefitted from one of the best coaches of all time (Don Shula) and a wonderful defense (“The No-name Defense”) to help land him in Canton.
The four-time Super Bowl-winning QB and broadcaster/actor has been successful at everything he has attempted in life it appears. Still, Bradshaw benefitted heavily from a great ground game (HOF’er Franco Harris) and one of the best and most well-known defenses (“The Steel Curtain”) of all time, which had many HOF’ers on it also. Though he had a big role in winning those titles, I do not think he would have had that success with another organization without those pieces in place.
The #1 overall pick out of UCLA in 1989, Aikman was fortunate enough to spend his entire career with the Dallas Cowboys. Though the leader of the three super bowl winning teams of the 1990s, he did have a dynamite supporting cast and set of coaches that more than helped him get those rings and into the Hall of Fame. Without Emmitt Smith, a consistently great offensive line, a more than capable defense, and coach Jimmy Johnson calling the shots, would Aikman have had the same success?
The two-time super bowl winning QB has bested the dynastic Patriots in both of his wins in the big game. Still, the #1 draft pick overall out of Ole Miss in 2004 may not have lived up all the hype during his long-time NFL career. Now, it seems like every year his New York Giants franchise is trying to find his replacement to lead the now struggling Giants into the future. In fact, he was recently benched for rookie 1st rounder, Daniel Jones.
Perhaps the most controversial pick on this list, “Tom Terrific” deserves some consideration here. The six-time Super Bowl Champion was a sixth-round draft pick out of Michigan, who was fortunate enough to be taken by the Bill Bellicheck-led, evil empire Patriots (see also Matt Cassell who is on this list). If Tommy wasn’t picked up by the Patriots, would he still be in the league? Would he have still been a multiple time super bowl champion and league MVP? Would he still be married to a supermodel? I believe the answer to at least two of those questions would be “No”.
Talented but seemingly troubled corner out of Washington, the Chiefs somewhat surprisingly took him in the late first round in 2015. Despite great ball skills and a knack for producing turnovers, he also has developed a reputation for stupid penalties and hurting his team. He did this a few too many times in KC which resulted in him being dealt to the Rams. Still, he is too highly regarded as a player compared to the value he brings to his team.
Kirk Cousins is a great person who's not a great football player. After getting the franchise-player tag multiple times in Washington, Cousins signed a huge contract with the Minnesota Vikings. In his second year of that huge payout, he has not lived up to expectations and the Vikings missed out on the playoffs last year after winning a playoff game the year before with Case Keenum. So far, the Vikings have not seen the return on the Kirk Cousins investment.
This talented, albeit inconsistent, high, first-round pick out of South Carolina has not produced how the Houston Texans would have predicted. So, they dealt him to Seattle early in the 2019 season. Still, Clowney was solid in college, but his play in the 2013 Outback bowl game against Michigan (forced fumble and recovery) put him on the map and started his journey as a tremendously overrated player.
This first-round draft pick signal caller for the Rams, Saints, and Chargers was known to have big-time talent. Because of that talent, he was continually given chances on his teams to be “the guy”. He played in the league for 12 years and was only able to take his team to the playoffs three times early in his career. He may be even more well-known for his altercation with Jim Rome for calling him “Chris Evert” after the female tennis star!
When Tom Brady went down to injury week one of the 2008 season against the Chiefs, Cassel came in and saved the day by throwing 30+ touchdowns in relief of Brady that season. This landed the former USC backup QB a huge deal in Kansas City to become what was hoped to be a long-term, franchise-starting QB. After one decent playoff year, Cassell was inconsistent at best, and the Chiefs gave up on him. This is further proof in my mind that Bellicheck and the Patriots help make QBs great, and not the other way around.
This Heisman Trophy-winning, all-world college Running Back out of Georgia decided to head to the short-lived USFL after his time in Athens. Having success for the New Jersey Generals, Walker ended up in Dallas after the USFL folded. Though tremendously gifted physically, he underperformed in the NFL and also had stints in Minnesota and Philadelphia.
William “Refrigerator” Perry
This 300-pound defensive tackle was the biggest thing going at the time he became famous as part of the Super Bowl-shuffling 1985 Chicago Bears. Coach Mike Ditka even used “The Frig” in the backfield during the year and he became even more famous then. Still, he was not as dominant on the defensive line as people remember. In fact, I believe he wasn’t even the best defensive tackle in his own family (see brother Michael Dean Perry).
When I was a young boy who lived to watch the NFL Films-made Super Bowl highlight shows, I believed Lynn Swann may have been the best to ever play the game. HIs acrobatic grabs in the post season were beyond belief. Later in life as I continued to watch and learn about the game, I realized that Lynn Swann wasn’t even the best receiver on his team! That nod goes to another HOF’er, John Stallworth, who was way more productive than the flashy Swann.
Coming out of USC, this Heisman Trophy-winning Tailback was destined to be a long-time star in the NFL. Though he was in the league for about a decade, people believed he was better than he showed on a professional football field. He never was the perennial 1,000-yard back that was expected. Because of those reasons, the former Trojan belongs on this list.
Another USC product and first overall draft pick, “Key” played for a number of teams in his 11-year career. Even though he did play for a long time, people remember him being more dominant than he actually was. It seemed like coming out of college, that he would be a breakout star. That never happened, and he deserves to be on this list.
“Broadway Joe” famously guaranteed victory for the huge underdog New York Jets in Super Bowl III and led the way to the victory over Don Shula and the heavily favored Baltimore Colts. This huge win arguably landed him in the Hall of Fame, despite less than stellar statistics as a passer and as a winner. This Alabama Crimson Tide product was probably more of a hit with the ladies than he ever was on the field.
The talented cover corner has experienced ups and downs during his career. Breaking out with the Carolina Panthers and ultimately landing a huge contract with the Washington Redskins, Norman has not really seen the success he did when he broke out with the Panthers. Now, he seems to be more known for running his mouth than he does covering receivers.
Initially backing up Brett Favre in Green Bay, Brunell rose to fame helping the new franchise, Jacksonville Jaguars, make their first playoff run. From there, he bounced around the league and seemed to be a better backup than starter. After he made the run in Jacksonville, people seemed to have wanted him to be better than he actually was. Still, he had an average, if not long, NFL career in which he made a lot of money.
Though certainly not overrated at being a dirty player, “Romo” is definitely overrated as a talented one. This long-time 49er, Bronco, and Raider seemed to be the beneficiary of being on great teams, without being great. Still, in the spirit of full disclosure, there is a Chief’s fan writing this!
This enormous run stopper and super bowl champion with the Favre-led Green Bay Packers was surely overrated in his time as a pro. Perhaps more well-known for his “Grave-digger” celebration than making tackles, this solid player was certainly overvalued.
Roy Williams is another guy you look at and expect to be great. A huge physically gifted receiver out of Texas, Williams was taken early in the first round by the Detroit Lions. After having a few decent years and battling some injury issues, his eight years in the league were not as strong as his enormous talent.
Long-time nice guy and Eagles QB and NFL analyst, “Jaws” is a hero in the city of Brotherly Love. Despite helping get the Eagles to the Super Bowl (although they didn't win), Jaworski was not as great as his reputation. In fact, this 17-year veteran is much better analyzing game tape, than he ever was playing it, in my opinion.
Though perhaps best known for being stripped of the ball from behind while starting to prematurely celebrate a touchdown that never was, Leon Lett was a very talented player. Still, he served 28 games of suspensions in his career, and should have been better and for longer than he actually was.
Hall-of-Fame Giants Quarterback, Phil Simms, helped the Giants and legendary coach Bill Parcells to two super bowl wins. Though he did have a phenomenal performance in Super Bowl XXI, his regular season win loss record and his statistics are very pedestrian (see 55.4% career completion rate). His success was helped in part from a dominating defense led by two of the best defensive minds to ever coach (Bill Parcells and Bill Bellicheck), and some of the best to ever play the game (Lawrence Taylor).
Blessed with out-of-this-world talent, former #1 overall pick of the Atlanta Falcons had a good deal of success in the NFL. Still, he never reached his unlimited potential as a long-term franchise QB due to off the field issues and suspensions (see Bad Newz Kennels). If he didn’t lose a chunk of the prime of his career, it would have been interesting to see if he could have fulfilled his potential and been one of the all-time greats.
The Patriarch of Football’s first family and father of Peyton and Eli, Mr. Manning had a long career with the terrible at the time New Orleans Saints. Though many believe he was cursed by playing for a new and terrible franchise, it certainly can be argued that Archie did not do as much as he could to bring the Saints out of the gutter. As proof, he sports a 35-101-3 record as a starting QB, the worst in league history for someone over 100 games. Ouch!
We thought we should also recognize some other potentially overrated players as “Honorable Mentions" here. These are folks that didn’t quite make the list, but very well could have: Mercury Morris, Steve McNair, Jim McMahon, Aqib Talib, Shaun Alexander, Boomer Esiaison, Rich Gannon. Who else do you think should be on here?