A little while back, we discussed the ESPN polling of AFC North players to discuss who will most likely break out in 2009. The results were pretty favorable for Browns fans as a lot of Cleveland players made the list.
Well, another poll was recently released and ESPN quickly put the kabosh on our excitement by asking players two questions: Who is the best quarterback, and who is the toughest player?
In a not-so-surprising turn of events, the Cleveland Browns were not well-represented on either list.
Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger blew away the competition, receiving 18 of the 32 total votes. Carson Palmer came in second with seven. What was surprising was the fact that both Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson received votes – each with one a piece. Thus, at least two players in the division (not on the Browns) feel that either Quinn or Anderson is the best play-caller in the North. No other team in the division can say that they had two quarterbacks make the list. That has to be worth something, right?
On the “toughness” scale, the top few slots belong to a slew of Steelers and Ravens, with Pittsburgh’s James Harrison edging out Baltimore’s Ray Lewis. The only Browns to make the list were Joshua Cribbs and Jamal Lewis, each getting one vote. Perhaps the same two voting parties that voted for Quinn and Anderson?
Two quick takeaways on the toughness front.
1) No members of the Cincinnatti Bengals were named to the list. Quite ironic given the off-field issues that tend to litter the Bengals from year to year; even if they are things of the past.
2) The division hates Hines Ward.
At least one person each in the locker rooms of the Browns, Bengals and Ravens considered voting for Steelers receiver Hines Ward in this category. But they couldn’t bring themselves to do it, mostly because they disagreed with the way Ward plays the game.
“I really don’t want to vote for Hines,” said one rival, who voted for someone else.
Sure, he may be tough. And he is one heck of a wide receiver. But Ward is also widely considered to be a dirty player; especially from members of the Browns and Bengals. And since players could not vote for themselves or a teammate, this definitely limited the votes that could have been tossed Ward’s way.
Let’s hope that the 2009 season shifts some of these votes for next year – assuming there is a follow-up poll. Alex Mack sure has the capabilities to make the “tough” list. And if one quarterback can manage to pull away from the other, I hope that he can at least prove to be better than Joe freaking Flacco. We will see…