Most Underrated players in the NFL
By Jared Rhone
All sports are riddled with all-time greats and super star players that have dominated the face of their respective sports. American Football, however, is a different kind of animal. Teams rely on individuals such as quarterbacks, running backs and kickers to made big plays offensively, all while needing the strength of unity of group play to carry them on the defensive end. But what happens when we peel the cover off and observe star’s counterparts that helped drive them to success? So many quality players have been masters of their craft behind the scenes. Let’s look past the stars and examine three of the most underrated players in the history of NFL.
Butler was the third safety selected in the 1990 draft, and would prove to be a standout performer in his draft class. He spent the next years (the entirety of his football career) with the Green Bay Packers and made a name for himself as a reliable safety. But Butler’s contributions were long overlooked throughout the development of his career. In fact, the statue that resides outside of the Packers stadium, Lambeau Field, is inspired by the iconic Lambeau leap celebration created by Butler. But despite this, the statue excludes the one person to which the celebration was made popular: LeRoy Butler.
But disregarding Butler’s influence on the Packer’s can’t take away from his statistical accolades at the safety position. He amassed 20.5 sacks, 989 tackles, 38 interceptions, and 13 forced fumbles. His dominance of the position stretched throughout the 90’s and his influence lingered outside the football field as well. NFL legend and former Packers player Brett Favre claimed that his time with the Packers may have brought success and titles, but Butler’s time reignited culture and celebration into the franchise.
A quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, Frank Ryan is criminally overlooked despite his accolades on the football field. In fact, if you aren’t from Cleveland, Ohio you may have never even heard of him. Brown played for and with all-time NFL talent such as Leroy Kelly and Paul Warfield, but his contributions go beyond the quality of players he played with. Ryan led the NFL in passing touchdowns twice and would lead his team to NFL championship in 1964. He also made three Pro Bowls and was standout performer in clutches situations, propelling the Brown to playoff success in 1965 after three fourth quarter comebacks.
Ryan’s football career is often not recognized only due to the franchise he played for but because he struggled with injury that took off precious years of his prime. He faced early surgeries in his career that kept him in constant pain, but it didn’t stop him form carrying his team to the playoffs three more times. While Ryan isn’t the best quarterback of a all time, he is without a doubt the most underappreciated when analyzing his many accomplishments.