AFC East: NFL Nation Confidential: Most respect

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning was voted the NFL's “most respected player,” according to the 300 players surveyed by ESPN.com this season. The results were not surprising. Manning is considered a great ambassador for the NFL.

Manning received several votes in the Miami Dolphins' locker room, despite Miami not playing Denver this season. But many Dolphins have faced Manning over the years and have a lot of respect for him as a player, a competitor and a person.

Manning embodies nearly every trait you want in a franchise quarterback. His combined physical and mental prowess keeps him at the top of his game after 16 years. But Manning's character and work ethic also are admired by his peers, as evident by these survey results.

NFLN survey/most respected: Patriots

January, 16, 2014
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Of all the categories in the NFL Nation player survey, the "most respected" was the one that piqued my interest more than the others. I like to hear how players view their peers on other teams.

Of the 10 players surveyed, I heard nine different answers. The only repeat was Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.

For me, the qualities of the most respected player is one who rises up in the critical situations, has done it for an extended period of time, and carries himself with class in victory or defeat.

I thought Colts receiver Reggie Wayne would be a good choice, especially after hearing one Patriot mention him. I also like the fact he stayed with one team throughout his career, which isn't always an option for players, but it's a choice that Wayne made in 2012 after the team bottomed out and he was a free agent.

ESPN analyst Tedy Bruschi, a lifetime Patriot, sometimes talks about his approach of preferring to "right the ship" instead of "jumping ship."

That type of approach leads to respect and it's one of the reasons Wayne gets the vote from here.

NFLN survey/respected player: Jets

January, 16, 2014
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Our NFL Nation network of team reporters polled 320 players across the league -- 10 from each team -- to produce a confidential survey that covered eight probing questions/hot topics. Next up ...

Question: Which player do you respect the most?

Winner: Peyton Manning, quarterback, Denver Broncos.

Our take: Manning was a landslide winner with 86 votes (26.8 percent), accumulating more than three times the number of votes as the second-place finishers, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (24 each). The Manning-Brady dynamic is interesting. Brady has three Super Bowl rings to Manning's one, yet it's clear which quarterback is more popular among his peers. It makes for interesting discussion fodder, especially with a Manning-Brady showdown in the AFC Championship Game.

I can tell you this: Manning received the most votes (three) among the 10 Jets players who participated in the survey. Two players voted for Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. Five other players, including Peterson, received one vote apiece.

Only two Jets received votes from their peers around the league: safety Ed Reed (five) and linebacker David Harris (one). Obviously, Reed drew attention for his stellar years with the Baltimore Ravens, not his seven-game, hired-gun gig with the Jets. Players weren't allowed to vote for teammates. A total of 78 players received votes in this category.

NFLN survey/respected player: Bills

January, 16, 2014
Jan 16
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In the Buffalo Bills' locker room, there is little question about who is respected. Running back Fred Jackson and defensive tackle Kyle Williams, two of the team's most-tenured players, provide leadership voices and veteran guidance.

Williams
But in ESPN's recent survey of 320 NFL players, Bills players drew only two votes: one each to Kyle Williams and defensive tackle Mario Williams.

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning was the leading vote-getter, with 86 players naming him as most-respected, while New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson were tied for second with 24 votes each.

Coincidentally, all three of those players are on the Bills' schedule next season, as they host the Vikings, travel to Denver, and face AFC East foe New England twice.

One ex-Bill drew some votes in the survey, as 11 players said that recently retired linebacker London Fletcher was the NFL's most-respected player.

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