NFC South: NFL Nation Confidential: Most respect

Survey/respected player: Falcons

January, 16, 2014
Jan 16
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When a guy misses an entire season due to neck surgery then comes back and continues to play at an elite level, he deserves nothing but respect.

Such was the case for Peyton Manning, who was voted the most respected player in a players’ poll conducted by ESPN.com. Some Falcons contributed to the vote in Manning’s favor.

Manning, who turns 38 in March, looks capable of playing into his late 40s. He doesn’t have to use his legs but can still improvise. The most dangerous weapon in his arsenal right now is his mind because he’s typically a step ahead of the competition.

I personally would have voted for Adrian Peterson because I know what it feels like to suffer a torn ACL, and Peterson’s dramatic comeback from the injury still amazes me. But it makes sense why players would hold Manning on such a pedestal.

When you’re at the top of your game for such a long time, you command respect.
This was another one of those questions that was left open to some interpretation. Does “respected” mean performance on the field? Leadership? Sportsmanship? What kind of guy you are off the field? But no matter what the criteria, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees belongs near the top of the list. He’s as good as it gets in all of those areas – and he’s been that way ever since he arrived in New Orleans in 2006. Since then, he has been a Super Bowl MVP, a NFL Man of the Year and a Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year, among other honors.

Alas, Brees still lost votes to fellow all-world quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Tom Brady (a common theme in this year’s NFL Nation surveys). But he’s in good company, and their busts will all be enshrined together in the same corner of the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day.

Survey/respected player: Buccaneers

January, 16, 2014
Jan 16
10:00
AM ET
TAMPA, Fla. -- In our NFL Nation survey, one of the questions we asked was which player in the league is respected the most. Denver quarterback Peyton Manning was the winner.

No argument on Manning. But let’s have a little fun with this and narrow the question to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

I’m seeing plenty of good candidates and I’m basing things on what guys do on and off the field. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, linebacker Lavonte David and cornerback Darrelle Revis are arguably among the league’s best at their positions. You could also make a case for wide receiver Vincent Jackson. All four also are solid locker-room guys.

I don’t see a clear-cut winner here. I see at least four guys that are in the conversation. That might be better than having just one candidate.

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