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Ranking the 10 most overrated players in NFL history

Archie Manning
Oct 23, 2021; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi Rebels former quarterback Archie Manning talks with Mississippi Rebels athletic director Keith Carter during half time at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

It’s easy for fans to disagree on the legacy of certain players, but what about when it comes to the most overrated NFL players of all time?

It’s a little harder when it comes to the most underrated NFL players in league history. But it should be a little easier to pinpoint the most overrated players in NFL history. 

Most overrated NFL players of all time

But who qualifies among the most overrated NFL players ever? These are the players who get way too much credit for their accomplishments and are remembered more fondly than they should be.

Believe it or not, there are plenty of these players. However, we wanted to identify the crème of the crop when it comes to putting together a list of the 10 most overrated NFL players of all time.

10. William Perry

It hurts to describe “the Refrigerator” as being one of the more overrated football players in NFL history. But his massive size and the fact that he would sometimes be used on offense have made it easy to accentuate his career achievements. He was obviously a fan favorite in Chicago, although he was never one of the top defensive players on the Bears.

William Perry played 10 seasons in the NFL, covering 138 games, yet he only had 29.5 career sacks, averaging roughly three per season. Considering that he was a first-round pick, Perry may not have been a complete bust, although he’s a bit overrated. 

9. George Blanda

George Blanda gets credit for being the oldest player in NFL history, staying in the league until he was 48. He was also an AFL all-star four times and won AFL MVP honors in 1961. But considering the length of his career, Blanda was only briefly a standout player.

He’s remembered fondly for being both a quarterback and a placekicker. But his career passer rating was just 60.6, as he had more interceptions than touchdown passes. He also owns the AFL record for most interceptions in a single season, making it hard to consider him a legend or figure out why he’s in the Hall of Fame for reasons other than his impressive longevity.

8. Ron Jaworksi

Despite being the starter in Philadelphia for close to a decade, Ron Jaworski wasn’t that good for someone who’s considered a “franchise” quarterback. While he got the Eagles to the playoffs in four straight seasons, including their first Super Bowl appearance, Jaworski also oversaw plenty of losing seasons in Philadelphia.

He made just one Pro Bowl appearance during his career and finished with a modest 72.8 passer rating. It’s amazing that he lasted as the starter for the Eagles as long as he did.

7. Bo Jackson

As an athlete, Bo Jackson is one of the best in American sports history. He’s on the short list of athletes to play both MLB and pro football. Unfortunately, his NFL career was shortened by injury.

In fact, his entire career was held back by injuries, as he never played more than 11 games in a season and never reached 1,000 rushing yards in a season. If he could have stayed healthy, Jackson might have been something special. But it’s hard to look at him as an amazing player when he only appeared in 38 career games over four seasons.

6. Roy Williams

For much of his career, Roy Williams was billed as a no. 1 wide receiver. The Cowboys were obsessed with trying to acquire him from Detroit before finally getting him in 2008. But with just eight years in the league and one Pro Bowl appearance, Williams surely qualifies as one of the most overrated NFL players of all time.

While he had a strong rookie year with the Lions and looked like a budding star, Williams never lived up to the hype and expectations, especially as the no. 7 overall pick in 2004. He had just one 1,000-yard season in his career and declined quickly after he got to Dallas.

5. Michael Vick

There are a lot of ways to look at Michael Vick, and being one of the most overrated players of his generation is one of them. He certainly helped to usher in a new era of athletic and mobile quarterbacks. He also deserves credit for being a four-time Pro Bowler and winning Comeback Player of the Year after his legal problems.

But we’re also talking about the top overall pick in the draft who completed just 56.2% of his passes during his career. Vick was undoubtedly different and influential, but he never developed into an above-average passer and he only started five playoff games in his career. While he’s a fascinating chapter in NFL history, he wasn’t an elite player.

4. Archie Manning

It’s safe to say that Archie Manning’s sons accomplished far more in the NFL than he did.

Those who don’t remember seeing him play in person probably just assume that he was a great NFL quarterback too. After all, the Saints used the second overall pick in 1971 on him. But Manning had a rather modest NFL career that included just two Pro Bowl selections.

While he’s in the Saints Hall of Fame, Manning had 48 more interceptions than touchdowns during his career. Plus, the Saints had exactly zero winning seasons during his time in New Orleans, so the elder Manning wasn’t a winning quarterback either.

3. Herschel Walker

Despite being a national champion and Heisman winner in college, as a pro, Herschel Walker is one of the most overrated players in NFL history. In more than a decade in the league, Walker only went to the Pro Bowl twice while averaging a modest 4.2 yards per carry.

His trade from the Cowboys to the Vikings in 1989 is remembered as one of the worst trades in NFL history, at least from Minnesota’s perspective. As far as the Cowboys are concerned, trading Walker is one of the best things they’ve ever done. Believe it or not, Walker had just two 1,000-yard seasons in the NFL, so he is far from one of the best running backs in league history.

2. Paul Hornung

Paul Hornung might be one of the most overrated football players of all time in both college and the NFL. He won the Heisman in college despite playing on a losing team in a year in which Jim Brown more than deserved to become the first African-American player to win the award.

In the NFL, he’s credited with leading the NFL in scoring in three straight years, although he was both a running back and a kicker. While he helped Green Bay win four NFL championships and the first Super Bowl, he didn’t even play in Super Bowl I. His versatility helped to inflate some of his numbers and make him appear more valuable than he was, making Hornung one of the most overrated NFL players of all time.

1. Joe Namath

One game is all it took for Joe Namath to be remembered for generations to come. He guaranteed the Jets would win Super Bowl III despite being 19.5-point underdogs, and they did just that.

But while he won MVP honors in the Super Bowl, Namath didn’t have a touchdown pass with the Jets’ defense being the true catalyst, holding the Colts to just seven points. For the most part, the rest of Namath’s career wasn’t as good as one might think considering how highly regarded he still is, especially among Jets fans.

While he won AFL MVP in back-to-back seasons and had a few good years after the merger, Namath also completed just 50.1% of his passes during his career with 220 interceptions compared to just 173 touchdown passes. Those aren’t exactly the numbers of a legendary figure.

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