The folks over at NFL.com have been spending their summer reaching for content, and one of their latest attempts at story lines has been coming up with All-time underrated and overrated players lists for each team.
The Cardinals' edition was published July 8, and it got me thinking about the premise.
Having grown up a season ticket holder, I wondered: could I make a better list?
The short answer is "yes," and that's what I set out to do. So, limiting it to their time in Arizona only, here are the top five most underrated Cardinals (in no particular order).
1. Aeneas Williams, DB -- 1991-2000
This is simply a crime. Williams was arguably the most complete cornerback in football during his run with the Cardinals. Not as flashy or well known as Deion Sanders, his game featured one thing Prime Time's didn't: a willingness to actually hit somebody. Williams recorded 46 interceptions as a Cardinal --- taking six back for scores, while also recovering 14 fumbles, two of which he took back for six. One of those, which came against the Redskins after he scooped up a Stephen Davis fumble and took it back 104 yards for the touchdown, likely helped pave the way for University of Phoenix Stadium to be built. Williams made six Pro Bowls as a Cardinal, and two more as a St. Louis Ram, and the fact that he is not yet enshrined in Canton is pretty embarrassing.
2. Eric Swann, DT -- 1991-1999
Drafted sixth overall out of Wake Technical Community College, Swann was one of the single most-dominant players in the league. The 6-foot-5 defensive tackle terrorized defenses to the point of them resorting to
cheap questionable blocking tactics. Though often besieged by injuries, Swann tallied 45.5 sacks in nine years with the Cards and reached the Pro Bowl in 1995 and again in 1996. If only those knees would have held up.
3. Larry Centers, FB -- 1990-1998
If you looked hard enough at the early-to-mid-90s Cardinals, you could find a bright spot or two. But you had to look really hard. Centers, who was listed as a fullback, was more like a security blanky. Not much of a runner, the fifth-round pick out of Stephen F. Austin was an incredible receiver out of the backfield. Beginning in 1992, Centers posted at least 50 catches in 10 consecutive seasons, the first seven of which came in Arizona. His 101 receptions were ninth in the NFL in 1995 and his 99 ranked fourth in 1996. Centers made two Pro Bowls as a Cardinal, and one as a Buffalo Bill, and will always be immortalized in the movie Jerry Maguire as well as the jersey that hangs in this writer's closet.
4. Tito Paul, DB -- 1995-1997
Kidding, just wanted to see if you were paying attention.
4. Frank Sanders, WR -- 1995-2002
Frank Sanders was about as solid as they came. A second-round pick out of Auburn, he was a rock on some pretty mediocre offenses, not missing so much as one game through his first six NFL seasons. Sanders caught a total of 493 passes for 6,579 yards and 24 touchdowns, often playing as the team's number two option. Sanders was second in the NFL with 89 receptions in 1998, and while he somehow managed just one score on 79 catches in 1999, he provided the team with a level of consistency it in a time when it had very little.
5. Levi Brown, OL -- 2007-present
Look, I get it. For a player selected number five overall, and ahead of studs like Adrian Peterson and Patrick Willis, Brown is a disappointment. However, he has provided the team with consistent, if not great, play from both tackle spots, and his absence due to a torn triceps in 2012 was very noticeable. Brown has been a mainstay along the offensive line for pretty much his entire career. While not worthy of the spot he was drafted, Brown has been consistently solid, and people seem to allow their disappointment over what he is not cloud their judgment of what he is.