Who is the NFL's best player?
It's a difficult question given the scores of stars in the league, the vastly differing and incomparable positions they play, and the interminable debates centered on stats vs. rings.
Yet when it comes to numbers and hardware, Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers has both. So it came as little surprise that the NFL's reigning MVP was voted No. 1 to cap The Top 100 Players of 2012, a 10-part NFL Network series determined by the votes of active players.
"It's very humbling, it's a great honor," Rodgers said Wednesday night on NFLN after his ranking was revealed (he was No. 11 last year).
"Any time you're recognized with that professional respect from your peers, that really means a lot to me. So I gotta thank them for the votes."
After earning Super Bowl XLV MVP honors to finish the 2010 season, Rodgers led the Packers to a league-best 15-1 ledger in 2011 and set a single-season record for passer rating (122.5) after throwing for 4,643 yards and 45 TDs (vs. just 6 INTs) in only 15 games. He didn't set as many new marks as New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees did in 2011 but again came out on top after the players ranked Brees at No. 2.
Though Rodgers was unable to lead the Pack to a Super Bowl repeat, he did bag another honor that further differentiates his expanding resume from that of Brett Favre, the legendary predecessor many thought Rodgers could never successfully replace in Titletown.
But the current top dog in the NFL has a reasonable shot to become the best quarterback, if not best the best player, in the storied history of the Packers.
Other noteworthy items include Detroit Lions WR Calvin "Megatron" Johnson finishing as the top non-quarterback, New York Jets CB Darrelle Revis ranking as the top defender, and Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson earning top tailback honors despite his rash of injuries (including a torn ACL and MCL) in 2011.
One Hall of Famer who wasn't necessarily on board with the series' outcome was NFLN analyst Deion Sanders, who said: "Why are the quarterbacks always in the front of the line? For everything? I don't understand that."
Here's the entire top 10:
1. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
2. Drew Brees, QB, Saints
3. Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions
4. Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
5. Darrelle Revis, CB, Jets
6. DeMarcus Ware, OLB, Cowboys
7. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals
8. Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings
9. Haloti Ngata, DL, Ravens
10. Patrick Willis, ILB, 49ers
By Nate Davis