A List About Why Lists Do Not Mean Anything, Including the One Joe Flacco is On

July 09, 2012 | Andrew Tomlinson

Lately there has been a lot discussion about lists, who should be on them, where people should be placed and whether or not Joe Flacco deserves to be ahead of other quarterbacks. Oops, looks like I let it slip which specific list I was talking about. Well this is a list about why lists, including Ron Jaworski’s quarterback list, do not matter.

3. When was the last time a spot on a list won anything? 

Now, the question is not when was the last time they guy at a certain spot on a list won anything, but instead the number itself. Obviously this is a facetious question, but it is a valid point that a number has never won anything. All it is, is a subjective ranking about where a player should be valued. Same goes for this ridiculous quarterback list everyone is in a buzz about.

Is Flacco the ninth-best quarterback in the league? Some would say yes and some would say no. A question like, is Flacco a quarterback who can lead his team to a title, would probably result in more yes answers than no answers though. For lists, it is all about phrasing and at the end of the day, the number nine is not going to win a single game for the Ravens, Flacco will and that is what fans need to remember.

2. Lists are only relevant for as long as you look at them.

Everyone seems to have a list now. NFL.com and the NFL Network has a Top-100 list. ESPN has lists, blogs have lists and random people make lists. So if so many people have lists, then chances are, lists probably are not that accurate of a predictor of performance. If lists from the previously named publications were so good, then they shouldn’t need to be updated yearly or monthly and no one else should ever have to make one.

The truth is, lists change, value changes and where someone falls on a list is not a predictor of how they are going to perform next year, when it really matters. Take the NFL Top-100 list for instance, which last year placed 12-quarterbacks somewhere between 1-100. None of them though, were Eli Manning, the now two-time Super Bowl Champion. So if lists are something to get all worked up about, then why is it they seem to so often be out of date just months after they come out?

1. You can always find a way to back up a list’s ranking.

Lists are usually based on statistics and if I remember anything from my college writing seminars, it is that there is a statistic to back up every point. Whether it is passer rating, passing yards, passing yards subtracted from yards after the catch, touchdown-to-interception ratio, red zone efficiency, etc., there is a stat to make one quarterback look better than the other no matter who you put at number-one and number-thirty.

This may be a dagger to the heart of some sabermatricians out there, but in no way should statistics alter what you see with your own two eyes. Yes, there are players who have put up impressive numbers, but they may not have ever led a clutch drive in the entire season to win a game. Aren’t the best players supposed to be the ones who perform at the highest level when it counts most? So if you are constantly digging your fingernails into the table when a quarterback throws a pass, chances are they probably aren’t as good as their stats might suggest.

At the end of the day lists are fun, that is all they are because it is almost impossible to tell the list-maker they got it wrong. Everyone has an opinion, these lists are just a few peoples thoughts on the league. Lists are good to pass the time in the offseason, but when it really matters in the regular season, there is not going to be a list to help each player succeed.