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Most Liked (and Most Disliked) NFL Players of 2012: Does this mean anything, really?

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Leadership is not just about titles. The case can be made that every person on a team is a leader. In keeping with this idea, everyone’s brand can impact the team – the morale and the performance alike. But does it really? Let’s take the NFL’s latest most liked (and least liked) players of the year list as compiled by Nielsen and E-Poll Market Research and see if the aforementioned supposition holds.

Most Liked NFL Players                                                Most Disliked NFL Players

1. Troy Polamalu, Steelers, (63 percent)                          1. Ndamukong Suh, Lions (19 percent)

2. Drew Brees, Saints, (62 percent)                                   2. Jay Cutler, Bears, (21 percent)

3. Charles Woodson, Packers (62 percent)                     3. Michael Vick, Eagles, (23 percent)

4. Peyton Manning, Broncos (59 percent)                       4. Randy Moss, 49ers, (24 percent)

5. Aaron Rodgers, Packers (58 percent)                           5. Matt Leinart, Raiders (26 percent).

Hypothesis: Is there a correlation between winningest team and the most liked players? Let’s see. Atlanta Falcons are the winningest team and only remaining undefeated team in the NFL with a 6-0 record. The Falcons aren’t represented on either Top 5 list. The most liked player is Troy Polamalu,  or as I call him Troy “Long hair, don’t care” Peezy. Troy  is on the Steelers, and they are sort of middle of the road in terms of their record, 3-3 with a 12th place power ranking on several lists. Meanwhile, the Packers (with 2 of the 5 most liked players) fare somewhat better; they sit at no 5 on many power rankings with a 4-3 record. That leaves Mr Peyton Manning. He is no 3 on the most liked list and the Bronco’s, like the Steelers, are 3-3 but one spot above the Steelers in the power rankings at no. 11. So, being well liked appears to be somewhat helpful towards winning.

Conversely, Jay Cutler totally debunks the notion of most disliked player and capital “L” loser team. His team is ranked consistently at no 3 on power rankings with a 5-1 record so far. Jay is no 2 on the most disliked list. While Vick, another QB, is not doing so well in terms of winning with a 3-3 season and is no 17 on power rankings. The 49ners are represented on the downside with Randy Moss making an appearance on the disliked list but they are close to the top of the winning record teams with a 5-2 showing. Matt Leinart is no 5 on the most disliked list so he was the best of the worst in this regard, but he is on the 2nd worst team in terms of power rankings  at 31 out of 32 teams in the NFL with a 2-4 record. That leaves Ndamukong Suh. He is the most disliked player this year. I think everyone knows why, but dirty hits are predominately to blame if you are not aware of his antics on and off the field. The Lions are 24th on the power rankings with a 2-4 record. Even though there are more losing records than winning records here; the winning records are pretty darn good. Hmm?

So, does a “disliked player” make a losing team and does a “most liked” player make a winning one? Well, as you can see we are left with a mixed bag in terms of trying to make a prediction based on this list and the team’s overall performance. There are just too many other spurious and non-spurious factors that coalesce together to give a team the big W to have this single factor create a 1:1 ratio between being well liked and winning and vice versa. However, we do see that a player’s brand is not just a superficial concept. It actually translates not necessarily into wins  or losses on the field all the time,  but it can definitely have  financial, cultural, and social implications for sure. Still, Ndamukong Suh is not doing himself or his team a favor with his bad behavior and subsequent “dirty playmaker” brand. So, even if the Suh’s Lions lose more games this season, if Suh gave his brand a more positive reboot, his brand is one less loss they have to worry about.


Watch the stomp heard ’round the world and lend your opinion to the list above. Do you think Suh earned his spot? :

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