Sports journalists such as myself tend to think we know a lot about the topics we cover — but who knows better what it feels like to be hit in the face by Mike Tyson than Michael Spinks?
This is the thought behind the inaugural NFLPA’s Players’ All-Pro Team — which has branded itself as the only list that is, ‘For the Players, by The Players.’
We compete against each other all season long, watching hours and hours of film week after week after week, and yet we have never had an opportunity to truly use our expertise to select the best of us. We think it is important that players take the time to define ourselves, because so far, we have allowed everyone else to either pick or dilute our voices.
The note describes the flawed nature of other all-star or recognition systems that the NFL and media members have in place. They are either not selected by active players or active players only represent a fraction of the voting total, or, in the case of the NFL Top 100, there is an inherent problem with trying to compare all NFL players on a linear list.
How do you compare Kansas City Chiefs center Creed Humprey, for instance, to quarterback Patrick Mahomes? It’s not even comparing apples to oranges; it’s like comparing a sledgehammer to a rocket launcher.
To correct this, the NFLPA and its players outlined a simple set of rules to determine how voting works.
Only active NFL players can vote and they get only one vote.
If a player missed five or more games as of Week 15, then they are ineligible. This is to ensure that we are choosing the best players who had the most impact this season. Being available counts.
Players cannot vote for themselves or for their own teammates
Players vote for the position group they play in and line up against.
For example, centers can vote for:
The best Center in the league
The best nose tackle in the league
The best Interior defensive lineman in the league
The best off-ball linebacker in the league
We had each various player leaders from each team nominate their two best special teams players (or “core teamers”) for the ballot. We wanted the locker rooms to decide who should represent their team in that position.
The Chiefs are tied with the San Fransisco 49ers as the team with the most players selected at four. Here are the Chiefs who made the list:
1. Patrick Mahomes
Mahomes is racking up accolades this season. On top of being named a Players’ All-Pro, he is also the frontrunner for the NFL MVP and, potentially, the Super Bowl MVP.
He led the league in passing yards and touchdowns and broke the NFL record for total yards from scrimmage in a season. To say he’s having a good year is like saying Elon Musk is only kind of rich.
2. Travis Kelce
Despite ending the season by fasting from scoring touchdowns for six straight weeks, Travis Kelce still led all tight ends in scoring with 12 touchdowns, which was also good enough for second amongst all receivers, trailing only Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams who had 14.
Kelce also led all tight ends in receiving yards and passed NFL Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe to move up to fourth place on the NFL’s list of all-time receiving yards by a tight end.
3. Chris Jones
Jones led all interior defensive linemen in sacks in 2022 with 15.5, which totaled 106 negative yards for opposing teams. Jones beat the opposing team's quarterback up and down the field.
Very few NFL players have the same mix of size, speed, power and quickness off the snap as Jones. He’s a matchup nightmare for any interior offensive lineman who has to go up against him, and he often draws a double team in an attempt to stop him, so it’s no surprise his peers voted for him.
4. Tommy Townsend
This is a big win for all of the “Townsend Truthers” out there. Townsend led the league in net yards per punt at 45.6 and tied for the second-longest punt of the year when he kicked a 76-yarder in Week 14 against the Denver Broncos.
He also landed 22 of his 53 punts inside the 20-yard line and has arguably the best head of hair in the NFL. Townsend definitely pulls off the look better than Quinn Meinerz — that’s for sure.
The bottom line
While it’s always fun to see players on your team earn accolades, the NFLPA Players’ All-Pro team may have landed on the most accurate and legitimate way to make a list of the best players in the league at their position.
The fact there are so many Chiefs on it speaks highly of the roster that general manager Brett Veach and head coach Andy Reid have constructed, and it speaks even more highly of the players and their dedication to their craft.