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Was Tamba Hali's No. 64 Ranking Too Low?

Posted May 23, 2011

Chiefs OLB Tamba Hali was voted by his peers as the NFL's 64th-best player in 2011

Chiefs OLB Tamba Hali turned in a No. 64 overall ranking in The NFL Network’s Top 100 Players of 2011 List. The 61st-70th slots were revealed Sunday night with Chiefs G Brian Waters joining Hali in the run-down at No. 67. The list is determined by the votes of current NFL players.

The initial reaction, at least locally, seems to be that Hali was slighted with his ranking as the league’s 64th best player in the NFL today. It shouldn’t be.

First, the rankings are completely subjective. It’s impossible for each player to know everything about the league’s nearly 1,700 active participants week-in and week-out. Really, it’s a wonder that Hali came in as high as he did.

Yes, Tamba Hali has been a familiar name to those of us in Kansas City. We’ve watched him enter the league as a 4-3 defensive end, transition into a premier pass rusher as a 3-4 outside linebacker and force more fumbles than another other player in franchise history outside of Derrick Thomas and Neil Smith.

Hali has sacked 23 different quarterbacks over his first five NFL seasons and led the AFC with 14.5 sacks last year. But while Chiefs fans have been familiar with #91’s efforts, Hali hasn’t exactly been a household name to those outside the Midwest.

Name recognition is what most of these ranking are based on. It kind of reminds me of the all-star balloting for Major League Baseball. Players like Ken Griffey, Jr. would repeatedly make all-star rosters despite dramatic drops in production. A large part of the balloting was based off past production and name recognition.

In the case of NFL’s Top 100 balloting, it’s the player voting on name recognition – not the fans.

How else would anyone explain the inclusion of Cowboys QB Tony Romo on this year’s list at No. 72? Nothing against Romo, but 2010 production is supposed to play a large factor in making up this list, right?

Romo played in only six games because of injury last season.

Hali is anything but a self-promoter. This is a guy who opts for a reserved profile and turned down his first Pro Bowl invite this past January. Had he accepted that nomination as an injury replacement, and been part of this year’s festivities, his Top 100 ranking might have increased.

He didn’t participate. His ranking didn’t increase. It doesn’t really matter.

Hali’s 2010 season was nothing short of remarkable. While the Chiefs dramatically improved the pass rush – an increased sack total of 77.3% - it was Hali who dominated the attention of opponents’ protection assignments and still turned in a career year.

Despite the increased attention, Hali finished just 1.0 QB takedown behind Dallas’ Demarcus Ware for the NFL sack crown. Ware needed 3.0 sacks in Week 17 to secure the title.

Remember, it wasn’t long ago that the Chiefs set the NFL’s futility mark with just 10.0 sacks in 2008.

Hali’s ranking is fair. No matter which way its cut, anyone who makes the Top 100 list is among the elite 6% of all current NFL players. Hali nearly cracked the upper 3%.

As for Waters’ ranking, make of it what you will. Among his peers, he’s one of the most respected offensive linemen in the game. Any time an interior offensive lineman can crack the top-100 list, it’s impressive.

The Chiefs are believed to have two more players on the Top 100 list – likely Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe. In addition to Hali and Waters, Eric Berry previously came in at No. 93.

The 51st-60th rankings will be unveiled this Sunday night on The NFL Network at 7:00 PM CST.

In Other Honors…

Chiefs seventh-round draft pick Shane Bannon was one of five seniors honored at Yale’s annual Senior Student-Athlete Reception over the weekend. Bannon, along with Annie Killian of the women’s swimming and diving team, was the recipient of the Meyer Humanitarian Award.

Bannon was awarded the honor because of his commitment to the annual Mandi Schwartz Marrow Donor Registration Drive at Yale.

According to Yale, the football team added 2,500 potential donors to the Be The Match Registry for patients with life-threatening illnesses in need of genetic matches for transplants. Bannon is a member of Calhoun College, the same college that Yale women’s ice hockey player Mandi Schwartz was in prior to passing away this past April after battling leukemia for more than two years.

Yale has led the nation in registrants each year, and to date six genetic matches for patients in need of transplants have been identified through the Bulldogs’ efforts.

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