NFL Network has nearly finished unveiling its list of the top 100 players in the NFL for 2013, as voted by the players themselves. I try not to pay too much attention to it, because I have seen how seriously some players take the voting. I won't elaborate, but let's just say throwing darts at a dartboard might improve the process.
Still, I was surprised last night when I read that Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco had jumped up to 19th on the list.
This has nothing to do with how I feel about Flacco as a player. I wouldn't have him in my top 20, but I have long thought he was capable of becoming an elite quarterback -- I have buckets of spilled digital ink from the past couple of years to prove it -- and he is one now that he led the Ravens to their second Super Bowl title.
No, his ranking surprised me for a couple of other reasons.
For one, just two years ago, I spent the offseason transcribing interviews of NFL players such as LaMarr Woodley and Dhani Jones, who ripped Flacco publicly after just his third season. Now, Flacco is getting a lot of love from his fellow players.
Second, it's my understanding that most of the voting is conducted during the regular season, though voting officially ends in April. I know the Ravens players filled out their ballots sometime during the second half of the season. So that likely means that Flacco had already grown on his NFL peers before he threw 11 touchdown passes in the postseason and was named Super Bowl MVP.
Still, no matter when the voting took place, it's another example of how perceptions have changed when it comes to Flacco.
Of course, some of my peers are already questioning Flacco's ranking, so not everyone's perception has changed, I guess.