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Giants not ruling Eli Manning out for 2020 season

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Overshadowed by his older brother Peyton and occasional Super Bowl counterpart Tom Brady, Eli Manning has still put together an impressive career. After all, how many quarterbacks can say they have led their teams to two Super Bowl victories? He’s at the tail end of his career, but with the weapons he has at his disposal, Manning could be primed for one more big season.

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

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It takes watching a team week in and week out to truly gain appreciation for an offensive tackle. That’s why Peters is a bigger deal in Philly than the rest of the league. He’s an all-time great left tackle, probably headed to Canton when he retires. How many people who aren’t Eagles fans recognize him as such a talent, though?

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

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Crowder is no star, but he’s provided stability to a Washington receiving corps that has sorely needed it. He’s only missed one game in his career, and he’s had at least 59 receptions for at least 604 yards every season. Crowder is exactly the kind of dependable player who gains admiration from local fans but flies under the general radar.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

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Fitzgerald is perhaps the most-beloved Cardinal of all time. He’s earned that, as the receiver who has spent his entire career with Arizona is primed to make the Hall of Fame some day. Though his team has often been out of the spotlight, the Pittsburgh product has put up huge numbers with more than 1,200 receptions in his career, and he’s still going strong. How many people outside Phoenix realize that?


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Due to a major roster turnover this offseason, there are a lot of Rams who even the team’s fans haven’t latched on to yet. Donald is a different story though. He’s the best defensive player in the league, as any L.A. fan will be glad to tell you. However, casual NFL fans may not even know his name — or at least have no idea just how good he is. He’s stunningly good. We should all admire him as much as Rams fans do.

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

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Jimmy G represents hope for the Niners. How could fans of other teams love him as much as San Fran’s do? When he took over under center, the franchise turned things around entirely. Garoppolo-mania is taking over in the Bay. If he can get the Niners back to the playoffs, he will attain folk hero status.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

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Middle linebackers don’t get a lot of love on the national level. Meanwhile, there are Seahawks fans who will tell you it is a crime that Wagner hasn’t been Defensive Player of the Year before. Though he wasn’t a member of the Legion of Boom, Wagner’s importance to the Seattle defense hasn’t been overlooked by the locals.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

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The Bears are in the early stages of the rebuild, which means a lot of fairly new faces. At least they still have Howard around. He’s quietly run for over 1,100 yards in both seasons of his career, and he had nine touchdowns last year. Chicago fans don’t know what they have in Mitchell Trubisky, but they know they can rely on Howard.

Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

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Before Stafford was drafted first overall, the Lions had a period of, well, frankly decades with quarterback issues. Since then, Stafford has provided stability at worst and genuinely above-average quarterback play at his peak. Lions fans love him for that, and nobody outside the fan base will ever appreciate him in the same way.

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

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There was a time when Matthews was in the national eye, but that time has passed. However, his glory days haven’t been forgotten by Green Bay, and he still had 7.5 sacks last season. He’s played his entire career with the Packers, and that matters in a small town like Green Bay. His legacy lingers there.

Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

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Who was it that caught the amazing game-winning catch in the playoff game against the Saints? That would be Diggs, who instantly conveyed hero status upon himself by doing that. He also has 200 receptions for 2,472 yards over 40 career games, so he’s not a one-catch wonder. Diggs is an underappreciated receiver, known mostly to football obsessives and, of course, Vikings fans.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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Matt Ryan and Julio Jones are the big names, but Falcons fans know how important Freeman has been to their offense as well. In 2015 and 2016, he had 11 rushing touchdowns in each season, and he has 193 career receptions as well. Running backs can be overlooked in this pass-crazy era, but Freeman doesn’t get overlooked by the good folks of Atlanta.

James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

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Davis has been a Panther since 2005. He’s done a ton for the community there, winning the Walton Payton Man of the Year Award even. On top of that, he’s been a great linebacker who has fought through injuries to keep his career going. He’s earned the love of every Carolina fan.

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

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The Saints are known league-wide for their offense led by Drew Brees. Their defense is an afterthought to most. As such, unless you root for New Orleans you may have overlooked Jordan. He’s picked up 59.5 sacks in his career and has three seasons with double-digit sacks, including 13 in 2017. This team isn’t just about Brees, which any Saints fan could have told you.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

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Drafted one pick after Ndamukong Suh, McCoy is used to being in the shadows. Well, he’s operated quite well in semi-obscurity, even though he is a six-time Pro Bowler. Still, how many fans know that? Bucs fans know that McCoy has been the centerpiece of the Tampa defense since he was drafted. Meanwhile, Suh is on his third team in his career.

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

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Williams was drafted by the Bills in 2006, and he’s been with the team ever since. Through it all, he’s been an anchor for Buffalo’s defense in good times and bad, and there has been plenty of bad for Buffalo. He’s adored for staying in town by Bills fans, even if the 35-year-old is clearly on the downside of his career.

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

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The Dolphins were the toughest team to find a player for thanks to a mix of constant roster turnover and overall crumminess. The defense feels almost entirely brand new, and is anybody in love with Ryan Tannehill? Matt Moore isn’t even around any longer. So the default choice is Stills, who has been good for Miami for two seasons. At least he’s a player who fans can recognize.

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

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In many areas of the country, Brady is polarizing. He does not polarize Patriots fans. They defended him during Deflategate. They are always on his side. To the people of New England, Brady is almost a living god at this point.

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

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As a defensive end in a 3-4 defense, Williams doesn’t necessarily get a ton of attention. However, he has already been to a Pro Bowl, and he’s one of the only good players on the Jets who have been around for more than a season. New York fans are hoping Sam Darnold will be their hero soon enough, but for now the Jet who doesn’t get enough love around the country is Williams.

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

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When Harris was picked up as an undrafted free agent out of Kansas, nobody realized that he would become one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL. In fact, there are probably a lot of fans outside Denver who still don’t realize that. During the heyday of the Broncos secondary, he was overshadowed by Aqib Talib and his antics. The folks who root for the Broncos know what they have in Harris, though. Von Miller is the flashy player on Denver’s defense, but true fans don’t overlook Harris.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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Berry has been through so much as a Chief. Injuries and cancer have derailed his career, but he has always come back to Kansas City to keep the dream alive. When he was drafted, he enthusiastically celebrated becoming a Chief. Fans have reciprocated that enthusiasm ever since.

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

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Rivers has been forever overshadowed by the impressive collection of quarterbacks of his era. He replaced Drew Brees, who has gone on to win a Super Bowl in New Orleans, and he was famously traded for Eli Manning, who has won two Super Bowls with the Giants. Chargers fans have watched Rivers play in 196 games with the franchise and throw 342 touchdowns. The one place he hasn’t gotten overlooked is Los Angeles. Well, Los Angeles and San Diego.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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Raiders fans have a lot to love in Mack. He’s already been Defensive Player of the Year once. Mack has been Oakland’s best player basically since he was drafted, and the fans in the Black Hole have grabbed on to him with gusto. The general NFL fan knows he’s good. A lot of Raiders fans will tell you he’s the best defensive player period.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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Unless you root for a team, you don’t care about the kicker. In fact, a lot of NFL fans probably can’t name the kicker for about half the teams in the league. Ravens fans don’t want to imagine a world without Tucker on the team, though. His big leg and clutch kicks have been huge for Baltimore over the years. That has earned him plenty of love locally, even if most people in the world couldn’t pick out his photo in a lineup.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

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It feels like Green has been almost forgotten by the league as a whole. That definitely isn’t the case in Cincinnati. He remains the best player on the Cincy offense, and fans wouldn’t know what to do without him. NFL fans at large may be overlooking Green, but he will always remain in the hearts of Bengals fans.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

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How can a fan base love a player before he’s even played a game? Well, when you are a Browns fan, how could you not get excited about the quarterback who might finally turn things around for you? Mayfield represents hope for Cleveland. The team has won exactly one game over the last two seasons combined. How could you latch on to a player from a roster that did that? Mayfield remains untainted… for now.

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

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Everybody knows Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell are awesome. If you don’t wave a Terrible Towel, though, you might not realize just how important Pouncey has been to this team. The center has been to six Pro Bowls and been All-Pro four times. Pittsburgh fans pride themselves on their football knowledge, so they are exactly the kind of fan base who appreciate reliable offensive line work.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

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Watson was only able to play in seven games, and start six, before going down with an injury last season. That was enough to convince Texans fans that the Clemson product is their future. The quarterback was incredibly dynamic, and Houston fans are excited about what he can do. Fans of other teams may catch on with Watson in time, but he’s already loved in Houston.

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

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Well, it certainly wasn’t going to be anybody on the Indianapolis defense, and Andrew Luck still has everybody worried. There is nothing to worry about with Hilton, though. He’s been over 1,000 yards four times in six seasons, and he had 966 yards last year. He’s quietly one of the better receivers in the league, and any Colts fan could certainly tell you that.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

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Eventually, Ramsey is going to be a household name in the NFL, but that can be hard to do when you are playing in Jacksonville. Jaguars fans already can’t get enough of the cornerback, though. He’s still young, but he could end up being the best defensive back in the league at some point. That will make him a point of frustration to fans of other teams but even more adored in Jacksonville.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

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Lewan signed a contract this offseason making him the highest-paid offensive lineman in the league. Titans fans will tell you he’s worth it. The Michigan product has been a Pro Bowler the last two seasons, and he plays left tackle with a fervor and aggressiveness football fans tend to love. Also, at a Predators game he drank beer out of a catfish. What’s not to love?

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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NFL players who deserve more respect around the league

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