The National Football League has a love affair with the NFC East. Whether the teams in it are good, bad, great, or awful, you can bet your bottom dollar that NFC East games will be thrust into primetime more often than not.
A big reason for the league’s prioritization of the NFC East is that it is a division full of historic teams that all play in large markets of the United States. Many great battles have occurred within this division which means a number of players have made their way through it.
On the latest episode of the NFC East Mixtape - a podcast that lives on both the Blogging The Boys and Bleeding Green Nation feeds that discusses this division - Brandon Lee Gowton and I discussed the most underrated players in the NFC East (we discussed overrated last week). We pick one player from each team’s offense and defense as well as a legacy pick.
For the purposes of this conversation here, we will be focusing on the legacy picks considering it is difficult to choose underrated players from a division that didn’t even have a team go .500 last year.
New York Giants: Amani Toomer
Choosing the legacy player that is the most overrated in New York Giants history was a fairly easy exercise, but this one was a bit more of a challenge. Incidentally BLG and I each picked Amani Toomer independently which suggests that he truly was respected from opposing fan bases.
Toomer played for the Giants for 13 years. 13! It definitely didn’t feel like that long. Drafted by the G-Men in 1996, he played in the NFL in the era before passing really took off which makes his production all the more impressive.
What production is that exactly? Consider that he had five straight seasons with over 1,000 receiving yards starting in 1999 (again, in a very different time for the game). He was part of the Giants team that lost Super Bowl XXXV and he had all of his accomplishments for a New York-based team. In spite of all the notoriety surrounding the Giants he never made a Pro Bowl. Not a single one!
Washington Football Team: Clinton Portis
History doesn’t exactly look back kindly on Washington trading a future Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive back for a running back; the perception of the running back position has shifted dramatically over the last five years or so (slightly before the Cowboys drafted Ezekiel Elliott).
While the Denver Broncos clearly won the trade, there is no question that Washington benefitted as well. Clinton Portis was acquired to be their workhorse, and while they didn’t exactly have a ton of success in the winning department, he was undeniably a huge asset for their team.
Portis ran for over 1,200 yards in four of his first five seasons with Washington. The cost of acquisition was certainly very high, especially in hindsight, but he hit the ground running with them (no pun intended). His production really dipped in his final years with the team, but he was exceptional for half of a decade and that’s noteworthy.
Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles: Terrell Owens
In talking about the Cowboys and Eagles the name Terrell Owens came up for both franchises. While polarizing, there is no question that T.O. was an elite wide receiver for multiple NFL franchises.
The point really sticks out more in terms of the Cowboys than it does the Eagles in my mind. Consider T.O.’s production with the two teams.
- Dallas Cowboys (3 seasons): 235 receptions, 3,587 receiving yards, 38 touchdowns
- Philadelphia Eagles (2 seasons): 124 receptions, 1,963 receiving yards, 20 touchdowns
38 touchdowns over three seasons is absolutely incredible; it is outright astounding when you consider that his first year with the Cowboys Owens was age 33.
There are a lot of people who feel a certain way about Terrell Owens, but there is no denying that he was elite as a wide receiver for both the Cowboys and the Eagles. He doesn’t get remembered as fondly as others which puts him in the underrated category.