There's no surer way to get attention when you're talking about sports than to make a list.
You're sure to generate attention by ranking someone too high, too low or by leaving them off the list altogether. You'd like to think such things are honest and the listmaker is just expressing their own opinion, but every now and then you run across one that just seems too obvious an error to be explained as anything other than an attempt to draw eyeballs.
The list of the top 50 players in the NFL at midseason put together by Scouts Inc. (subscription needed) is just such a list. They don't include Eli Manning which seems like a particularly egregious bit of ranking.
You might recall there being a bit of a stir when Manning didn't make the NFL Network's top 100 list before the season, especially when Donovan McNabb, coming off an awful year that saw him benched by the Redskins, earned a spot on the list. That seemed wrong given how much of a load Manning carried for the team over the last two years, but with all the interceptions in 2010 you could understand his omission.
Saying the same about not including Manning on such a list after the first eight games of this season, though? Hard to figure, especially when you see names like Philip Rivers, Trent Cole, Justin Tuck and Santonio Holmes on the list.
Cole and Tuck are both outstanding players, but they've both missed significant amounts of time this season with injuries that have kept them out of the lineup and limited their effectiveness at times when they've been on the field. Tuck, in particular, has yet to make a major impact this season and has been, at best, the Giants' third most productive defensive lineman.
Holmes has made more headlines for complaining off the field than anything he's done off of it. Rivers, meanwhile, is having the same kind of season that Manning had last year where his moments of good play are being totally overshadowed by his inability to avoid gamebreaking interceptions for an underachieving Chargers team.
It is stated right up front that while this year's production weighs heavily, the list takes into account what's happened in past seasons. So where is Chris Johnson, the Titans running back who was considered one of the two best backs in the league before cratering this season after signing a huge contract?
Matt Forte, who is having a great year after two mediocre ones, is on the list and so is Jake Long, who has been bad this year after several good years as the Dolphins left tackle. Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake was dominant last year, but was a part-time player in 2009 and has been inconsequential this season, but he too makes the list.
Even inconsistent criteria doesn't explain it because Manning qualifies no matter which way you weigh things. Given how much air time the idea of an East Coast bias gets in sports, Manning might be pulling off the most remarkable feat in the world by actually being underrated while playing the highest profile position in sports for a winning team in New York.