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Is Nnamdi Asomugha better than Darrelle Revis?

One of the biggest challenges for any sports fan is arguing for your guy without coming off biased. I’ve become an expert at this growing up a Lakers fan. After years of fair criticism and due praise of Kobe, I’ve been told by numerous folks that I’m “The most tolerable Lakers fan that I know.” I’ve become accustomed to this kind of argument, because it’s been an easy one to make. He’s a great perimeter player on a championship team who makes some glaring mistakes from time to time -- but despite his “flaws,” I’m always able to point to the fact that his ways have won championships (I know, I sound like THAT guy right now.)

Now how do I make the same argument for a guy whose team has not finished a regular season over .500 for his whole career? How do I convince you that he’s just as good as the guy who was voted a top-three player, and the highest rated at their respective positions? How do I make you understand that what Nnamdi Asomugha does is just as impressive as what Darrelle Revis does without coming off as the bitter Raiders fan who thinks his guy should be in the ETSF Top Ten?

As far as I’m concerned, it can’t be done.

There were 11 ballots and Nnamdi only made the cut on four of them. In yesterday’s post, 11 of you commented and not one word was said about Nnamdi not making the Top Ten. Hell, even his peers didn’t vote him into the Top Ten. The people have spoken, and the people made a collective statement. That statement boldly says that Darelle Revis is a better cornerback than Nnamdi Asomugha. And you know what, I’m okay with this sentiment. I can’t convince you that he’s as good or better than Revis, but I can’t live with the fact that the gap between the two is so great -- especially since Revis is coming off what was easily the worst season of his young career.

I’m not going to say that Nnamdi deserved to be in the Top Ten, but the fact that Revis was number three on the list while Nnamdi sat in the bottom quadrant of the Top 20 is the kind of travesty only a fan of the guy slighted would recognize. I saw the list and immediately thought, “there is no way in hell Revis is 12 spots better than Nnamdi.”

I can run off the numbers you’re all expecting me to: Revis thrown to 111 times this past season. The Great Charles Woodson was thrown at 109 times this past season. Nnamdi was thrown at 83 times -- IN THE PAST THREE SEASONS. Quarterbacks have been horrified to throw at Nnamdi in recent years, not seeing 30 balls thrown his way in any of the last three years. In each of those same seasons, he didn’t allow more than 10 receptions on his watch. Furthermore, Nnamdi didn’t allow one touchdown during the whole 2010 season. The man has damn near perfected the art of being a human blanket -- but he isn’t without flaws.

One of the things that I love most about Revis isn’t his ability to cover, but his ability to make tackles in open space. If I were to give Revis the nod over Nnamdi, it would be because Nnamdi tends to only tackle when he’s forced to. The man only recorded more than 50 tackles once in his career while Revis recorded 85 in his rookie season. Revis has in innate ability to make plays. I could say that he has more opportunities to make them, but one would be foolish to knock a man for opening the conjectural door opportunity knocked. Revis is a very good cover corner, has an advanced athleticism for his position and is prolific when he does get his hands on a pass targeted for the man opposite of him.

I like Darrelle Revis.

Hell, I love watching him play. But with that said, he isn’t 12 spots better than Nnamdi and sure as hell isn’t the third-best football player in the NFL because, if for no other reason, he ain’t ever got burnt off the line like this in his career. Ever.

Much like Charles Woodson, the Raiders are destined to lose another great corner in Nnamdi, and wherever he goes, he’s bound to make an immediate impact. I’ve seen his name linked to teams like the Texans, Ravens, Eagles, Cowboys, 49ers, Packers, Giants and the Falcons. While not all of those are realistic options (can you imagine adding him to that Packers defense? Oh boy!), more teams will show interest in Nnamdi and with reason.

If you feel Revis is a better footballer, I’m not mad at you. But you have to give Nnamdi some love. There just isn’t a better cover corner in the NFL right now, and with Revis recording zero interceptions in 2010, whatever distance there was between the two had to close significantly. Nnamdi isn’t the greatest playmaker, but that alone doesn’t make him 12 spots worse than Revis.

(p.s. My old roommate, a guy who hates the Raiders with all of the passions in the world, nicknamed Nnamdi “Asomugha Asylum” because receivers “go crazy” when they’re on his side. I’d like to present said nickname to the delegation for review to become permanent.)

(p.s.s. I’d probably have The Great Charles Woodson above both of these cats. He’s pretty much an Asylum/Island combo who’s a captain on a Super Bowl-winning defense. How he was number 18 on the list is beyond me.)

-P. Barnett


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