Bradley’s Buzz: Overrated = DeAngelo, Brooking and Vick

No. 7 is No. 2 on ESPN’s list

It’s the most loaded word in the lexicon of sports, and it’s not “steroids.” It’s “overrated.” Use it and you’ll start an argument. Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders, writing for’s Insiders Web site, starts 25 arguments in one fell swoop, listing the most overrated NFL players of the past decade. (Link requires registration.)

DeShaun Foster holds the unenviable No. 1 spot, and I wouldn’t object: I’ve never seen him as anything more than an average tailback. But DeShaun Foster isn’t why we’re here. We’re here to identify the three former Falcons who cracked Schatz’s top 11, presented here — with Schatz’s full commentary — in descending order:

2. Michael Vick: Even before Vick’s sordid off-field activities came to light, he was a disappointing No. 1 overall pick. Vick was a great runner, sure, but when he dropped back to pass, he turned into Tyler Thigpen or Derek Anderson, quarterbacks who are close to Vick’s career averages of 6.7 yards per pass attempt, 1.4 touchdowns for every interception and 52.8 completion percentage. His upside at this point is “Best Wildcat Quarterback,” not best NFL quarterback.

10. DeAngelo Hall: There is a difference between an athlete and a football player, and Hall is a prime example. He looks amazing, thanks to his athletic skills (primarily speed), so you don’t notice when guys catch 100 yards worth of hooks and slants on him. Washington gave him a huge contract based on half a season, apparently ignoring the miserable player he was for Oakland and the only slightly above-average player he was for Atlanta. (In his defense, our research has shown that there are only two players this decade whose success on turnover returns is more than just statistical noise: Hall and Ed Reed.)

11. Keith Brooking: A good outside linebacker whose skills don’t fit well as a 4-3 middle linebacker, but year after year he was forced back into the middle by injuries to other Falcons linebackers. His biggest problems came in pass coverage, one reason why the Falcons ranked among the worst defenses against opposing tight ends for the entire decade.

Which former Falcon was most overrated?

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My take: I always though D-Hall yielded as many big plays as he made, and his excesses — the three penalties on one Carolina drive in 2007 being the most egregious example — undercut his obvious talent. I never thought Brooking was as overblown as you bloggers insisted, but neither did I believe he was nearly as good a linebacker as Jessie Tuggle, either. As for the other guy:

I’ll have to disagree. On Dec. 23, 2004, Arthur Blank — who had just bestowed that $130 million contract on Vick — said: “Michael wins the way he wins.” And that winning, at least from 2002 through 2004, wasn’t really a function of his passing numbers. He terrified defenses in a way no other quarterback ever has. And if you say, “Well, he wasn’t really a quarterback,” I’ll disagree with that, too.

I say again: Vick was miscast as administrator of the West Coast Offense, but he still managed to keep his team vibrant until the end of the Mora/Knapp reign of error. And we’ll always wonder what Vick coulda/woulda done under Bobby Petrino, who was so enthused by his new student he told a Falcon bigwig he believed the team would average — average — 30 points a game.

Some of you, I realize, might see it differently. And while you’re mounting your rebuttal …

A couple of more nuggets regarding MV7

According to Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports, Vick might not be playing in the NFL again anytime soon. Quoting unnamed sources, Cole reports that commissioner Roger Goodell is leaning toward extending Vick’s suspension through the 2009 season. Which could mean: Hello, UFL.

And it would be a shame if Vick couldn’t play in the NFL this season if for no other reason than USA Today’s Nate Davis just went to the trouble of breaking down all 32 league options.

(Oh, in case you missed it: Three Falcons also made Aaron Schatz’s rankings of the most underrated players of the past decade. Find out which three here.)

111 comments Add your comment

[...] reading: Mr. Schatz has thoughtfully compiled a companion list of the most overrated players of the past decade. The second name on it is an ex-Falcon. And Nos. 10 and 11 used to play here as well. All three of [...]

nola falcon fan

June 30th, 2009
10:42 am

Mark – (and I know the other bloggers will give me he*l over this) – thank god you are adapting to the new age of sports journailism. It seems like every day, you find a relevant, interesting topic and post a well written article on said issue. And then you spend tons of time (sometimes I wonder if you have much of a life!) responding to the comments of your readers. Well done sir.

Oh and I agree w/ your take on Vick. Go ask any DC who they’d rather prep for… a trad pocket passer or Vick?


June 30th, 2009
10:52 am

DeAngelo and Vick maybe but Brooking for sure!

Maxwell Snark

June 30th, 2009
10:55 am

For Vick to be the most effective quarterback he can be, it would take a coaching staff willing/brave enough to tailor an attack to his strengths. Will that ever happen? Who knows. The most Vick-like QB I ever saw previously was Tracy Ham, who posted CFL career numbers of 40,000-plus yards passing and more than 8,000 rushing.


June 30th, 2009
10:56 am

Did Favre make the over-rated list? Given all the drooling by the network sports announcers, if Favre did anything short of walking on water, he would have to be the most over-rated player in history.


June 30th, 2009
10:57 am

Yes, ask a defensive coordinator who they would rather game plan for, Vick or Tyler Thigpen. Everybody that knows Falcon football could see that many of the teams offensive problems centered around inept coaching (Mora, Knapp, Stewart (WR coach)), no power running game, and a putrid offensive line. It’s funny how Petrino and Co. felt like the offense could score 30 points a game with Vick after seeing him in OTAs back in 2007. As a watcher of the game, I have learned to form my opinion of a player based on the big picture and what I see on the field. I refuse to base ny opinion of a player off of some list contrived by a sportswriter that probably has never followed the franchise, pre or post Mike Vick. Afterall, the media is the main entity that “overrates” players anyway. The fans of the game know garbage when they see it and will let it be known. Unlike sportwriters who like to cozy up to certain players and constantly paint them as gods in there articles (see Brett Favre and Peter King with Tom Brady). Let the fans be a true measure of who is under-rated and overrated.

Here we go again

June 30th, 2009
10:58 am

I agree 100% on Hall, but disagree on Vick and Brooking…. man talk about a slow news NFL offseason

Mark Bradley

June 30th, 2009
10:59 am

Thanks, Nola.

And Favre did not make this list. Although he’d top mine.


June 30th, 2009
11:00 am

The smartest DC’s figured Vick out by 2006. Monty Kiffin formerly of the Bucs owned Vick. The fans were getting restless with the lack of performance and that is why the little jerk Petrino was brought in.

Paulie OldSchool

June 30th, 2009
11:00 am

Am I just mis-remembering or was Jessie Tuggle shunted aside so that Brooking could start at ILB? That’s what I seem to recall, that Jessie (great guy–talk about a team player, great MLB)–was forced into early retirement. Anyone clear that up for me? Otherwise, I completely agree with the list. If I could make it more than a decade and Falcons Only, I would add more names, but Ray “So-called Big Play” Buchanon would be at the top of that list.


June 30th, 2009
11:02 am

Mark, I posted my Vick comments before reading your article in it’s entirety. As you can see, I agree with you 100%. Great minds think a like, lol.

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

June 30th, 2009
11:03 am

1. D Foster 2. Vick 3. C Chambers 4.J Lewis 5. A Vinatieri, 6. R Bush (completely agree) 7. Ty Law 8. Stephen Alexander 9. Dante Hall 10. Hall 11. Brooking 12. Flo Adams 13. Simeon Rice (yes) 14 Terence Newman 15 Ruben Brown 16 Olin Kreutz 17 Willis McGahee 18 Nate Clements 19 Eric Moulds (and not Peerles Price?) 20 Freddy Jones 21 Damien Woody (how can anybody named Woody be overrated) 22 Roy Williams (he sux and went to 5 straight pro bowls, should be #1) 23 J Brown 24 Travis Henry (not overated with your local Police)25 All Denver Punters


June 30th, 2009
11:04 am

Vick had a good three year run, but the NFL defenses had completely caught up to him by 2005 and his strengths that he relied upon were no longer a strategic advantage. Think about this for a minute, every single time Vick went up agaisnt a good to elite level NFL defense, he was completely shut down and rendered completely impotent. I remember games against the Panthers, Eagles, Bucs, and Bears where Vick was completely helpless and hopeless and the Falcons offense could do absolutely nothing because he had no ability to make any plays consistently with his arm. Those defenses were able to complete shut down his running ability, and once that was accomplished, Vick had absolutely nothing else and the offense went in the tank. I was convinced after the 2004 NFC championship game against the Eagles that this was going to be as far as Vick could ever go and he would never lead a team to a superbowl, much less win one, because he simply wasn’t a good enough passing QB to lead a team in further. In order to win a superbowl (or at least make it to one), you have to have an equal threat and ability of beating a team passing the ball as well as running it, and with Vick, the Falcons, or any other NFL team, were not going to be able to do that.


June 30th, 2009
11:06 am


Kinda shocked you “went there” with the whole Vick Enchilada again. But I like this topic and article.

Sorry buddy. You are simply wrong about Brooking. I liked Brook personally very much. I think he was one of the NFL good guys. He was a perfectly lousy linebacker. Keep in mind. Some of us are borderline obsessed with the Falcons. I know the national media doesnt think we exist but there are hard core Falcon’s fans out there that have watched closely for years. And now we have TIVO. I have run back TIVO too many times and slow moed Brook pile jumping after a teammate made a tackle. Nobody in NFL history celebrated a tackle that he didnt contribute to better than Brooking.

Then there is the legendary Reggie Bush non tackle on the goal line where he actually pulled his teammate off Bush when the guy had Bush stood up on the one yard line. Brook comes flying in, pulls the guy off and goes falling out of bounds to watch Bush score.

It is one thing to not be that helpful. It is quite another to actually help the opposition. Our LB corps will be a huge area of upgrade this year over last.


June 30th, 2009
11:08 am

Buchanan was not over rated for his entire time here. For a couple of years he was very solid.

At long last

June 30th, 2009
11:10 am

MB, Finally someone else (you) agrees that Favre is ridiculously overrated. I know he won a Super Bowl, apparently with no teammates, just did it all by himself if you listen to our friends at ESPN. Fantastic arm, but he never realized that you cannot throw the ball into triple coverage and be successful. That’s why he leads in all time TD passes as well as interceptions…are you listening, Mr Stafford?

Bryan G.

June 30th, 2009
11:12 am

I totally disagree that Vick was overrated. I think he is UNDERRATED. I am not a Vick apologist by any means, but the Falcons pre-Vick were irrelevant and post-Vick were viable. Just look at the year he was injured. The Falcons were…what?…3-1 with him and something like 2-10 without him?

Vick was not a great passer by any means, but if my team has a 3rd and 10, I want him behind center just as much as I want Manning or Brady because Vick has so many ways to beat you. (Of course, I am speaking of pre-Fed Pen Vick)

Sarah B

June 30th, 2009
11:13 am

Pualie Old School here’s your answer:

Jessie Floyd Tuggle (born April 4, 1965 in Griffin, Georgia) is a former professional American football linebacker who played for the Atlanta Falcons his entire career from 1987 to 2000. He graduated from Valdosta State College in Valdosta, Georgia. He appeared in the Pro Bowl five times, and assisted the Falcons to a championship appearance in Super Bowl XXXIII after the 1998 season.

In his 14 seasons, he recorded 1803 tackles (1165 solo), 21 sacks, 6 interceptions, which he returned for 106 yards and a touchdown, 10 forced fumbles and 37 pass deflections. He also recovered 9 fumbles, returning them for 155 yards and an NFL record 5 touchdowns.

His nickname is “The Hammer,” because of the impact of his tackles.

His son, Justin Tuggle, will be enrolling in Boston College on a football scholarship.

In 2007 he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

After being the 12th overall selection by the Falcons in the 1998 NFL Draft, Brooking quickly became the foundation of their defense. In his rookie season, he played in 15 games and posted 32 tackles, 1 interception, 2 forced fumbles, and 5 passes defensed as he served as the team nickel linebacker in passing situations throughout the season. He recorded 8 tackles in the NFC Championship game vs Minnesota Vikings, when the Falcons reached the Super Bowl XXXIII, but Atlanta fell to the Broncos 34-19. After that season, in 1999, he started 13 games, finished with 95 tackles (4th in the team), and he added 2 sacks and 2 passes defended. His first career start was against the Vikings, recording 8 tackles, and his first career sack was against Baltimore, sacking Stoney Case.

So no, I would have remebered Jussie Tuggle is one of my all time Falcon favorites.


June 30th, 2009
11:13 am

Mark, any other Hokies make the list? I’ve never understood how such disappointments can come from a program run by Frank Beamer.

In all my years of watching DeAngelo Hall play, I never could figure out what people loved about him. A pro bowl corner back should be able to hold his own against pro bowl receivers and he never seemed to be able to manage that. I’ll never forgot those penalty yards in 2007 he gave up against the Panthers. Was it just me, or did all of his interceptions come from underthrown deep passes?

Some guesses of others on the list: Carson Palmer, Chad OchoCinco, Rex Grossman (if he was ever rated), Cedric Benson, Brian Westbrook, Eli Manning, maybe Ricky Williams

Bryan G.

June 30th, 2009
11:13 am

P.S. Can there be a list for most-overrated color commentators who do not fly and stunk on Monday night football?

1. Madden
2. Kornheiser


June 30th, 2009
11:15 am

I’ve often wondered … if most people agree a player is overrated doesn’t that then, by default, make him less overrated?


June 30th, 2009
11:19 am

reality is a racist

Spud Webb

June 30th, 2009
11:20 am

I’ve said all along Vick will still be suspended for this season. Goodall want’s to see these guys live a trouble free live, without football, then he will re-instate.
I don’t think Vick was over-rated, I do agree with the other two.
Vick won football games & that is the BOTTOM line. The guy was good/sometimes great. Pre-dog killing days I’d take him in a MINUTE. I hope he gets everything turned around and ends up back in the NFL, everyone deserves a second chance.


June 30th, 2009
11:22 am

D hall madeen 2009 overall was 93 madden 2010 overall is 68 thats a HUGE drop

Warden James

June 30th, 2009
11:22 am

Michael Vick will go down as the new Michael Jackson.

Of course, this is as opposed to prison where Michael just went…..

Mark Bradley

June 30th, 2009
11:23 am

Slick, I’ll have to give that some thought. It’s like Joe Rudi of the A’s: He was called underrated so often he probably became overrated for being underrated. Or something.


June 30th, 2009
11:25 am

Vick is a douche, but overated? The guy did win in a system that did not play to all of his talents; the guy aint a QB, no leadership. But he was fast as ehll and took the falcons to a new level before embarrassing the ehll out of us.


June 30th, 2009
11:31 am

After DeAngelo mouthed off about what he was going to do against Chad Johnson, the latter made a complete fool of him in the game—one of the most lopsided CB/WR match-ups I’ve ever seen. So I’m certainly with you on DH. His footwork was terrible. He relied totally on quickness to catch up after getting in bad positions. Vick is a much more complex issue. He certainly terrified other teams, especially his running, of course, and although his passing was inconsistent, and his short passes were much too often wayward, he could and did throw many accurate balls, even quite deep ones. With regard to Brooking, one has to ask “when?”—recently he’s been average or below average on run plays, and horrible dropping into coverage. He was blocked much to easily, and seemed to be candy for good-blocking FBs and TEs.


June 30th, 2009
11:32 am

I remember as a kid everyone saying Phil Simms was underrated….How can everyone says someone is underrated? Who’s doing the rating?


June 30th, 2009
11:34 am

You always have to work in a Vick article.The man crush continues. I bet there is one Vick article in the AJC for each Joe Biden gaffe. If it wasn’t so sad, it would be hilarious.


June 30th, 2009
11:36 am

I find it sickening that people still want to dub Vick as overated and not a good qb, also he played for some of the worst coaches in mora and knapp that the NFL will ever witness… He lead a less than sub par falcons squad to the NFC championship game and also won a playoff game, something that your SAVIOR Matty noodle are ICE hasnt done… Throwing to the likes of Trevor gaylor and Shaun Jefferson lol… lets see what the season brings this year for the falcons… i cant wait to hear all the excuses!!!!


June 30th, 2009
11:37 am

I am not sure how Brooking is overrated. When in the description, he is talked about having to move to inside linebacker. He went to ProBowls because players and coaches voted for him, not fans. I am not saying he was super great at ILB, and it was time for him to go. I just think he wasn’t rated particularly above his play, which was a veteran, smart, tough linebacker with average speed and average tackling ability. No one has ever said he is a HOFer.
Now, D.Hall is only overrated by D.Hall and the Redskins. So is that really overrated?
Vick is too much of a complicated mess to even be on this list. Even in this topic he defies catagorizing(both positively and negatively)


June 30th, 2009
11:39 am

D. Carter- Man, you can’t seriously still be hurt about the Vick situation. Dude, is gone and has been. Get over it. I am positive he doesn’t care about you.


June 30th, 2009
11:40 am

With you on MV7. The biggest mistake Blank ever made wasn’t the contract, it was ditching Reeves. He was to Vick like Cus D’Amato was to MIke Tyson.


June 30th, 2009
11:40 am

True, Sidslid but Vick would have still got busted with Reeves as coach.


June 30th, 2009
11:42 am

Don’t agree that MV was overrated. Certainly, he didn’t make plays in the traditional fashion, but for a while, he electrified the whole team and won many games through sheer athleticism.

DeAngelo Hall was definitely overrated. Any receiver that wasn’t intimidated by Hall’s mouth owned him. Watched it happen too many years. He was so incompetent against some receivers, that I don’t doubt that Steve Smith walked up to the line, looked at DeAngelo and told him, “I’m gonna run a 15-yard hook,” then proceeded to do it successfully. I’m not sure “overrated” is a strong enough word.

I suppose it’s my exposure to dyed-in-the-wool Falcons fans, but I don’t think Brooking was overrated. His liabilities were pretty evident and talked about constantly. I think he was rated just about right: a strong team player with a lot of heart, but definitely lacking in the speed and skill departments.


June 30th, 2009
11:45 am

It’s a complete and utter joke to call Michael Vick overrated.

Michael Vick is the singular most important football player in Atlanta Falcons history. His tumultuous tenure in Atlanta was the only time in franchise history they were relevant for any length of time beyond one season. He had a 38-28-1 record as the starting quarterback which is a Falcons Ring of Honor worthy accomplishment (not the he would be considered for the ring of honor obviously)

He also sold merchandise and, more importantly, tickets. That’s a minor point if the guy didn’t win, but he did that and he brought something with him that Atlanta had never seen prior to his arrival: expectations. People were livid with 7-9 and 8-8 records when he was here, I remember a time when 8-8 was a parade worthy accomplishment for the franchise.

And a disappointing number one overall pick? Give me a freaking break. Go look at the other number one picks this decade. Eli Manning has a title, but has never had a consistently great season. Carson Palmer had numbers, but the knee injury derailed his career. Other than that you can’t even compare any of the number one picks this decade to Vick. Not even Mario Williams, who has been great but hasn’t won squat.

If anything, Vick’s impact is underrated.

Paulie OldSchool

June 30th, 2009
11:46 am

Sarah B: Thank you for the info on Jessie Tuggle. I in no way meant to imply that Mr. Tuggle was overrated, in my mind he was one of the best LB’s ever in ATL, and certainly UNDERRATED as far as the NFL goes. My point was that I remember that Brooking was moved into the lineup and Jessie was moved to the sideline, but, again, perhaps the haze of age and ??? simply makes me remember it that way. As I recall, Brooking was pretty good in years 1-4, questionable after that, horrible at the end. Hall was all speed, all talk, little D. Vick was Vick, often exciting, often heart in mouth terrifying as to when he would fumble or be intercepted or overthrow open receivers. A true polarizing force in ATL. At the beginning, a unifier; at the end, a divider. A sad, sad story, all in all.


June 30th, 2009
11:49 am

linebacking – its about quickness and reading the play. Lose either and you slip.


June 30th, 2009
11:53 am

Anybody else notice how the first sentence when talking about Brooking was an excuse? Call it what it is, HE FLAT OUT SUCKS AS A LINEBACKER NO MATTER WHERE HE PLAYS!


June 30th, 2009
11:54 am

Hey Mark. Are sells down again? You pimping Michael Vick to help your ever decreasing readership. You funny man.

Mark Bradley

June 30th, 2009
11:57 am

No other Hokies made the list.

Algonquin J. Calhoun

June 30th, 2009
11:58 am

Vick is the most overrated player in the history of football! Any achievement made by the Falcons while he was here was in spite of his play and not due to it. Goodell, I’ve said all along, will suspend him for at least one more season. Vick was involved in illegal gambling, a criminal dog fighting operation and other crimes related to those already stated. When confronted by Goodell, early-on in this mess, Vick looked into the Commissioner’s eyes and told him a damn lie. Goodell hasn’t forgotten. He also knows it took the threat of RICO charges being brought against him to get Vick to admit to the lesser charges he was already facing. The suspension Goodell is going to levy will be of specific length. His indeterminate suspension will end when he is released from federal custody. Vick has not been available to serve a suspension from the NFL while in prison. Once he is available, Goodell will bring the hammer down! It is appropriate that he do so. Mike Vick has been unmasked and revealed to be a person engaged in the torture and killing of dogs in a most hideous manner. He’s been involved in illegal and illicit gambling and it is now known, for certain, he is a drug user. Playing in the NFL is a privilege and not a right. Vick, as far as I’m concerned, has forfeited that right and a lifetime ban would be just fine with me!

Maxwell Snark

June 30th, 2009
12:03 pm

Can’t really argue with Mr. Calhoun’s reasoning. I’d like to see Vick earn a second chance through the redemption of his life. It would be best for him, his children and could inspire others to seek and make real, positive changes in their lives.

Maxwell Snark

June 30th, 2009
12:05 pm

Sitting involuntarily in prison, by the way, is serving time, not paying a debt. Paying a debt means making whole those you hurt.


June 30th, 2009
12:07 pm

I disagree with Vick’s inclusion…………I don’t think a guy is underrated if he fills seats and creates the first waiting list for tickets in franchise history.

Granted, it can be said he underachieved at times, but he was never going to be a high percentage passer……he was what he was for the Falcons – an exciting, running quarterback.

Hi work ethic (allegedly) wasn’t good here, which is a characteristic of “overratedness”. But on Sunday, he was a “must see” – overrated guys don’t fall in that category.

That said, I think his best years are behind him, and we are in a MUCH better place now.


June 30th, 2009
12:09 pm

Definately D-Hall!! I base my opinion on how many games he cost the birds. At least Vick won us some games even if it was with his feet rather than his arm. Brooking was consistent with 100 plus tackles a year. He sucked in pass coverage, but gave 110% every down.


June 30th, 2009
12:16 pm

DeShaun Foster most overrated? I didn’t even know he WAS rated.

As for the Falcons on this list, I agree with Bradley’s take. Hall was vastly overrated. Brooking was a tad overrated but still solid.Vick was simply a hard guy to wrap your brain around, because he was so unlike anybody else. It was hard to quantify how much his ability to run made up for his mediocre passing skills. All I do know was he was 38-28-1 as a starter and took us to the NFC Championship Game, so for that reason I can’t call him overrated.

Beautiful Monte

June 30th, 2009
12:18 pm


What a surprise.

Yet ANOTHER Mark Bradley column in which he expresses his undying love and support – not to mention his unspoken “great affection” – for the conVICKted felon who used to wear No. 7 for the Falcons.

In more news from the “dog bites man” department: Other Vickheads (the ones not named Mark Bradley) continue to point out that their lord and savior has the highest winning percentage in Falcon history.

Of course, that’s kind of like being the world’s tallest midget, but since they enjoy numbers so much, I have a couple of questions for the Vickheads:

1) Where did the Falcons’ “passing” offense rank in Vick’s last two seasons?

2) What was the Falcons’ record in Vick’s last two seasons?

If they are true to form, the Vickheads will respond by saying that their lord and savior was in no way responsible for the team’s horrible passing stats and mediocre record during the final two seasons of the Vick Error.

More than likely, they’ll blame it all on Keith Brooking.


June 30th, 2009
12:24 pm

You contuinue to “dumb down” the sports intellect of Atlanta with yet another Vick / MeHall story.
The ability to wallow in the mire continues at the ajc. sheesh, why let Peerless price rest another day, then more about Petrino again on Thursday.
ajc writers will never let Atlanta get beyond having these mega-failures for heroes.