I try not to be someone who beats the drum of national sports media being blatanly biased towards or against cities. I certianly don't believe it's because they "like" someone more. ESPN will push players and teams because of the bottom line. Some players are easier to promote, i.e Troy Polamalu, than players like an Aqib Talib. The problem I have with this isn't that they are making money by pumping up certain people. It's a business and nobody runs a more profitable ship than ESPN. My problem is more targeted toward the general fan. The fan who accepts cliches and can't think for themselves. The guy who dismisses players that aren't regularly talked about in the MSM as irrelevant or inferior. Then, before you know it, you have an entire nation of people who believe, because Polamalu has nice hair, a good smile and can hit hard that he is the best safety to ever play the game.
None of which I am about to say is meant to demean the player that Polamalu is. He is one of the best safeties in the game today, a great guy by all accounts. I appreciate and respect his game. Does he deserve the Defensive Player of the Year, awarded by the AP, though? Guys like Clay Matthews, Jerod Mayo, and Tamba Hali miss a combined 1 start, put up phenomenal numbers and led their respective defenses to playoffs simply get ignored because they aren't promoted as much. It's a shame.
Troy had a good season statistically. 7 interceptions, 49 solo tackles and 19 assists (or the misleading 68 the MSM has thrown around), 1 FF, 1 FR, 1 sack and 1 Pick6 all makes up a very good season. I want to add some perspective to that though. I will start with a comparison to Aqib Talib. They, obviously, play different positions and are asked to do vastly different things. However, both are considered 'playmakers.' With that aside here is how Talibs numbers directly compare. Talib had 6 interceptions, 39 tackles and 1 Pick6. Oh yeah, he also played 3 less games. Let's pretend that Talib played 14 games as did Polamalu. I won't project what his numbers could have looked like, but do you think he even gets mentioned in DPOY talks? Does he rank in the top 5 in voting? Pure speculation on my part, but probably not. It's not because he played in a small market; Tampa is a middle of the road market. I doubt it's because of his past transgressions because people quickly forgot about Michael Vick brutally torturing dogs for social status, financial gain and personal pleasure when he produced on the field. Polamalu, somewhere along the line, just became a cliche. Great for him; he's earned it. I just struggle to find logic behind the reason why.
Donte Whitner (SS, Buffalo) had more than 2x the total tackles. He ranked 78th in tackles for defensive backs of all positions. That's not even the league median for starters. He had 7 interceptions, which ranked 3rd in the league. So he's at least near the top of a category in something. Again, Talib had one less in the 3 fewer games. Devin McCourty (CB, NE) had far more tackles, 1 more INT, 1 more FF and probably never crossed the mind of AP voters. That list goes on. Also consider TP had 2 picks against Carson Palmer (who didn't), Vince Young, Bruce Gradkowski, Ryan Fitzpaterick, Colt McCoy and Matt Ryan (only legit guy on that list). If we are going to give it to him because he played in fewer games, then let's reward Talib for playing in even fewer. If we are going to give it to him because of how his team missed him when he was out, well, again Talib was missed even more. Or are we giving it to him because he made "big plays at big times" as several articles out there are
justifying reporting? Is that even arguable? He had the same amount of TD's as Talib and a hundred other defensive players. To me, it's because his "big plays" were replayed over and over. It's ingrained. It's a slightly rhetorical question, but what makes a play bigger because it's at the end of the game? Obviously, it remembered more. But wouldn't the same play or set of plays in Troys case at the end of the first half affected the score just the same? And before I read a comment that says it's because of his intangibles or his leadership qualities; save it. It's talking points like that which make it impossible to argue with. It's those 'intangibles' that the MSM uses to create cliches and stars that are bigger than the game.
Again, it's nothing against Polamalu. I love watching him play and respect him as a player. Even numbers guys and knowledgeable analysts (not MSM) are in love with Polamalu, so it's not JUST hype. He plays in the system very well, is a solid tackler and understands offenses. I'm just trying to bring some perspective into it all so that the Brent Grimes, Aqib Talibs and Devin McCourtys of the world aren't completely overlooked.