IRVING, Texas --Sports lists have become a dime a dozen these days, the purpose of many to incite controversy rather than actually depict accurate rankings on the given subject.
No surprise, then, that Tony Romo -- the most polarizing player on the NFL's most polarizing team -- usually finds himself on a large number of these catalogs.
The most recent Top 100 Players list from CBS's Pete Prisco is a good one to peruse for two reasons: Prisco is a columnist who supports his theories with film study; and he also has maintained a pretty fair and balanced opinion on Romo over the years.
He's got Romo ranked 78th overall, and 10th among quarterbacks behind Aaron Rodgers (1), Tom Brady (2), Drew Brees (6), Eli Manning (15), Ben Roethlisberger (16), Philip Rivers (20), Peyton Manning (33), Matt Ryan (48) and Matt Stafford (50).
Calling Romo a top-10 quarterback is fair for a man with currently the second-highest career passer rating in league history (96.9). Five of the nine ahead of him have rings, the main measure of success at the position.
And a top-100 ranking is a compliment when considering the guys who barely made the cut -- Brandon Marshall (94), Charles Woodson (96), James Harrison (99) and Brandon Sproles (100) -- are terrific players.
But once again, I have a hard time rationalizing higher rankings for QBs like Rivers and Ryan. Rivers did not play well last season, and although Ryan is a very good player, his lack of playoff wins is the same knock folks use on Romo. Even Stafford has only reached the postseason once, having dealt with recurring shoulder problems early in his career. A healthy Michael Vick should probably be somewhere in this conversation.
Even from a rational observer like Prisco, it seems Romo can't quite get his due when compared with his signal-calling peers.
Now, I'll be the first to say that a Top 100 football list is extremely hard to compile. This isn't the NBA, where only five guys play on the court at once and they all have relatively similar two-way responsibilities. The biggest differences are between posts and point guards.
Positions and duties are so specialized in football. How do you accurately separate the value between Prisco's best cornerback (Darrelle Revis - No. 6) with the best offensive tackle (Duane Brown - No. 22)?
Lists are designed for this type of debate. One thing is certain, though: Romo will never crack the top 10 on any list -- or maybe even the top 20, where Rivers sits with a pair of conference title appearances -- until the Cowboys at least get to the NFC Championship on his watch.