Mason: Colts' Manning is NFL's best player, 'hands down'

There's no question in Baltimore Ravens wideout Derrick Mason's mind who the top player in the NFL is.

Mason recently said on WJZ-FM's "The Norris and Davis Show" that Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning is "hands down" No. 1 in the league.

Mason's answer came in response to a question about NFL Network's "The Top 100 Players of 2011," which culminates at 8 p.m. ET Sunday with Nos. 10 through 1 on the list being revealed.

"I think if I'm ranking right now who's a top player ... I think it's Peyton Manning," Mason said, according to SportsRadioInterviews.com. "Hands down, it is Peyton Manning.

"When you look at the rankings and you look at the importance of a player is this: not the type of season that he had, one seasons or two seasons that he had, it's what player do I kick off a team and it changes that team dramatically? I only know one player, and it's Peyton Manning.

"You take Tom Brady off New England, they showed that they can go 11-5. Now you take Peyton Manning off the Colts, I don't know where that team goes offensively."

Manning wasn't the only game-changer Mason brought up in the discussion.

"Another guy I look at and say it changes the scope of what they do is a guy like Ed Reed," Mason said of his Ravens teammate. "You take Ed Reed off of our defense -- not to say I don't think the defense would be good; we're good, because we have good players -- but if you take him off the back end, it changes us somewhat, and it showed last year.

"Once you insert him (Reed), we're back to quarterbacks are scared to throw the ball deep down the field, so when you looking at ranking guys, you rank them like that. You don't want to just rank them because they had a good season or a 1,000-yard season. You rank them as, if I took this player off this team or away from this side of the ball, what does it do for that team? Do they get better? Do they get worse? The only person I know, two people really, is Peyton Manning and Ed Reed."

Mason also addressed which Ravens player -- Reed or linebacker Ray Lewis -- would rank higher on the "Top 100" list.

"If you look at our team, they (NFL Network) would rank Ray Lewis ahead of Ed Reed just because of the body of work he has put together over the last 15 years," Mason said. "Ed does make a strong case to be ranked a little higher, but if I'm looking at it, I'm looking at the body of work, and I believe they (NFL Network) will rank Ray Lewis ahead of Ed Reed.

"Now if it goes the other way, I wouldn't be surprised. I wouldn't fight it either way, but I just think if you are looking at guys around the league, that respect factor, not to say they don't need to have that respect factor for Ed, but I think the longevity and the body of work over the course of 15 years that Ray has put together. I think they will rank him higher."

Mason also revealed that he voted for about 20 players on the list, not all 100 because "I don't even know all 100 guys to sit down and rank them."

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