American football isn't an Olympic sport -- yet. But with the world's best athletes set to compete in the 2016 Olympics in Rio, we thought we'd get in on the fun by holding a medal competition at nine key positions. NFL Media analysts ranked the top three players at each spot, with points assigned accordingly -- three points for each first-place ranking, two for each second-place ranking and one for each third-place ranking. The points were totaled, resulting in final gold-, silver- and bronze-medal finishers. Below, you'll find the results -- and each analyst's individual ballot -- at quarterback.
The Quarterback Podium
Newton is probably the best all-around athlete in the NFL -- and last season, his quarterbacking skills caught up to that prodigious athleticism. Brady's mind keeps him potent even as his body ages. Wilson is a formidable dual threat who knows how to avoid the big hits.
There's a reason Cam was the league's MVP a year ago. Brady consistently produces regardless of circumstances, which he proved more than ever last season. Physically, Rodgers is one of the most talented quarterbacks. We've seen him take a game over time and time again.
In his very best game or season, Cam is superior to any other quarterback because he is a terrific passer and the best goal-line back in the league rolled into one. Brady can use this disrespect for motivation during his four-game suspension to start the year.
Newton's arm strength, improved accuracy and ability to run the ball put him at the top. Wilson is extremely athletic, but he doesn't lean on that and plays intelligently. Brady is a living legend. He's played longer than any other quarterback today, and yet, he's still playing better than just about all of them.
Tom Brady would top this list if he were not staring down a suspension. Russell Wilson played better than anyone other than Cam Newton last season. Speaking of, where is he? Look for Newton to be top five, but not league MVP. With a healthy Jordy Nelson, Aaron Rodgers will be the top quarterback. Maybe he will win his third MVP.
With what Brady has done recently (and throughout his career), it's hard to go against him. Rodgers has great accuracy and is one of the most talented QBs in the game. Newton's improvement led him to an MVP award and Super Bowl 50. He's in the prime of his career right now.
Brady is the best QB to ever have played the game. His ability is unparalleled. Rodgers is the most gifted quarterback when you combine his athletic ability, accuracy, arm strength and quick release. I wanted to put Russell Wilson or Cam Newton third, but Eli has shown me never to bet against him in a big spot (particularly, in the Super Bowl). He's got a certain moxie that he wants the ball in crunch time, and that's a rare quality.
Brady is the gold standard. Nobody has accomplished what he has -- and even at 38 years old, he's still playing at a high level. Even in a down year, Rodgers has high productivity and is the prototypical quarterback in my mind. Cam has the potential to be the quarterback of the future, but he cannothesitate and make a business decision when the ball is on the ground during the Super Bowl. You can't be gold- or silver-medal worthy with that kind of play.
Even at 38 years old, Brady is the gold standard for quarterback play. Brady has been known to put his receivers on the map, but I think Big Ben deserves that same type of credit. He's had a ton of success with a lot of second-tier receivers. Rodgers is arguably the most accurate QB in the game today.
Aaron Rodgers gets the gold because 3,821 yards and 31 touchdowns in an injury-riddled offense was a "down year." Until Tom Brady retires, he'll always be a medal contender. Russell Wilson has the arm, legs, durability and decision making of an elite quarterback, but he's years younger than many of his counterparts.
Brady is the best quarterback of all time, and nobody gets more out of wide receivers than he does. Newton's confidence trickled over to his play, making him the league MVP. I believe Rodgers is still the most accurate quarterback when it comes to all phases -- in the pocket, on the run, etc.
Brady is the best of all time, period. Big Ben doesn't get the credit he deserves for developing receivers. Brady gets a lot of credit for doing a lot with "less" -- but Ben essentially has done the same thing. Rodgers is one of the best all-around QBs in the game.
Rodgers already has claimed the throne of "quarterback media types are quickest to make excuses for" from Peyton Manning, but he's still third-best for me. I know, I know: He's been forced to play with diminished offensive assets. But, uh, have you seen what Brady has worked with throughout his entire career, save a glorious two-year run with Randy Moss? (Yes, it was two. Matt Cassel was the Patriots QB in 2008. You people often forget that.) Through all of this, Brady has managed to win four Super Bowls and lead his team to six while making heroes out of a Dolphins castoff and a former MAC quarterback.
Here's the thing that really irks me about Rodgers, too. It's his little attempt to draw the defenders offsides with a hard count. What Rodgers does isn't illegal. But it's akin to the guy on the other team who tries to get you to pass him the ball in a game of pickup. Not illegal, but you're really reaching for the bottom of the barrel there. I feel like this is the reason Aaron has a "complicated" relationship with his brother and "Bachelorette" front-runner Jordan Rodgers.
And since we're on the subject, I read some column recently -- sorry, I forget who wrote it; probably like Pro Football Focus or something -- where the writer charted all of the Packers' drops. Or where Rodgers' receivers weren't in the right place. Which is fine. But nobody ever charts the times when defenders slip or drop interceptions. Or when Julius Peppers can't slip a block from a falling fullback that allows Randall Cobb to get loose on a fourth-down bomb. (Seriously, Julius Peppers, you can't make that freakin' play, but now you're all of a sudden an all-star for the Packers?) But should we not take credit away from a couple of desperation heaves Rodgers threw against the Lions and Cardinals? Or was that just him being a gutty football player? Don't bother answering -- that was rhetorical.
I guess I should say something for Cam Newton here. He's great. He's never going to get the benefit of the doubt for losing his receivers to injury or anything else that goes wrong around him.
Don't worry, I don't go into this much detail at every position. But this one gets me a little fired up.