What can a Super Bowl hangover do to the ranking of the NFL's top player from the previous year? How about a 40-plus freefall in the Top 100 Players of 2017?
Cam Newton fell from No. 1 to No. 44 in this year's rankings. A year after his Panthers flirted with regular-season perfection, steamrolled conference competition and the quarterback took home MVP honors, Carolina fell back to earth rather quickly, and the quarterback's ranking took a hit in the process.
Those who live and die by the numbers will appreciate this comparison:
» 2015: 296-495, 3,837 yards, 35 TD, 10 INT, 99.4 passer rating
» 2016: 270-510, 3,509 yards, 19 TD, 14 INT, 75.8 passer rating
There's more to this argument, of course. Injuries, early deficits and shoddy blocking all played a part, as did Newton's early-season concussion and late-season partial rotator cuff tear, which ended up requiring offseason surgery.
The NFL's players aren't arguing with the ability of the quarterback, though. Newton's colleagues know he's still among the best, holding him in slightly higher regard than NFL.com's Ike Taylor, who had Newton dropping to No. 67 in his top 100. Even Taylor expects Newton to bounce back in 2017.
But where SuperCam lands in this ranking as opposed to 2016 speaks volumes about the fluidity of the talent pool in the league. One year, you're the talk of the league and cream of the crop, and the next, your peers figure out you might not be immortal after all. Such is life at the highest level of football.