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Who are the NFL’s most respected players, as voted by their peers?

Frank Schwab
Shutdown Corner

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(USA Today Sports Images)

Redskins linebacker London Fletcher didn't win an ESPN poll asking more than 320 players who the most respected player in the league was.

Peyton Manning won in a landslide, but we'll revisit that in a bit. Let's talk about Fletcher for a moment.

The top seven players were mostly a roll call of the league's most recognizable players. Manning was followed by Tom Brady, Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. It looks more like a fantasy football draft than anything else.

But squeezed in that top seven between Brees and Rodgers on the list, getting 3.4 percent of the vote, was Fletcher. That's pretty remarkable, considering the rest of the list. And it's much deserved.

Fletcher, who has said he was 99 percent sure he would retire after this season, didn't make the list because he's the best linebacker in the NFL (although he has been pretty good for this entire century). It's a testament to him carving out a 16-year NFL career coming out of John Carroll University, looked over initially because he is just 5-foot-10. But what Fletcher did was come to work every day. Literally. He played in 256 consecutive games, never missing one. He played all 16 games this year, racking up more than 100 tackles once again at age 38. He is respected as a leader and for his toughness and longevity. He's the perfect player for any NFL rookie to look up to.

Manning didn't exactly come out of nowhere to make himself an NFL success, but he is the league's most respected player. He got 26.8 percent of the ESPN votes, and Brady was a distant second with 7.5 percent. In a separate ESPN poll of "If you had to start a team with one player, whom would it be?" the 37-year-old Manning won that too, at 19.3 percent, besting Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck and his 17.5 percent.

Given how well Manning and Fletcher did in the poll, it's pretty clear that the league's players do respect their elders.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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