Overrated week: What makes an athlete overrated?

JJWatt
J. J. Watt. (Photo by Jeffrey Bealle from WikiMedia, used under Creative Commons License)

It’s #OverratedWeek here at Section 237.

Tomorrow we start rolling out a series spotlighting the most overrated athlete in each professional sport. Before we get to my poorly thought FIREYHOTTAKES, let’s take a second to consider what makes an athlete overrated.

You’re not going to like this

The short answer: it varies.

That sounds non-committal and boring, but the label impacts everyone from players on the court to coaches to front offices.

Sometimes the label involves relative success. Bill Self has taken some shots for not winning on the biggest stage. Never mind that his Kansas Jayhawks have run the Big 12 for over a decade or that small sample sizes can skew results in tournament play.

The white noise

Sometimes the “overrated” label impacts players for off field reasons or circumstances beyond their control.

J. J. Watt is prime example.

It’s hard to remember with Watt having been on the shelf for most of 2016, but the man is an absolute animal. Bar none, he was the greatest defensive force in the NFL for a four year period.

Between 2012 and 2015, Watt won three NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards, including back to back awards in 2014 and 2015. The latter two seasons were so highly he regarded that Watt was the rare defensive player to garner MVP consideration.

Of course, with success came the backlash. Watt’s detractors include notable Loud Man on TV (and former football player, I guess) Michael Irvin, who once posited that he’d rather build a team around Luke Kuechly than Watt.

Following a season where the Texans posted a top-10 defense by nearly any measure, Watt was briefly subject to trade rumors.

“They made the playoffs twice in that stretch and went 1-2. Despite his incredible individual brilliance, the fact is Watt still is limited in his ability to impact the entire football game. It’s just the nature of his position.” – Eric Lambert, Fansided/ Fox Sports

Rick Smith’s poor roster construction and Watt’s slavish devotion to his “brand” don’t take away from the fact that he’s a stud on the field. His resume between the lines is beyond reproach.

The athletes

So here we go. Five days, four athletes, and a thousand holes getting poked into my arguments.

This should be fun.

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