ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The most respected player in the NFL, at least according to an anonymous survey conducted by every ESPN NFL Nation reporter on their respective beat?
Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, and not just because of his for-the-ages season in which he set single-season marks for touchdown passes (55) and passing yards (5,477), though many conspiracy theorists would take away 7 yards and, thus, the record, for what appeared to be a lateral against the Oakland Raiders in the season finale.
Still, Manning was a runaway winner in the balloting -- every reporter asked 10 players on the team they covered -- garnering 26.8 percent of the vote. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson tied for second with 7.5 percent of the vote. Washington linebacker London Fletcher was the only defensive player to crack the top seven as he was seventh.
No Raiders player was in the top seven as 78 players received votes.
Manning, who faces Oakland twice a year, was also the leader in the Raiders’ locker room among those surveyed, as he was the only one with multiple votes.