INDIANAPOLIS — Figuring out the 100 "most important" people in the NFL is a daunting task. I mean, how do you take the thousands of players, coaches and front office personnel across the league and determine who should stand as the the most significant?
Thankfully, USA Today Sports NFL staff did the work for us.
This week, they released their "NFL's Top 100 Most Important People' list, selecting, as they say, "the biggest game changers in the league."
Perhaps not surprisingly, two current members of the Colts organization — quarterback Andrew Luck and team owner Jim Irsay — made the cut.
Luck, who is fresh off signing the richest deal in NFL history, comes in at No. 14, while Irsay — a longtime owner and, of course, Super Bowl winner, is ranked No. 95 (click here to see the whole list).
Here's the blurb the USA Today crew wrote about Luck, who is sandwiched between No. 13 Tod Leiweke, the NFL's Chief Operating Officer, and No. 15 Dean Blandino, the league's Vice President of Officiating:*
Indianapolis Colts quarterback. As if the pressure of being a franchise quarterback (and successor to Peyton Manning) coming off an injury-marred season isn't enough, the eyes of the league are upon Luck now that he's become the highest-paid player in NFL history after agreeing to a record six-year, $140 million megadeal.*
And here's the blurb about Irsay:*
2016 Vet Mini-Camp - JIM IRSAY - Lucas Oil Stadium
Colts owner. He moved Andrew Luck atop the NFL pay scale but just might have struck a bargain by paying him $23.3 million through 2021, lower than many estimated Irsay would have to shell out.*
Neither Luck nor Irsay's mentions on this list are a surprise, of course. Both are huge figures when it comes to today's NFL. Also, we don't forget that Luck recently was named the 69th-most famous athlete in the world by ESPN. Perhaps his recent contract would hypothetically bump him up a few spots on that list, too.
And, of course, we won't forget about Peyton Manning's influence on the league. Manning — the legendary Colts quarterback who recently retired after going out on top with a Super Bowl title with the Denver Broncos — comes in at No. 60 on the USA Today list.
He's looped in under the "Manning Family" designation, which includes his brother Eli, the quarterback of the New York Giants, and their father, Archie, a longtime NFL quarterback in his own right.
Perhaps down the road the Colts will have more representatives on this list. The team is obviously very excited about what first-round center Ryan Kelly brings to the table, and Robert Mathis, who could easily be a Hall of Famer when it's all said and done, remains one of the most feared pass rushers in the league.
But, for now, as they say, it's always nice to be noticed.