The Oakland Raiders are one of the laughing stocks of the NFL this year with their 3-8 record and perpetually awful performances. Lost in the mess that is their season is one of the best players in the NFL, Nnamdi Asomugha. Asomugha may be the only remaining member of the dying species that is the shut-down cornerback. He broke out with a good season in '06, then put up another great one in '07, where only 30 passes went his way all season.
In '08, Asomugha has been even better and thrown to even less, if you can believe that. Through 10 weeks, Asomugha was thrown to 11 times. 11 Times! Those 11 passes resulted in 5 pass deflections, an interception and 2 catches. That was through 9 whole games. In week 10, the Panthers threw Nnamdi's way 3 times. And unsurprisingly, it resulted in an interception, an incompletion, and a deflection. In weeks 11 & 12, Ted Ginn Jr. and Brandon Marshall both caught 4 passes, which is unlike Asomugha, but I didn't watch the games and don't know how many of those were on Nnamdi. Regardless, Nnamdi kept both out of the end-zone and had 2 more pass deflects.
In the NFL, only Champ Baily can even be considered to be Asomugha's level and I don't think anyone would choose the aging Baily over the up and coming Asomugha. Asomugha is a superstar who is toiling away in Oakland's obscurity and isn't getting the national attention that he rightly deserves. Currently, Asomugha is 3rd in AFC Pro Bowl voting and it will be a travesty is he doesn't get voted in because teams flat-out avoid him. If you didn't know Asomugha know you do, and I'll leave you with a quote from Denver Broncos football coach Mike Shanahan:
"He's the most underrated top player in the game," Shanahan said on a conference call with Northern California reporters Wednesday. "I can't say the history of the game because I haven't been around here that long, but I can say in my 25 years, he is by far the most underrated player."