For instance, Carson Palmer … star. Tony Romo … STAR. Agree? Maybe, maybe not. Palmer’s every bit as talented as Romo. If you asked a dozen GMs, more than half would lean toward starting their team with Palmer.
But if Tony Romo and Carson Palmer walked side-by-side through, say, O’Hare International Airport, who would be more widely recognized?
Romo. No question. Playing for the Cowboys, dating Jessica Simpson, smirking and grinning and trying to keep T.O. from melting down — all of it has helped make Romo a celebrity as well as a quarterback.
For Palmer, playing in Cincinnati for a moribund franchise that has a steady kickoff time of 1 p.m. EDT throughout the fall hasn’t helped him become more recognizable.
And yet at this time three years ago, Romo was known by nobody outside of NFL personnel and the people who follow the league closely.
So we wondered: Who’s going to blow up in 2009? Which players who are already stars are ready to walk over the threshold and become STARS?
We came up with five: quarterbacks Matt Ryan and Philip Rivers of the Falcons and Chargers; receivers Andre Johnson and Calvin Johnson from the Texans and Lions, and running back Adrian Peterson from the Vikings.
All are known. None are known so well they’d be mobbed in an airport, recognized in New York City or be readily identifiable by a nickname.
Yet. But wait until after this season.
PFT: Tom Brady says the loss of Wes Welker didn’t come as a surprise because Brady has been around long enough to know that there are no safe jobs in the NFL.
NFL special report
Players who will soon become household names
Video: Football from NBC Sports
Vick on drafting Barkley: 'Coach needed to do it'
DPS: Philadelphia Eagles QB Michael Vick joins Dan Patrick to talk about the fierce QB competition in camp, if he believes any other QB in the league can beat him at a 40-yard dash, and the specifics after receiving the key to Atlantic City, N.J.
Check out some of the NFL cheerleaders from across the league.