The Ed Reed v. Troy Polamalu debate has been a heated one in Baltimore, Pittsburgh and all points between since Polamalu came into the league in 2003. Both safeties are game-changing talents, perennial Pro Bowl players and the envy of the 30 NFL teams who don’t have a rooting interest in this debate.
But in the eyes of ESPN’s blogger panel, which has been releasing weekly positional power rankings, it isn’t much of a debate.
In this week’s safety rankings, ESPN’s seven division bloggers -- they are probably taking applications for the NFC East beat if you're interested -- and senior football writer John Clayton unanimously selected one of those safeties as the league’s best.
Ravens fans aren’t going to like how this one turned out.
Polamalu received eight first-place votes to take the top spot in the rankings, and Reed was the unanimous choice as the NFL’s second-best safety. Green Bay’s Nick Collins was a distant third.
"Polamalu and Reed are the secondary's version of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. They are the gold standard of safety play," AFC West blogger Bill Williamson said. "While Reed is great, Polamalu is stunning. I've never seen him play and not make a jaw-dropping play."
"Taking nothing away from Ed Reed, who is a great player in his own right, but Troy Polamalu is the first guy I think of when I think of safeties," NFC South blogger Pat Yasinskas added. "He's been a huge force in Pittsburgh's recent championships. He's just a great all-around player and still in the prime of a career that's going to land him in the Hall of Fame on the first ballot."
ESPN bloggers clearly valued Polamalu’s versatility when stacking him up against Reed. Polamalu is used all over the field by the Steelers, whether he is blitzing, stacking the box against the run, covering receivers man-to-man or dropping into coverage. Meanwhile, the Ravens often use Reed as a center fielder who eliminates deep passes and give him free reign to instinctively jump immediate routes and pick off passes.
Like I said, 31 teams would gladly take the runner-up in this debate, and Steelers fans would love having Ed Reed on their squad if things had turned out differently and vice versa with Polamalu and the Ravens. But this always makes for a fun debate, so which safety do you prefer? And try to keep it civil, OK?