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I don't normally get random FedEx packages in the mail. So, it was a pleasant surprise when there was a delivery waiting on my desk when I walked in this morning.
The return address said ESPN. "Cool," I thought. Nice way to start a day.
Anyway, it ended up being a gift from the venerable Sal Paolantonio, NFL correspondent for The Worldwide Leader. "Sal Pal" had recently written a book appropriately titles The Paolantonio Report: The Most Overrated and Underrated Players, Teams, Coaches and Moments in NFL History.
He even signed the inside cover for me. "Really cool," I thought.
The reason he sent it to me began two weekends ago, when Paolantonio was at Ravens headquarters reporting live for the draft. Sal brought a few copies for members of our public relations staff, and we began chatting about some of his arguments in the book.
He makes some pretty bold claims - like the 1985 Bears were overrated for a Super Bowl winner, or that Terrell Owens is an overrated receiver - but there is one that particularly stuck out to me as I flipped through the 271 pages.
In the "specialists" section, Paolantonio calls Matt Stover the most *underrated *kicker in league history.
He cites a kicker's ability to consistently convert outdoor attempts, and Stover is one of the best.
Over his 18-year kicking career, he's played for the Browns and the Ravens, both with stadiums exposed to the elements.
"He's never played a home game in a dome or even in a warm-weather city," Paolantonio wrote. "Yet through 2006, he has made 85.1 percent of his outdoor field goals, the highest percentage in NFL history."
Actually, Stover's percentage is even more eye-opening, because he has kicked 483 outdoor field goals since he entered the league in 1991, making 411 of them. The next-best on Paolantonio's list?
Mike Vandejagt, who is 101-of-119 (84.9 percent).
Stover is the only Ravens representative in Sal's book, but there are still many other interesting stats, observations and stories that are definitely worth reading.