A.J. Green: Soon to be in a Class of His Own

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 04: A.J. Green #18 of the Cincinnati Bengals tries to catch a second quarter pass next to Ike Taylor #24 of the Pittsburgh Steelers but ends up drifting out of bounds at Heinz Field on December 4, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The NFL is known as a "copycat" league. And in that type of league, all kinds of comparisons are constantly being made. Great players are judged against other great players. Great teams are evaluated according to other great teams. How often have you heard the phrase structure "(Insert team here) is playing as well as ('72 Dolphins, '85 Bears, etc.) ever did!!", or, "(Current running back) looks like (historically great running back) out there. Seriously, I don't know if he's better than (currently great running back), but he's definitely top five"? Players, teams, coaches, uniforms, stadiums, fan bases, concession prices...you name it, it's being compared. Everyone does it, myself included - it's just a part of being a fan. Geoff Hobson, official Cincinnati Bengals writer, said that the Pro Bowl is of course no exception, but this time the comparisons weren't readily accepted.

People were comparing the 6-4 Green to Marshall, but Marshall wouldn't have it.

"He's in a league of his own," Marshall said. "He's totally different. He's really smooth. Sometimes it takes people a couple of years to get it. But it looks like he has it. I'm looking forward to following his career."

After a phenomenal rookie season, A.J. Green drawing comparisons to other NFL wide receiver greats should come as no surprise. Green led all rookie wideouts with 1,057 yards in 2011 and earned a starting spot on the 2012 AFC Pro Bowl roster. Even with all the accolades, however, Green still seems to slip under the radar slightly more than he deserves. In a conversation about rookies, Green may not receive more than a slight mention. Instead the talks will focus on the flashy Patrick Peterson, Von Miller, the sack master Aldon Smith, and of course Cam Newton. But arguably the most valuable player on a team with three other pro bowlers including fellow rookie Andy Dalton, Brandon Marshall thinks Green is the one who deserves the praise.

"I love his focus. I love his demeanor in a game," he said. "He doesn't get rattled. It doesn't matter who he's playing. He just makes plays."

Like Dalton and the rest of the Cincinnati Bengals, Green has nothing but the brightest of futures ahead of him. Soon enough it'll be the rest of the league saying, "Hey, have you watched this (insert young wide receiver)? Great player. He might be the next A.J. Green."

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