Oh, what a year can do for a reputation.
At this time last year, Andy Dalton was not even the most talked about quarterback on his own team as AJ McCarron was the guy who some were actually clamoring for to be the starter. That was following a mediocre year for Dalton in which he tossed just 19 touchdowns vs 17 interceptions and five fumbles while the Bengals were once again one-and-done in the postseason.
But Dalton came back with a vengeance in 2015 and showed the world he is a franchise quarterback. Despite not playing in the final month of the 2015 season, Dalton still threw for 25 touchdowns and 3,250 yards vs just seven interceptions. He also guided the Bengals to a 10-2 start before going down with a thumb injury.
That's led to a far more positive outlook for Dalton this offseason, not to mention some nice praise from guys like Ben Alamar, ESPN's director of sports analytics. Alamar devised a formula that combines salary and endorsements with social media following and Google search popularity to create the ESPN World Fame 100 rankings.
Here's what Alamar wrote on Dalton, who came in at the 95th spot in the rankings of the world's most famous athletes.
IT'S GOOD TO BE: Safe in the offseason, where the jokes aren't as plentiful and maybe don't sting as much. Seriously, Andy Dalton's fame is almost completely built on his failures. He's a good quarterback but not a great one, and he can't win a playoff game. It's obviously not his fault the Bengals lost their first playoff game this past year, since he was hurt and couldn't play in it. But unfortunately for Dalton and a Cincinnati team that's neither missed the playoffs nor won a postseason game since it drafted him, he's best known for what he can't get done.
This past year, Dalton also set career highs in QB Rating (106.3), completion percent (66.1%), had the NFL's eighth-best completion percentage, second-best yards-per-attempt average, second-highest passer rating and fifth-best QBR.
All of this is why Dalton is viewed in much higher regard than he was at this time last year, and it also helps keep Bengals fans at ease knowing they have their franchise quarterback.
Other NFL athletes on the ranking include Cam Newton, the highest ranked NFL player on the list at 32, Peyton Manning at 38, Odell Beckham Jr. at 40, Drew Brees at 44, Tom Brady at 52, Aaron Rodgers at 53, J.J. Watt at 56, Marshawn Lynch at 61, Eli Manning at 66, Andrew Luck at 69, Tony Romo at 70, Rob Gronkowski at 72, Ben Roethlisberger at 98 and Carson Palmer at 99.