KANSAS CITY MO - JANUARY 09: Linebacker Tamba Hali #91 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates after recovering a fumble by the Baltimore Ravens during the first half of their 2011 AFC wild card playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 9 2011 in Kansas City Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Hali cracks the Top 20 on a list that includes some very familiar players.
The players at the top of lists labeled Best Players are all recognizable -- even by just one name. Brady. Peyton. Polamalu. Instantly, you know the player because you know the strength of their game -- their ability to carry a team on their shoulders when they need it most. According to Peter King's latest column over at Monday Morning Quarterback, Tamba Hali now stands on the same list alongside the greats in the NFL.
King specifically put Hali at No. 17 overall on his Top 20 list, just below Tramon Williams and just before Julius Peppers. It's a sign that Hali is truly breaking through at an elite level in mainstream football and not just among Chiefs fans who realize that his 14.5 sacks last year were for real. He was second in the league in sacks, and that's the kind of powerful display that will make everyone sit up and take notice.
The reality is that he's been doing this for years, whether on losing teams or from a defensive end position. He's changed coordinators a few times and rolled with every punch the Chiefs defense could take. Yet now he stands as a product of a strong work ethic and relentless motor. His commitment to his craft has truly brought him into the greatest circle of players in the NFL.
Hali should be primed for another standout year given that Romeo Crennel is back for another year with the same impressive schemes that Hali already knows by heart. Even as opposing coaches are planning for him, the young Chiefs defense will help free up Hali as other playmakers like Brandon Flowers and Eric Berry break out -- in much the same way that guys like Ed Reed free up Ray Lewis. Perhaps there's a chance next year at this time that we're talking about Hali in the Top 10 instead of the Top 20. That's what 14-plus sacks will get you.