The MMQB 100

Our special series counting down the most influential people for the 2015 NFL season

By ggramling
June 16, 2015

When the staff of The MMQB bounced around ideas for a ranking of the most influential people in pro football, we spent a good chunk of time arguing not just about who should be on such a list, but about what it means to be “influential” in the NFL. Wouldn’t Roger Goodell, as commissioner, always top such a ranking? That would be dull. To differentiate our list, we focused on the 2015 season, weighting qualification heavily toward what happens on the field. So players and coaches predominate on The MMQB 100. And each year this list will change, maybe dramatically; people who wouldn’t normally be thought of as influential make the cut in 2015 because of their significance to the upcoming season.


For instance, you wouldn’t typically consider an NFL line judge a critical figure, but Sarah Thomas will be this year. She's the first full-time female official in the league's 96-year history. Nor would you have the GM of the league’s worst team on the list, but the Bucs’ Jason Licht is risking his franchise’s future on a promising QB with a pockmarked background. And you generally wouldn't include a college football coach, but Jim Harbaugh makes the cut because every time Michigan wins and the 49ers lose, Niner Nation will be up in arms.


As we unveil The MMQB 100 between now and July 17, we’ll have spots for a U.K. native named Nigel, a retired linebacker, a backup QB and the fifth receiver on a Super Bowl contender ... and that last one’s our little surprise. Check the site each week for another installment. And let the arguments fly.


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100. Justin Houston, Linebacker, Kansas City Chiefs


99. Rachel Nichols, Journalist, CNN (long essay by Peter King)



Photo by Taylor Ballantyne/Sports Illustrated Photo by Taylor Ballantyne/Sports Illustrated



98. Blake Bortles, Quarterback, Jacksonville Jaguars


97. Richie Incognito, Guard, Buffalo Bills


96. John Fox, Head Coach, Chicago Bears


95. Le'Veon Bell, Running Back, Pittsburgh Steelers


94. Eliot Wolf, Director of Player Personnel, Green Bay Packers


93. Marcus Mariota, Quarterback, Tennessee Titans


92. Ray Rice, Running Back, Free Agent


91. John Elway, General Manager, Denver Broncos


90. Bill O'Brien, Head Coach, Houston Texans


89. Jason Licht, General Manager, Tampa Bay Buccaneers


88. DeMaurice Smith, Executive Director, NFL Players Association


87. Jim Harbaugh, Head Coach, University of Michigan


86. Nigel Eccles, CEO and Co-Founder, FanDuel


85. Khalil Mack, Linebacker, Oakland Raiders


84. Shahid Khan, Owner, Jacksonville Jaguars


83. Brian Rolapp, Executive Vice President, Media, NFL


82. Mike McCarthy, Head Coach, Green Bay Packers (long essay by Robert Klemko)



Photo by Jonathan Ferrey for Sports Illustrated Photo by Jonathan Ferrey for Sports Illustrated



81. Eli Manning, Quarterback, New York Giants


80. Ted Wells, Special Investigator, NFL


79. Bruce Arians, Head Coach, Arizona Cardinals


78. Joe Flacco, Quarterback, Baltimore Ravens


77. Tom Coughlin, Head Coach, New York Giants


76. Connor Cook, Quarterback, Michigan State University (long essay by Andy Staples)



Photo by Andrew Hancock for Sports Illustrated Photo by Andrew Hancock for Sports Illustrated



75. Jimmy Haslam, Owner, Cleveland Browns


74. Matthew Stafford, Quarterback, Detroit Lions


73. Dirk Koetter, Offensive Coordinator, Tampa Bay Buccaneers


72. Colin Kaepernick, Quarterback, San Francisco 49ers


71. Todd Gurley, Running Back, St. Louis Rams


70. Ken Whisenhunt, Head Coach, Tennessee Titans


69. Johnny Manziel, Quarterback, Cleveland Browns


68. Marc Ganis, Consultant, SportsCorp Ltd.


67. Matt Ryan, Quarterback, Atlanta Falcons


66. John Harbaugh, Head Coach, Baltimore Ravens


65. Darrell Bevell, Offensive Coordinator, Seattle Seahawks


64. Junior Seau, 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee (long essay by Peter King)



John W. McDonough/Sports Illustrated Photo by John W. McDonough/Sports Illustrated



63. Jason Garrett, Head Coach, Dallas Cowboys


62. Jeff Pash, Executive Vice President & General Counsel, NFL


61. Cris Collinsworth, Analyst, Sunday Night Football


60. Ryan Grigson, General Manager, Indianapolis Colts


59. Troy Vincent, Executive Vice President of Football Operations, NFL


58. DeMarco Murray, Running Back, Philadelphia Eagles


57. Mark Davis, Owner, Oakland Raiders


56. Jay Cutler, Quarterback, Chicago Bears (long essay by Robert Klemko)



Photo by Simon Bruty/Sports Illustrated Photo by Simon Bruty/Sports Illustrated



55. Marshawn Lynch, Running Back, Seattle Seahawks


54. Jeffrey Kessler, Attorney, Winston & Strawn


53. Dan Quinn, Head Coach, Atlanta Falcons


52. NaVorro Bowman, Linebacker, San Francisco 49ers


51. Cam Newton, Quarterback, Carolina Panthers


50. Kevin Turner and Shawn Wooden, Retired Players


49. LeSean McCoy, Running Back, Buffalo Bills


48. Mark Rodgers, Agent, Frontline Athlete Management (long essay by Andrew Brandt)



Photo by Kelly Gavin/Texas Rangers Photo by Kelly Gavin/Texas Rangers



47. Ben Roethlisberger, Quarterback, Pittsburgh Steelers


46. Teryl Austin, Defensive Coordinator, Detroit Lions


45. The Thursday Night Football Viewer


44. Sean Payton, Head Coach, New Orleans Saints


43. Lisa Friel, Senior Adviser, NFL


42. Jimmy Garoppolo, Quarterback, New England Patriots


41. Richard Sherman, Cornerback, Seattle Seahawks


40. Todd Bowles, Head Coach, New York Jets


39. Tom Benson, Owner, New Orleans Saints


38. Andy Dalton, Quarterback, Cincinnati Bengals


37. Rob Gronkowski, Tight End, New England Patriots


36. Howard Katz, Senior Vice President of Broadcasting, NFL


35. Greg Hardy, Defensive End, Dallas Cowboys


34. Dean Spanos, Team President and CEO, San Diego Chargers


33. Dean Blandino, Vice President of Officiating, NFL


32. Jimmy Graham, Tight End, Seattle Seahawks


31. Odell Beckham Jr., Wide Receiver, New York Giants (long essay by Emily Kaplan)



Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images



30. Jed York, CEO, San Francisco 49ers


29. Eric Grubman, Executive Vice President, NFL


28. Robert Griffin III, Quarterback, Washington


27. Drew Brees, Quarterback, New Orleans Saints


26. Jared Abbrederis, Wide Receiver, Green Bay Packers


25. Jameis Winston, Quarterback, Tampa Bay Buccaneers


24. Chris Borland, Retired Linebacker


23. Sam Bradford, Quarterback, Philadelphia Eagles (long essay by Andy Benoit)



Photo by Matt Rourke/AP Photo by Matt Rourke/AP



22. Rex Ryan, Head Coach, Buffalo Bills


21. Ndamukong Suh, Defensive Tackle, Miami Dolphins


20. Darrelle Revis, Cornerback, New York Jets


19. Sarah Thomas, Line Judge, NFL (long essay by Amy Trask)



Photo by John Froschauer/AP Photo by John Froschauer/AP



18. Philip Rivers, Quarterback, San Diego Chargers


17. Jim Tomsula, Head Coach, San Francisco 49ers


16. J.J. Watt, Defensive End, Houston Texans


15. Tony Romo, Quarterback, Dallas Cowboys


14. Robert Kraft, Owner, New England Patriots


13. Pete Carroll, Head Coach, Seattle Seahawks


12. Andrew Luck, Quarterback, Indianapolis Colts


11. Adrian Peterson, Running Back, Minnesota Vikings


10. Rich McKay, Co-Chairman, NFL Competition Committee (long essay by Peter King)



Photo by Ross D. Franklin/AP Photo by Ross D. Franklin/AP



9. Peyton Manning, Quarterback, Denver Broncos


8. Stan Kroenke, Owner, St. Louis Rams


7. Aaron Rodgers, Quarterback, Green Bay Packers


6. Jerry Jones, Owner, Dallas Cowboys


5. Russell Wilson, Quarterback, Seattle Seahawks (long essay by Paul Chryst)



Robert Beck/Sports Illustrated Photo by Robert Beck/Sports Illustrated



4. Bill Belichick, Head Coach, New England Patriots (long essay by Greg A. Bedard)



Winslow Townson/Sports Illustrated Photo by Winslow Townson/Sports Illustrated



3. Chip Kelly, Head Coach, Philadelphia Eagles (long essay by Emily Kaplan)



Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images



2. Roger Goodell, Commissioner, NFL (long essays by The MMQB Fan Bloggers)



Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images



1. Tom Brady, Quarterback, New England Patriots (long essay by Jenny Vrentas)

Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images



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