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The MMQB 100

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

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)

Photo by John W. McDonough/Sports Illustrated

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)

Photo by Robert Beck/Sports Illustrated

Robert Beck/Sports Illustrated

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

Photo by Winslow Townson/Sports Illustrated

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

Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images