First and 10: Gates better than Rivers? Not so fast

For the football-starved denizens of pigskin nation, NFL Network’s “The Top 100 Players of 2011” countdown has been a blessing. Every Sunday night, we get to see who NFL players think are the best in their profession (the voting was done by players). Players 30-21 were revealed this weekend, including two Chargers: Philip Rivers (No. 26) and tight end Antonio Gates (No. 22).

Gates is already one of the best offensive tight ends in the history of the league, but did the players get it wrong by ranking him ahead of the man responsible for getting him the ball?

That was the question posed to NFL.com and NFL Network analysts in the latest “Instant Debate,” coming later today.

Here’s what else is on tap Tuesday:

  • Maurice Jones-Drew spent another day at NFL Network headquarters Monday, appearing on “NFL Total Access.” The Pro Bowl running back didn’t pull any punches when asked if drafting Blaine Gabbert with the No. 10 overall pick was the smart move for the Jags.
  • There’s been a hint of sadness to the story of Tiki Barber, who opened up to HBO recently about his personal struggles and quest to return to football at 36. The former Giants star admits he now needs football more than it needs him, revealing a level of vulnerability that makes him easy to root for. Bucky Brooks believes Barber’s quest isn’t such a pipe dream in a column you’ll see later today.
  • As you may or may not know, it’s Twitter Gangster week here at NFL.com! Well, not really, but Rich and the guys at “NFL Total Access” chatted about the tweet-based heat between Osi Umenyiora and LeSean McCoy. You have to love Giants wideout Steve Smith diving into the fray with some expert Photoshop work. “Total Access” guest Roddy White and Jones-Drew have their say here, too.
  • We’re counting down the top five moments in the NFL’s 10 oldest stadiums, with venerable Soldier Field getting the spotlight this week. A personal fave is the crazy fan who leaped from his seat and down the tunnel to grab an extra point during a Bears-Packers showdown in 1995. Incredibly, the fan wasn’t injured from the fall, which might have something to do with the ponytail that served as both babe magnet and parachute that night.
  • NFL.com senior writer Steve Wyche and NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks will talk football with DeMarcus Ware and Chris Cooley in this week’s “Cover Two Podcast.” Download the full podcast on iTunes later today.
  • Keep an eye out for the latest “Pick Six” photo essay, where Adam Rank will break down the best Twitter wars, otherwise known as Tweefs. In case you missed it, check out Rank’s “Pick Six” on awesome action movie quotes that could help give you the edge in a Twitter war of words. “You’re the disease, I’m the cure.”
  • NFL.com personnel guru Gil Brandt takes your questions on the latest news around the NFL during his weekly live chat today at 1 p.m. ET. Submit a question now.
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