Jan 30, 2011; Honolulu, HI, USA; General view of the line of scrimmage as NFC center Zak DeOssie of New York Giants (51) during the 2011 Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

The Pro Bowl's Down Spiral Into Irrelevance: Why Being A "Pro Bowler" Does Not Mean Anything

 

For nearly half of a decade, fans have been pushing for an end of the Pro Bowl. Aside from those who can afford to take a vacation in February to Hawaii  and the actual players on the trip, the Pro Bowl has become as irrelevant to the viewing public as the Preseason, maybe worse. The underlying flaw with the Pro Bowl is the voting system, which allows ballots cast by the general public to insubstantially outweigh those by the players and coaches, those men that are paid millions of dollar per season to evaluate talent. As a result, players in large media markets, players with large endorsement deals, and players who have built a reputation over time as a talented player get unearned entry, year after year, into a once respected “club” of the elite players the NFL.

The toughest thing about voting for the Pro Bowl is that it requires a vast knowledge of the league, of all teams, and of all positions and the players that start in those spots. Show me a typical sports fan that can name three  starting left guards in the NFL, and I will show you a man with wayyyyy too much time on his hands. Most fans follow their team and, maybe, whatever team gets the most airtime in their local area and on the “primetime” slots on Sunday and Monday Night Football.

Since this same phenomenon occurs every year, I do not need to go back far to give an example of the popularity contest that the Pro Bowl has become. In fact, the NFL just released the first “results” of the initial ballots cast. Here are some of the more laughable highlights:

 

In the NFC…

1. Of the 19 categories on the offensive and defensive side of the ball, 10 of those “top voted” spots are held by either a member of the Green Bay Packers or the San Francisco 49ers. In fact, if you throw in the Minnesota Vikings and the Chicago Bears, the NFC North (plus the ’9ers) make up 16 of the 19 top spots.
2. Piggy backing off that, Ronde Barber is leading all voting the strong safety spot.  Barber’s moved to safety came primarily as a result of the fact that he had lost the speed and quickness necessary to play cornerback in the NFL. He may have 50 tackles, 3 interceptions, and a forced fumble, but Stevie Brown has clearly outplayed him this season, at least so far. Who is Stevie Brown… exactly? The New York Giant strong safety has 46 tackles, 5 interceptions, and 2 fumble recoveries, all while playing a much tougher schedule than the Tampa Bay Bucaneers. The difference? Name recognition…
3. Clay Matthews is the top outside linebacker in the NFC? That has got to be a joke… Not only is the long-haired freak injured, but he is a “one trick pony” that relies on the backers around him to compensate for his inability to do anything besides blitz. Over the last three years, Matthews has the 5th highest amount of missed tackles out of all the” edge rushers” (4-3 DE and 3-4 OLB) in the NFL. He also ranks in as the 13 worst in “tackling efficiency”… The only significant statistical category that Clay Matthew leads is the longest hair and most appearances in TV commercials (sorry, DeMarcus Ware took over the sack lead in the NFC).
4. Jared Allen is leading the votes for defensive ends despite the fact that Aldon Smith, Charles Johnson, Robert Quinn, John Abraham, Chris Clemens, and Bruce Irvin all have at least 7 sacks this season. Special attention should be given to the fact the Johnson is second in the NFL in forced fumbles (5). However, he plays for the Carolina Panthers…

 

In the AFC…

1. The Patriots’ left guard, Logan Mankins, has played in 6 games this season…
2. Troy Polamalu has play in 2 games this season, with 7 tackles, 0 sacks, 0 interceptions, 0 pass deflections, 0 forced fumbles, 0 fumble recoveries. Sorry, I can’t do this anymore…

 

Popularity and market size rein over production and ability in the NFL version of the All-Star game. The Troy Polamalus and Clay Matthews of the world will continue to get undeserved recognition, while the Chris Longs, Danny Amendolas, and James Laurinaitis types of the league will reside in the shadows. If you want to help stop this madness, head over to NFL.com and fill out a ballot today, just make sure that you do your research before errantly selecting the first name you recognize on the list.

 

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