The League

Dave Goldberg
Sports Reporter

Dave Goldberg

Covered the NFL for the AP for 25 years and now is a senior NFL writer for

Pro Bowl voting is silly


Eight Vikings made the Pro Bowl including offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie, beaten so badly and so often two weeks ago by Julius Peppers that he was benched. Then beaten regularly again Sunday night by Israel Idonije of the Bears.

At least Peppers will be his teammate in the Pro Bowl, so he only can embarrass McKinnie in practice.

Pro Bowl voting is always silly. In 1983, when only players and coaches voted, A.J. Duhe of the Dolphins made it despite playing only four games that season because of injuries -- his performance in the 1982 AFC championship game earned him his spot and the voters apparently didn't notice he barely took the field the next year. Adding fans can make it worse -- McKinnie is on the team because Minnesotans were urged to stuff ballot boxes.

This selection isn't as bad as many I've seen, although the offensive line choices for the most part are, hereditary -- once you make it, you stay. (See the two NFC centers, Andre Gurode and Shaun O'Hara). "I made it when I played in Arizona, was hurt all year and the team stunk,'' the old Lion tackle Lomas Brown said late in his career. "I had trouble getting on early, then when I made it I couldn't get off it even when I didn't deserve it.''

Deserving players always get left off. Many make it a year late after their omission is noted. Some miss because of a logjam at their position, others because their teams are bad. And some don't miss because they play the same position as a "legacy,'' -- an aging superstar like Ray Lewis, chosen with Houston's DeMeco Ryans as an AFC linebacker although the Jets' David Harris should be there.

One glaring omission: London Fletcher, the Redskins' middle linebacker, who's played 12 excellent seasons without making a Pro Bowl. Early in his career, he played for two Super Bowl teams in St. Louis, but the Rams' offense got the attention . This year, analysts went out of the way to plug him during every Skins' telecast I saw. Instead, Jonathan Vilma is riding the Saints' record to Miami.

Some more omissions:

Vincent Jackson of the Chargers. averaging 17.2 yards per catch though you can't argue with Andre Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Reggie Wayne and Wes Welker as AFC receivers. Same with Thomas Jones of the Jets. If you were building an AFC roster for a real game, he'd fit because he's a slasher with power and the three guys selected are all speed guys -- Chris Johnson, Ray Rice and Maurice Jones-Drew. Add Cincinnati cornerback Leon Hall list along with (perhaps) wide receivers Roddy White of Atlanta and Steve Smith of the Giants (three short of 100 catches.)

At least a dozen other guys could be there including Tony Gonzalez, a legacy, who switched conferences and got stuck behind Vernon Davis and Jason Witten in the NFC. Other than McKinnie, no real duds made it.

There will be additions -- because the game is a week before the Super Bowl, the players from the teams in the title game will be eliminated.

In the NFC? Please make one of them Fletcher.

By Dave Goldberg  |  December 30, 2009; 9:00 AM ET  | Category:  NFL Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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