Yes, we all know that the Pro Bowl — the actual game — is a lame substitute for NFL football, a Hawaiian vacation for good NFL players who play like they’re on a Hawaiian vacation. But the Pro Bowl roster, which was released today, actually kinda matters. Players have contract incentives to make the Pro Bowl, and more importantly, we fans get to bitch about how the selection process snubbed more deserving players. Let’s take a look:
QB: Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Eli Manning
RB: LeSean McCoy, Matt Forte, Frank Gore
WR: Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Baby-Punchin’ Steve Smith, Greg Jennings
FB: John Kuhn
TE: Jimmy Graham, Tony Gonzalez
OT: Jason Peters, Joe Staley, Jermon Bushrod
OG: Jahri Evans, Carl Nicks, Davin Joseph
C: Ryan Kalil, Scott Wells
The most egregious snub here is Manning getting the nod over Matt Stafford, who threw 10 more touchdowns and two fewer INTs on more pass attempts than Manning. Stafford also had a higher completion percentage and quarterback rating. And his team won more games. And his face isn’t all “DURRRRR” every time you look at him. Hell, Cam Newton belongs on that roster ahead of Eli.
On the other hand, Eli led the NFC in being related to Archie and Peyton Manning. Suck on that, best season by a rookie quarterback in NFL history.
I’d also give Marshawn Lynch the nod over Matt Forte. Lynch had a slow start that gave way to an unstoppable running force on a team with a shitty passing attack; Forte was excellent as a dual threat out of the backfield, but I think being injured for the final quarter of the year on a team that faded from the playoff picture is more of a negative than Beast Mode’s early-season ineffectiveness. Of course, fan ballots account for 33% of the Pro Bowl vote, and Bears fans are notoriously retarded, so it’s not a huge surprise. (Even if we discount my Seahawks homerism, Michael Turner has better season totals than Forte.)
Lastly, I understand that Greg Jennings is the top receiver for the best quarterback in the game, but he didn’t even lead his own team in receiving yardage or TD catches (that would be Jordy Nelson). Victor Cruz, who has more receiving yardage than everyone in the NFL besides Calvin Johnson, should be on that list.
DE: Jared Allen, Jason Babin, Jason Pierre-Paul
DT: Justin Smith, Jay Ratliff, B.J. Raji
OLB: DeMarcus Ware, Clay Matthews, Lance Briggs
ILB: Patrick Willis, Brian Urlacher
CB: Charles Woodson, Carlos Rogers, Charles Tillman
FS: Earl Thomas, Dashon Goldson
SS: Adrian Wilson
I can’t argue with Patrick Willis starting at middle linebacker, but London Fletcher deserves a spot over Urlacher. Fletcher led the league in tackles by a wide margin, and he’s now played 13 seasons without missing a game. Come the fuck on.
Of course, the NFC is deep at linebacker, and you could also make a case for the rest of the 49ers LB corps (Aldon Smith and Navorro Bowman), Chad Greenway, or whichever awesome linebacker is on your favorite team. Unless you root for the Rams, because that team is dogshit.
Other notes: Jason Pierre-Paul belongs ahead of Jared Allen… Ndamukong Suh’s stomp likely cost him a spot… Earl Thomas is a pleasant surprise — he held together a secondary that was without lost its best two cornerbacks early in the year.
NFC Special Teams
K: David Akers
P: Andy Lee
KR/PR: Patrick Peterson
Special Teamer: Corey Graham
“Thanks, Alex. We couldn’t have done it without all of your drives stalling out.” — Akers and Lee
QB: Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers
RB: Ray Rice, Maurice Jones-Drew, Arian Foster
WR: Wes Welker, Mike Wallace, A.J. Green, Brandon Marshall
TE: Rob Gronkowski, Antonio Gates
OT: Joe Thomas, Jake Long, D’Brickashaw Ferguson
OG: Logan Mankins, Brian Waters, Marshal Yanda
C: Maurkice Pouncey, Nick Mangold
FB: Vonta Leach
There are EIGHT Patriots on the AFC Pro Bowl roster (hi, fan voting!), but Aaron Hernandez might have been snubbed. With Gates missing four games to that same foot injury he has EVERY year, Hernandez racked up 100 more receiving yards despite playing the same position as that gigantic Polack touchdown machine.
Also, Tim Tebow is reportedly the second alternate at quarterback, because AFC quarterbacks fucking blow.
DE: Dwight Freeney, Andre Carter, Elvis Dumervil
DT: Haloti Ngata, Vince Wilfork, Richard Seymour
OLB: Terrell Suggs, Von Miller, Tamba Hali
ILB: Ray Lewis, Derrick Johnson
CB: Darrelle Revis, Champ Bailey, Johnathan Joseph
FS: Ed Reed, Eric Weddle
SS: Troy Polamalu
Oh, fuck you, Ray Lewis.
AFC Special Teams
P: Shane Lechler
PK: Sebastian Janikowski
KR: Antonio Brown
Special Teamer: Matthew Slater
Every kicker in the Pro Bowl is from the Bay Area. Also note: Matthew Slater is GRITTY Patriot.
So there you go. There’s a little something to be proud of for every team in the NFL except the Rams, Redskins, Bills, and Titans (Jake Locker was robbed!). Please voice your displeasure in the comments.