Every year, fans vote in a popularity contest in the middle of the regular season (Week 13 it was this year) for who they think are the most publicized players in the NFL. This result of this voting is a game, one week after the Super Bowl in Hawaii, nicely coined the "Pro Bowl". Every year, players are voted in because of their popularity over players who have had a better year and deserve it more.
The New York Jets led all teams with seven selections this season. Do you see these same Jets playing in the playoffs? How good can they be if they did not make the playoffs?
Now that you know the origins, here are the best of the NFL's leftovers. I would like to see this squad against the Pro Bowl teams of the AFC or the NFC this season.
QB - Philip Rivers
The Chargers' signal caller's leadership was on full display in a playoff victory over the Colts when he scrambled and then dived for the first down marker, only to come up a few inches short. The next play, on 4th-and-inches, he dives into the line to get the first down. Unfortunately, the rosters had been decided more than a month before this moment.
His stats: 4,009 passing yards, 34 touchdowns, and just 11 interceptions. No names, but a quarterback selected to the annual NFL Popularity Contest threw for 3,472 yards, 22 touchdowns, and 22 interceptions.
RB - DeAngelo Williams
Too bad Williams' was not in the AFC this season, where the running back position was wide open. The NFC was stacked with the top four leaders in rushing yards, but regardless Williams should have made it this season. He ran for 1,515 yards and 20 total touchdowns, while averaging 5.5 yards per rush.
As usual no names, but a fellow NFC back in the Popularity Contest rushed for nine touchdowns and had 4.3 yards per rush. This running back is also watching the playoffs at home, while Williams is getting ready to play against the Cardinals this weekend.
WR - Calvin Johnson
I don't care how many games the Lions won; Johnson was one of the best wide receivers this season. He had 1,331 yards and 12 touchdowns while having one of the worst quarterback situations in the NFL.
WR - Greg Jennings
Jennings had a great season, catching 80 balls for 1,292 yards and nine touchdowns. He was sixth in the NFL in yardage and eight in receiving touchdowns.
TE - Owen Daniels
Owen Daniels quietly had a great season for the Texans, catching 70 balls for 862 yards and two touchdowns. Not to mention he had more receiving yards than either Chris Cooley and Antonio Gates, who both were selected to the Popularity Contest to represent their respective conferences.
Here are a few guys regardless of position who had great seasons on the offensive line yet were forgotten by voters: Rich Seubert (Giants), Harvey Dahl (Falcons), Jeff Otah (Panthers), Ryan Clady (Denver), and Tyson Clabo (Falcons). Notice that they are all on offensives that had great success running the football this season, unlike Jason Peters who was selected from the Buffalo Bills and Walter Jones who was selected from the Seahawks.
DE - John Abraham
How a guy gets 16.5 sacks, which are third in the NFL, and forces four fumbles but does not get into the Pro Bowl is beyond me. The main reason the Falcons' defense played so well this season was this guy on the edge.
DE - Darren Howard
Howard finished the season with 10 sacks and seemed to always be in the backfield disrupting the play and applying pressure on the quarterback for the Eagles. He also had one forced fumble and an interception.
DT - Jamal Williams
Maybe the stats are not there to make him a Pro Bowler, but the performance on the field is. Opposing offenses always had to put two blockers on him to stop him from getting in the backfield and taking away any kind of running game. He freed other people up to make plays for the Chargers. Fifty-six tackles for a nose tackles is not bad either though.
LB - LaMarr Woodley
Overshadowed by teammate James Harrison, Woodley was the second-best linebacker this season for the Steelers. Too bad he was not one of the two Steelers' linebackers to be selected to the Pro Bowl. Woodley had 60 tackles, 11.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, and an interception. He was tied for ninth in the league in sacks.
LB - Stephen Cooper
The Chargers' linebacker had 98 tackles and led all linebackers with four interceptions. He also had 1.5 sacks. He held a linebacking core together that lacked Shawne Merriman this season.
LB - Bradie James
Once again, this guy was overshadowed by a teammate, this time the NFL's sack leader Demarcus Ware. But James had eight sacks of his for the Cowboys and 116 total tackles. He also forced three fumbles as a part of one of the league's elite linebacking cores.
LB - London Fletcher
The leader of the Redskins' defense racked up 133 tackles and had one forced fumble.
CB - Brandon McDonald
Despite playing on one of the worst team's in the league, McDonald picked off five passes including a 98-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Eagles. He also had a forced fumble and a sack.
CB - Tramon Williams
Along with two of his secondary mates that made the Pro Bowl, Williams put up a nice season himself for Green Bay. He picked off five passes and forced two fumbles.
SS - Quintin Mikell
Despite two of his secondary teammates making the Pro Bowl, Brian Dawkins and Asante Samuel, Mikell arguably deserved it more than either of them. He was an undrafted free agent six years ago, and this season, he had 93 tackles, two forced fumbles, and three interceptions.
FS - Oshiomogho Atogwe
This guy plays for one of the worst defenses in the NFL but is one of the best safeties in his fourth year in the league. He racked up 85 tackles, six forced fumbles, and five interceptions for the Rams.