Pro Bowl 2012: NFL Veteran All-Stars Who Deserve to Make a Super Bowl Appearance
If there's one thing that's appealing about the Pro Bowl, it's that we do get to see the NFL's best compete against one another.
Unfortunately, it's also a game that hardly anyone cares about especially with the Super Bowl coming up next. To that end, there are some NFL veteran All-Stars who deserve more than just Pro Bowl selections, meaning a shot at the Super Bowl.
How exciting would it be to see these following players on football's biggest stage?
Tony Gonzalez: TE, Falcons
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Since 1997, Tony Gonzalez has been menacing NFL defenses as a receiving tight end who seems to just get better with age.
From 1999 through 2008 Gonzalez made 10 straight Pro Bowls but never got further than the Divisional Round and has yet to do so with Atlanta despite two more Pro Bowl selections (2010, 2011).
Gonzalez will be 36 years old when the 2012 season kicks off so the chances of him playing in the Super Bowl are unlikely, especially the way the Falcons' season closed out.
But for as much as Gonzalez has put into perfecting his craft as a blocking, receiving and reliable tight end, there's no doubt he'll make the Hall of Fame. It would just be a shame if he didn't at least play in one Super Bowl.
Maurice Jones-Drew: RB, Jaguars
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When the 2012 NFL season kicks off it will be Maurice Jones-Drew's seventh season as he comes off three straight Pro Bowl and All-Pro selections.
Even more impressive was his 2011 campaign where he won the rushing title on a 5-11 team against a very difficult schedule. Not to mention the Jaguars had the NFL's worst passing offense with a rookie quarterback under center and they fired their head coach mid-season.
Despite all the things he couldn't control, MJD bowled over defenses and was arguably the league's best back. He had no talent around him whatsoever but his versatility and ability to be a complete, every-down-back did not go unnoticed.
And although he's only going to be 27 years old before next season, time is of the essence for NFL running backs, and even more so for a guy like MJD who has no help and has played through multiple injuries.
So, here's to hoping this consistent NFL stud running back gets at least one shot in the Super Bowl.
Jared Allen: DE, Vikings
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Had it not been for the ineptitude of Brett Favre, Jared Allen would have already played in a Super Bowl.
Well, coming off a fourth Pro Bowl selection, Allen and the Vikings do have a high draft pick to make some noise in 2012.
As a defensive end, age isn't too much of a concern yet for Allen(will be 30 before next season) and his ability to consistently pressure quarterbacks always gives The Purple People Eaters a fighting chance.
Can you imagine if Allen had played with Allen Page, Jim Marshall and Carl Eller? Or what about with John Randle, Chris Doleman and Keith Millard?
Surely Allen would have thrived then as he is now.
Allen's off-the-field personality would only become enhanced and make him even more likable. He's written a cook book and has repped the mullet with a fu manchu. If there's anything the Super Bowl would do for Allen, it's provide fans with another unique aspect of pro football.
Brandon Marshall: WR, Dolphins
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A three-time Pro Bowl selection and this year's Pro Bowl MVP, Brandon Marshall would be great to watch in the Super Bowl.
For one, he's been one of the NFL's premier receivers despite not having a stud quarterback under center. While in Denver he was with Jake Plummer and Jay Cutler for part of 2006 and then Cutler for 2007 and 2008.
Then Josh McDaniels and Kyle Orton happened in 2009 where Marshall made both look a lot better than they actually were. Had it not been for Marshall in '09 the Broncos don't start 6-0.
Now in Miami, Marshall has dealt with more non-established quarterbacks in Chad Henne and Matt Moore. The fortunate aspect of this however, is that Moore really developed in 2011 and has proven to be a worthy full-time starter in 2012.
Provided that Moore continues and develops into a legitimately consistent quarterback, Marshall will only see an increase in numbers. And based on his dominant performance in the Pro Bowl, it's clear that even meaningless games matter to him.
He's easily the best receiver since the days of OJ McDuffie in Miami, so watching his talents on the big stage would be highly anticipated.
Philip Rivers: QB, Chargers
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What we're seeing with Philip Rivers in San Diego is on some level the second coming of Dan Fouts. Fouts made it to two consecutive AFC Championship games (1980, 1981) but lost both despite having a Hall-of-Fame career.
As for Rivers, he's made four Pro Bowls in the last six years, has thrown for over 4,000 yards each of the last four seasons and has made one conference championship game (lost to New England in 2007).
The only difference between Rivers and Fouts though, is that Rivers has a better defense but not nearly as good of a head coach. Don Coryell was Fouts' coach from 1978-1986 and made the Bolts offense one of the best year in and year out.
Rivers on the other hand, has Norv Turner on the sidelines who replaced Marty Schottenheimer in 2007. Needless to say, Rivers has performed well and much like Dan Fouts, deserves a shot at the Super Bowl.
The question however, is whether he'll ever get the chance with Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger still going strong, the Houston Texans coming of age and the Chargers' AFC West rivals battling them every year.
San Diego hasn't taken that next step as a team despite Rivers' accomplishments, so sooner or later changes will need to be made.
John Rozum on Twitter.