The Pro Bowl may have lost much of its luster in the past few years as players are every more reluctant to put their bodies on the line in a meaningless contest. However, the honor of being a Pro Bowler still persists and it is important that fans of the NFL vote for those players whose seasons truly justify roster spots.
While Brett Favre may be a legendary quarterback and Ben Roethlisberger a Super Bowl champion, neither player should be in Pro Bowl consideration this season. The habit of voting for big names over deserving up and comers is troublesomely prevalent in the game today and should be eradicated for the sanctity of the honor.
Names like Mark Sanchez, Peyton Manning, Donovan McNabb and Jay Cutler do not deserve to grace the back of Pro Bowl uniforms, but chances are that at least one of them will. In order to avoid the trap of celebrity here's a breakdown of positions on the ballot which are most likely to become a popularity contest.
Orton has been phenomenal this season for the Denver Broncos. The Broncos are relying almost entirely on the passing game and Orton continues to produce. He is second in the league in passing yards and is averaging 312 yards per game.
Rivers has been equally dominant through the air and leads the league in both passing yards and touchdown passes.
Brady is putting together a remarkable season in New England. Not only is he winning and producing he is accomplishing both of these feats with a lackluster supporting cast. If this was not enough, Brady is still second in the conference in touchdown passes even with Randy Moss no longer in a Patriots uniform.
If the Pro Bowl meant something, chances are that Vick would play the entire game. He has been that dominant this season. His statistical totals have been limited by injuries but his quarterback rating is tops in the league as his ability to keep opposing defensive coordinators up at night.
Ryan has been one of the league's most consistent quarterbacks this season and his ability to take care of the ball earns him a roster spot in a conference full of turnover happy quarterbacks.
Manning's interception total of 13 is far higher than it should be, but his yards and touchdowns are among the league's elite making him difficult to vote against in a down year for NFC quarterbacks.
It's difficult to argue with the league's leading rusher both in terms of yards and touchdowns.
Johnson is tied with Ahmad Bradshaw at third in the league in rushing yards, but second overall is the NFC's Adrian Peterson. His nine touchdowns are good enough for second overall in the league.
Many people may disagree with sending McFadden ahead of Hillis, Charles, or Mendenhall but McFadden is fourth in rushing yards even having missed time this season. His 108.1 yards per game average is tops in the league.
Just kidding...kind of.
Peterson has almost been flying under the radar due to all of the drama that consistently surrounds Brett Favre. Peterson hasn't complained so far and owns the lead in rushing yards and touchdowns in the NFC.
Bradshaw has excelled in all aspects of the Giants running game except for holding on to the ball. His yardage and touchdown totals are good enough for second place amongst NFC backs but he leads all NFC running backs in fumbles. If he can't hold on to the ball this vote may have to go to somebody that can.
Turner has been excellent this season racking up five rushing touchdowns to go along with no fumbles. He has been a catalyst in Atlanta's successes and will be rewarded for contributions to team success.
Part of Kyle Orton's rise to Pro Bowl status has been a result of his chemistry with Lloyd who leads the NFL in receiving yards and is averaging over 100 yards per contest with 20 yards per reception.
When Owens and Ochocinco teamed up during the offseason most of the questions were about whether or not Owens could still perform on a high level. All of those questions have disappeared as Owens ranks third in the league in receiving yards and is tied for fifth in touchdown receptions.
Bowe is only averaging 67.3 receiving yards a game but it's difficult to argue with his nine touchdown receptions, good for a share of the league lead.
Johnson gets the nod here over Reggie Wayne although their resumes are largely similar. Johnson has one more touchdown and more yards even though he missed a game earlier this season.
White is one of two receivers averaging over 100 yards receiving per game while leading the league in receptions. White is part of a Falcons offense that has carried Atlanta to the league's best record.
Nicks is tied for the lead in the NFC in receiving touchdowns and is second in the conference in receiving yards.
Johnson is also tied for the conference lead with nine receiving touchdowns. Johnson has been producing regardless of who is playing quarterback for the Lions and has been an extraordinary bright spot on an improving Lions squad.
Austin also continues to produce regardless of who is under center and could help the Cowboys salvage some sense of dignity this season. Austin is sandwiched between Nicks and Johnson in terms of receiving yards but has had trouble finding the end zone. Chances are his lack of touchdowns is more on the team than on Austin so he's a Pro Bowler none the less.