I understand that voting for the NFL Pro Bowl starts early every year. But as usual, it irritates me this year, too. I don't have as much problem with the Pro Bowl itself as many do, but it isn't even the halfway point of the regular season yet!
Every year, there are a number of players that are "snubbed" by the Pro Bowl voting, and I'm sure this year it will be no different.
There may be some hope this season, however, because of the fact that there is no single dominant team taking over media attention at this point in the season. Let's hope so.
There is also a relatively loud clamour to not even play this game every year. There are a number different reasons cited for this, from the game itself being boring to watch to claims that most players don't WANT to play in it.
Following Super Bowl XXXIX, former star Cowboys' quarterback Troy Aikman voiced his opinion on the matter:
"I know Paul Tagliabue isn't going to want to hear this: Nobody wants to play in a Pro Bowl," Aikman said.
"Everybody wants to be voted in. Everybody wants to be in Hawaii. But nobody wants to play. The roster is filled with alternate players. The guys who are voted in aren't even on the field."
To be fair, only 14 players withdrew from the Pro Bowl that year, and some of the league's biggest star quarterbacks did in fact play.
But for the voting to begin so early AND end so early, seems to me to be a major failure on the NFL's part. Many teams have serious "slumps" through the midpoint of the season, only to put together a major push to get into the playoffs.
This would'nt be a big deal, but the Pro Bowl has become almost exclusively nothing more than a popularity contest. Fan voting only counts for 30 percent of the ballot. That's all well and good, except that most fans don't vote for the players they consider "the best" at a given position.
Rather they vote for players they like or the players on their favorite team no matter how good (or bad) those players may be in comparison to others around the NFL.
Also, it creates an atmosphere that players on teams with smaller market share or little national TV exposure simply cannot break into.
Add to these inherent issues the fact that Pro Bowl voting ends in December, before the regular season ends and the Pro Bowl becomes even less significant.
Last season had several examples of the lack of recognition for the season's better players. 11 Dallas Cowboys were originally voted to the Pro Bowl last season. Marion didn't even reach 1,000 yards, a measure that has become a useless measuring stick when citing quality running backs, considering just how many runners achieve that mark every year.
Safety Roy Williams was inserted to take the spot that was never when Redskins' safety Sean Taylor was voted into the Pro Bowl posthumously.
ROY WILLIAMS!?!? Yup.
More often than not teams that are in the playoff hunt have more players make the Pro Bowl than teams not in the hunt. This speaks to exposure and TEAM play more than an INDIVIDUAL'S PERFORMANCE DURING THE SEASON, which was supposed to be the point of the Pro Bowl.
Perhaps if there is enough attention brought to the reality of what the Pro Bowl SHOULD be, enough fans will stop voting blindly and actually THINK before they click "SUBMIT BALLOT".
I say cut down the percentage fan votes count, and increase the amount player and coach votes count. That would truly become the "peer respect" that so many players covet.
Just end the "popularity contest", it has gotten old already.