While the Pro Bowl itself is little more than a glorified scrimmage, being named to the team is still considered to be an honor whether the player chooses to compete or not. While the teams are usually a shell of their intended selves when the game is played, the Pro Bowl selections are widely regarded as the league's elite players.
Plenty of players will be snubbed for one reason or another, but the worst way for it to happen is due to injury. Several players were on pace for monster seasons this year before significant injuries derailed things. Here are three players that are deserving of a Pro Bowl nod, but will be snubbed because of injuries.
Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills
Through 10 games this season, Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson was on pace for one of the best statistical seasons by a running back ever. Not only did he have 934 rushing yards and average 5.5 yards per carry, but he reeled in 39 passes for 442 yards through the air and reached pay dirt a total of six times. It's no coincidence that the Bills went downhill in the aftermath of his injury.
Even if Jackson had compiled those numbers over a full 16-game schedule he would be worthy of Pro Bowl consideration, but the fact that he did that over essentially two-thirds of a season is something special.
I understand that he wouldn't be able to play in the Pro Bowl if selected, but he deserves to be recognized. For a 30-year-old, undrafted running back out of a Division III school to do what he did is nothing short of amazing.
Leon Hall, Cincinnati Bengals
While defensive backs tend to be lauded over more for their interception totals than anything in the NFL, there is no doubt that Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Leon Hall has developed into a shutdown corner. With Jonathan Joseph signing in Houston the Bengals needed Hall to step up and become the No. 1 guy this season, and he answered the bell.
Hall had only two interceptions through nine games this season before tearing his Achilles' tendon, but much of that had to do with his development as a player. Opposing teams were afraid to throw at Hall because of his superior cover skills.
He was beginning to be treated similarly to New York Jets corner Darrelle Revis, who is widely regarded as the best in the league. The Bengals pass defense regressed after Hall went down, proving his true worth as a Pro Bowl-caliber player.
Which injured player is most deserving of a Pro Bowl nod?
Matt Forte, Chicago Bears
No non-quarterback was more responsible for his team's offensive success this season than Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte. Prior to a knee injury that has sidelined him since Week 13, Forte was just three yards shy of 1,000 on the ground and he gobbled up 52 passes for 490 yards to boot.
Forte wasn't a big scorer with just four touchdowns, but a lot of that had to do with Marion Barber vulturing his goal-line carries.
Regardless of that, Forte was the biggest reason why the Bears were poised to go back to the playoffs after a slow start. After he and quarterback Jay Cutler went down, however, they went into a tailspin and haven't won since.
There are plenty of starting backs that don't even have 1,000 rushing yards yet through 15 games, yet Forte essentially got there in 11 games. Because of his dominance for the majority of the season, I believe Forte deserves to be selected to the Pro Bowl.