NFL All-Pro Team: Voting System Flawed to the Point of No Return

Nick SignorelliSenior Writer IJanuary 7, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 04:  Justin Smith #94 and Isaac Sopoaga #90 of the San Francisco 49ers enter the field against the St. Louis Rams during an NFL game on October 4, 2009 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

When people talk about the Pro Bowl, one of the biggest criticisms is players who receive votes from "fans" based on their popularity instead of how they performed that season. Some think when players and coaches vote, instead of picking the best players from that year, they pick those with the best reputation.

I have even heard on various TV/radio/Internet channels that the "writers" should be making these decisions, because they are more knowledgeable about the situation.

Two things:

1. I am not talking about writers here on Bleacher having votes. I am talking about the "REAL" writers, those who work for ESPN, Sports Illustrated and others.

2. SOME of those writers are worthy of their respect.  Others, simply have no clue.

As I was reading an article on this morning, I read something that actually made me laugh.

Apparently, the San Francisco 49ers' Justin Smith, who is a great player, and, in my opinion, should be an All-Pro player, was in fact voted as an All-Pro.

At TWO positions.

Yes, two positions. Only problem? HE DOES NOT PLAY TWO POSITIONS!

Smith was voted for nine times at his REAL position, defensive end. Though it was not good enough for first-team consideration, he earned a spot on the second team. That is nothing to be ashamed of.

The strange part is, Smith received a whopping 35 of the possible 50 votes for the defensive tackle position, a position he has never played. Incredibly, 35 votes gives smith a first-team nomination at a position he does not play.

Amazingly, Smith is better at a position he does not play than every DT in the NFL with the exception of the Ravens Haloti Ngata.

Now, I understand that people make mistakes. It happens. But for 35 VOTERS to not know what position Smith plays, how can they vote for him? If this was something that was voted on by the fans, then I can see them getting it wrong.

But these are supposed to be the professionals. These are the men that are supposed to KNOW about the sport more than the rest of the world.  For them to not understand the position the player plays, honestly, it is the most pathetic thing I have ever seen.

The Excuse

Now, PFT did a good job at defusing the article by stating:

"The confusion arises from the fact that Smith is a defensive end in a 3-4 defense, which has caused plenty of voters—at least 35 of them—to think that he’s an interior defensive lineman."

Sorry, doesn't work for me. Teams have been running the 3-4 defense for decades, and just because the voters don't understand the importance of the 3-4 ends, and not wanting to give them credit over people with better numbers, is no excuse.

LANDOVER, MD - NOVEMBER 20:  DeMarcus Ware #94 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates after sacking  Rex Grossman #8 of the Washington Redskins during the second half at FedExField on November 20, 2011 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Solution (Part 1)

The 3-4 defense and the 4-3 defense are VERY different defenses. The 3-4 uses their linemen to tie up the offensive linemen so that the linebackers make the plays. Though the linemen are as important, they don't get the recognition as those that are in the 4-3 base defense.

Same can be said about the 4-3 linebackers, who get nowhere near the numbers of a 3-4 line backer, because they are more in coverage.

Want proof? The league leaders in sacks for the 2011 season:

- Jared Allen, DE, Vikings: (4-3) 22

- DeMarcus Ware, OLB, Cowboys: (3-4) 19.5

- Jason Babin, DE, Eagles: (4-3) 18

- Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, Giants: (4-3) 16.5

Next in line is Terrel Suggs on the Ravens, who is listed as an OLB, but that is in the base defense, and when the Ravens go to their pass situations, Suggs is an end pass-rusher, and one of the best in the NFL.

What the NFL needs to do is instead of trying to compare apples (3-4) to oranges (4-3), have two different defensive All-Pro Teams—one for the front seven of the 3-4 and the other for the 4-3.

CINCINNATI, OH - JANUARY 01:  Terrell Suggs #55 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates a defensive play during the NFL game against  the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on January 1, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Solution (Part 2)

The other issue is that the people that vote for these awards are the same people year in and year out. When it comes to people like Peter King (who is, at least in my opinion, the cream of the crop when it comes to writers), you can expect integrity in his vote.

Some of these other people, like the 35 that voted Justin Smith as a defensive tackle, seem to be more interested for either voting for a player they like or simply looking at a stat sheet and seeing who put up the best numbers.

If you are going to do it that way, what is the point of even having voters? Just give it to the player with the best stats.

The writers need to be changed every year. No longer should only the "BIG" websites get a vote as to who is the best. Sites, such as Bleacher, should be used by the NFL, and the writers with votes should be changed every year.

No, I am not saying that the NFL should simply pick Bleacher writers; Bleacher should recommend a certain number of writers based on unbiased articles and the NFL should choose between them.

That way you don't get the same people making the same votes every year, and it levels the playing field. It also uses people that actually, you know, watch the games.

As much as some people may think my idea is so far out of whack that I have no business even writing on a site like Bleacher, at least I know the difference between a defensive tackle and a defensive end.

And I don't even get paid to write.


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