Unlike the average fan I've always tried to watch the Pro Bowl; not because the game is interesting, but because the game is a piece of the leagues history. When we look back on seasons we don't care about who won a week 4 contest between the Patriots and the Jaguars, but we do remember what players represented their conference in the Pro Bowl.
So why not watch the game? Where else this decade could you see Peyton Manning, Tony Gonzalez, LaDanian Tomlinson, and Randy Moss in the same huddle?
Okay, so the game sucks, but they try to make as entertaining as possible with a lot of great interviews (anyone recall Peyton Manning's interview about Mike Vanderjagt after the 2002 season's Pro Bowl? Can you believe that video isn't on Youtube?), interesting fan calls, and a lot of passing.
Even if you don't watch the game, chances are you vote for the Pro Bowl. If not I'm going to strongly encourage you to, after all, tomorrow is Election Day. It's your civil duty. Adding a little sizzle to this years Pro Bowl is that the game is going to be played on the Saturday Night before the Super Bowl in Miami. I think this recipe will not only add ratings to the game, but also the players will still have a little extra fire in them.
Here is a list of 11 players to vote for who you may not realize, but are having Pro Bowl caliber seasons.
1. Peyton Manning, 2. Ray Lewis, 3. James Harrison, 4. Larry Fitzgerald, 5. Dwight Freeney, 6. Tom Brady, 7. Tony Gonzalez, 8. Ed Reed, 9. Antonio Gates, 10. Steve Hutchinson, 11. Adrian Peterson.
There you have it... Actually that was a list of 11 players who will get voted into the game based on name recognition and the fact that it feels like they get selected to the game every season; even when they're hurt.
Here is my real list of 11 players that you should vote for for this years Pro Bowl; in no particular order.
1. Vincent Jackson, Wide Receiver - Jackson has been a machine this year, dominating the elite receivers in YPC. He'll likely be competing with Reggie Wayne and Andre Johnson for the leagues yardage leader, as well as a spot on the Pro Bowl roster. If your debating between Moss, Ochocinco, and Jackson for your final Pro Bowl spot; leave Moss off, select Jackson.
2. Cedric Benson, Running Back - 720 yards rushing, 5 touchdowns. That's through seven games. This guy should've been AFC offensive player of the month for October, and he's left off the Pro Bowl roster than I may consider not watching. It's a tough contest with Chris Johnson, Rashard Mendenhall, Thomas Jones, and Maurice Jones-Drew also in the mix; but Benson has to be one of the players you select.
3. Dallas Clark, Tight End - Can you believe that Clark has never been selected to the Pro Bowl? Last year he deserved to go over either Gates or Gonzalez, but this year he not only deserves to go; he deserves to start. Through seven games he has more yards and receptions than Randy Moss.
4. Steven Jackson, Running Back- Lost in the Rams presently abysmal season is the fact that Steven Jackson is on pace for 1,500 yards. As a reward for sticking with it and continuing to play hard in St. Louis Jackson deserves a spot in the leagues annual all star game. I think Adrian Peterson will top him for the leagues rushing title, but Jackson should earn a spot on the Pro Bowl roster.
5. Matt Schaub, Quarterback - It'll be tough for Schaub to get voted in to the Pro Bowl with names like Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady, and Phil Rivers flooding the field; but as it stands now Schaub's team has a better chance at going to the playoffs than one of those QB's, and has played on par with all 4. He currently leads not only the AFC, but the NFL in touchdown passes. Chances are one of the four aforementioned QB's will be starting in the Super Bowl, and odds are another one will probably sit the game out with an injury, so Schaub will probably make it; but he should receive the honor of being selected.
6. Kirk Morrison, Linebacker - Oakland's season highlight has been Morrison's defensive play; He currently heads the NFL with 56 solo tackles, and should easily nail the 100 mark. Further making the case for Morrison to be playing in the Pro Bowl is that he's on the field far more than any linebacker in the league, considering how many three and outs the Raiders pick up each week.
7. Jairus Byrd, Defensive Back - Buffalo's rookie out of Oregon Jairus Byrd has made every team that drafted a defensive back in the first round regret their decision. All Byrd has done as a rookie is pick up seven interceptions and defend nine passes. He currently leads all AFC defensive backs by four interceptions. If Byrd gets to double digit interceptions this year he'll belong in the Pro Bowl. For now, vote for him counting on him getting to that number.
8. Jacoby Jones, Kick Returner - I'm not saying you shouldn't vote for Joshua Cribbs, but Jones has one fewer touchdown, but no turnovers to Cribbs two. Also, Jones special teams play has been a large part of Houston's thus far successful 2009, while Cribbs has been a mild bright spot on an otherwise abysmal Cleveland Browns team. I'm not saying penalize Cribbs for being a good player on a bad team, my plee is to reward Jones for being a good players on a good team.
9. Sebastian Janikowski, Kicker - Forget about glamour Stephen Gostkowski, Nate Kaeding, and (injured) Adam Vinatieri, Janikowski has outperformed all three this season on a team who needs his three pointers more than any other in the league. Janikowski has hit an AFC leading seven field goals from over 40 yards. Janikowski won't lead the league in points this year, but he's a proven elite kicker, and in 2009 he belongs in the Pro Bowl.
10. James Laurinatis, Linebacker - The former Ohio State linebacker fell into the second round in the 2009 draft and hasn't let it out of his head. Not only has Laurinatis outperformed everyone else on the Rams defense, but he's also picked up two interceptions. At this point in the season Laurinatis should not only be competing for the defensive rookie of the year award, but also for a spot on this years Pro Bowl roster.
11. London Fletcher, Linebacker - Can you believe that this guy has yet to be in a Pro Bowl? Please make 2009 the year he finally makes it. All Fletcher has done his entire career, including 2009, is get in on every play. So far this year he's been a part of 71 tackles, including one sack, and he's defended another two passes. The Redskins may be awful, but Fletcher is an animal.
So there you have it; those are 11 players you should vote for in this years Pro Bowl. Now follow this link and go vote for them! (as well as the same old players you vote for every year).