Every year it's fun to debate whether or not a specific player is "having a Pro Bowl season." It's fun to do because usually a great player gets left off the roster.
For example, this year for quarterback in the AFC the race was pretty much between five quarterbacks for three spots: Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Philip Rivers eventually ended up being chosen, while Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Schaub were left off.
When the rosters were announced leading into week 16, they meant something. Now, a month later, they mean absolutely nothing... at least to the players.
Earlier this week Tom Brady dropped out of the Pro Bowl as he does almost every year. Roethlisberger, the first alternate to the Pro Bowl, then dropped out as well, opening up a roster spot for Matt Schaub, QB #5 in voting. Though the star appeal of Brady or Roethlisberger would be great for the game, it's also good to see Matt Schaub get some respect for his very good season.
Then, about a day later, Philip Rivers dropped out of the game citing injuries (I suppose a bruised massive ego counts as an injury), opening the door for Vince Young to go to his second Pro Bowl. Though Young's 2009 deserves some appreciation, the guy only starter ten games. It also would have been nice to see Philip Rivers put a good ending on a year that has turned sour for the San Diego QB. At the very least, Rivers could have benefited from being around the other Pro Bowl players.
If Peyton Manning wins Sunday's AFC Championship he too will skip the Pro Bowl considering this year it is the week before the Super Bowl. At that point the AFC would go fishing for its seventh quarterback. Considering there are sixteen starters in the AFC, the seventh quarterback is pretty much going to be about as mediocre as they come.
And mediocre he would be; either Carson Palmer, David Gerrard, Kyle Orton, or Joe Flacco would be named to the Pro Bowl in the event of the Colts winning this weekend.
Not to mention the other six Pro Bowl spots that would open up in the AFC if the Colts went to the Super Bowl.
At this point it looks as if a little over half of the selected players to the Pro Bowl will participate in next weekends game. If the Colts and Vikings win this week, the two rosters will lose at least 15 participants.
Though the game will still go on, it will almost all of it's luster. It will go from being the game that features the best of the best, to the game that features the guys who have a lock on their jobs but aren't exactly franchise players.
The NFL will not be getting rid of the Pro Bowl anytime soon given they have a contract set up to go back to Hawaii in a few years. The only solution to this mess is for both the fans and the media to disregard the Pro Bowl from here on out and look only at All-Pro selections when pondering a players validation for the Hall of Fame.