Giants safety spot on calling Pro Bowl ‘a joke’
By Eric Wilkins, Sports Editor
Antrel Rolle was visibly off-put by his exclusion from the Pro Bowl roster when he took to Twitter, “Tell me which safety has better numbers and made more game changing plays than me this year???? I’ll wait!!!! This probowl shit is a joke.”
And after a season in which he posted 98 tackles, six interceptions, two sacks, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery, he may have a right to complain. He was one of the few bright spots on a miserable year in New York, and it wouldn’t be hard to argue that Eric Berry, Troy Polamalu, and Kam Chancellor got in ahead of him on reputation and name alone. The crucial bit Rolle’s missing here is that the roster isn’t picked solely by the coaches and the players—it’s also selected by the fans.
The fans’ ballots count for one-third of the voting, which is more than enough to turn the tide in many cases. It’s not as if those who vote have to undergo any sort of NFL knowledge test either; they simply head onto the site and vote away. If such a person were so inclined, someone who has never watched a game in their life could pop on and pick favourites based on team colours, and it’s that type of possibility that trivializes the game. Inasmuch as one understands the desire to involve the fans, does the involvement have to be in such a sought-after honour? And if the fans do have to be a part of it, why not release two rosters: one selected by coaches and players and the other by the fans? Only one roster would play of course, but it’s not as if anyone actually tunes into that pillow fight anyway, so no harm done.
The tendency with armchair quarterbacks is to focus on stats, overemphasize the importance of certain categories, and, most importantly, pick the big names. While one can generally get away with this on offence, there are generally a few notable misses on defence. Two of the major exclusions this year were outside linebackers (OLB) Lavonte David and Thomas Davis; both put up monster tackle numbers and were crucial cogs for their respective teams. So why weren’t they picked? Sacks. Fans are enamoured with the sack column and the outside linebacker spot has become a popular area to slot in edge rushers. The result? OLBs putting up gaudy defensive end sack totals that attract the voters like students to coffee shops. I wouldn’t have an issue with either Ahmad Brooks or John Abraham (or both) coming off the roster to slot in David or Davis. There are numerous other names—Muhammad Wilkerson being another standout—but that duo perfectly illustrates the flaw in fan voting. It’s one of the few moments in life one can feel perfectly comfortable proclaiming the people shouldn’t have a voice.