Student writer Brett Tyndall maligns the fan-based voting method in the NFL’s All Star game, highlights snubbed players and gives his picks for who should have made the cut.
Since Pro Bowl rosters were released last week, the age-old argument of the Pro Bowl’s legitimacy comes into question once again. With the most recent group of selections, the Pro Bowl proves that it serves as nothing more than a popularity contest among players from the best teams in the NFL. The end-of-year selections continue to ignore standouts from teams that had lackluster seasons, have smaller followings among fans or are unfairly overshadowed by fellow teammates.
Just going by statistics, there are people who clearly should have gotten in. For example, Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker balled all season despite being stuck on a mostly putrid Dolphins team. He finished the year with 1,202 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. These numbers outclass Pro Bowl selection Jarvis Landry from the Cleveland Browns (1,174 yards and six touchdowns). Parker had the fourth most receiving yards this season and Landry finished with the ninth most.
This goes against the popular belief that everything about the Dolphins is complete garbage, so Parker didn’t make it. Tyreek Hill, star receiver for the Kansas City Chiefs, also doesn’t outstat Parker, but missed several games this season due to injury, which somewhat justifies his selection.
The rest of my complaints come out of the NFC, as two defensive stalwarts failed to make the cut of popular renown. Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith should’ve gotten in instead of Chicago’s Khalil Mack. Smith had 41 tackles, 14 tackle assists, 13.5 sacks and a forced fumble. Mack regressed from last season and had 40 tackles, 7 tackle assists, 8.5 sacks, but had 5 forced fumbles, recovering one of them. Smith took his snub personally in Green Bay’s divisional playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks. After sacking Seattle QB Russell Wilson, he pulled up his jersey to reveal his white undershirt, which had “SNUBBED” decaled in large, black text. He has a right to be upset, as he outperformed Khalil Mack in nearly every statistical category. An argument can also be made for San Francisco OLB Fred Warner, who also had a better season than Mack.
Another notable snub is Arizona Cardinals inside linebacker Jordan Hicks. Only four ILBs make it in the Pro Bowl, two from the AFC and two from the NFC, so this was bound to happen. The NFC’s Pro Bowl ILBs are Seattle’s Bobby Wagner and Carolina’s Luke Kuechly. They both have been statistically elite this season, but a big reason why these two made it is because they are Bobby Wagner and Luke Kuechly. The two have been dominant forces on defense since they were both drafted in 2012 and have rightfully earned the name recognition they have. With the news of Kuechly’s sudden retirement, it makes even more sense to include him on the Pro Bowl list. Football fans want to see him play one more time, even if it’s just an exhibition. However, Jordan Hicks was simply better all year and made a huge impact on an otherwise depleted and elderly Cardinals defense. Hicks finished with very comparable stats to Wagner, but outclassed Kuechly in most categories. Hicks had 12 more tackles, 1.5 more sacks, one more interception and forced more fumbles than Kuechly.
In the case of Za’Darius Smith, his snub can be attributed to how underrated the Green Bay defense is this season, especially the pass rush. For the past decade, the Packers have had a middling defense, at best, so public perception may still see them as only decent. DeVante Parker was shrouded by a supposed mist of suck in Miami and went nearly unnoticed because no one cared to keep track of a team that was supposed to be hilariously bad. But with Jordan Hicks, his snub comes from the fans’ collective respect for two superstar inside linebackers that have each been NFL elites for eight years. These are only a few of the notable snubs from this season, but there are plenty more. Cases can be made for Detroit WR Kenny Golladay, Green Bay RB Aaron Jones, Kansas City safety Tyrann Mathieu and so on. Someone needs to say it: fans should have little to no input on Pro Bowl rosters. There’s a reason why making the All-Pro team is more of an accolade.