Five players that got shafted by Pro Bowl voting

It’s easy to sit here and play armchair Pro Bowl GM, and while indeed all of us have the ability to influence the player selections, that doesn’t mean as a collective group that we get it right. So as always, there were a few players, even after injury substitutions were announced, who are home this weekend instead of playing in the Pro Bowl in Miami—players who truly deserved a spot on the NFC or AFC roster. Here are a few glaring omissions as we see it:

Cedric Benson, RB, Cincinnati Bengals—For as good as the Bengals’ defense was in 2009, they won all those games early in the season in part because their running game was downright dominant. And a big reason for that was Benson, whose 96.2 yards per game was second only to Tennessee’s Chris Johnson. Benson, who just turned 27 in December, has been injury prone most of his young career, but this was by far his best season, and he even led the NFL in rushing for a bit before Johnson caught fire. Of course, Benson’s six touchdowns are probably what kept him out of the Pro Bowl (Maurice Jones-Drew had 15 and Johnson 14), but there is no question about how valuable he was to the Bengals, helping them to exceed all expectations.

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers—With all due respect to every other QB in the AFC, how do David Garrard and Vince Young get in ahead of Big Ben? I can sort of understand Young, who took the Titans on his back and may have even warranted MVP consideration. But Garrard? Roethlisberger had 4328 yards, 26 TDs and 12 picks, while Garrard threw for 3597 with 15 TD throws and 10 interceptions. Of course, Ben also dealt with concussions, so I can understand an injury keeping him out, but he’s not listed with the injured players selected, so that means more people than not left him off the roster. Does that make sense to anyone?

Brent Celek, TE, Philadelphia Eagles—This one was purely a numbers game, because you absolutely can’t argue with Jason Witten and Vernon Davis getting in ahead of Celek. But that’s not his fault. Look, I’m a Giants fan so it’s not easy for me to admit this, but I love this kid as a football player. He’s tough, makes big catches with consistency, and is always open for Donovan McNabb in the end zone. He’ll also take a defender’s head off if they get in his path. Of course, Celek’s numbers were stellar too–he caught 76 passes for just under 1000 yards (971) with 8 scores. They should have allowed an extra NFC tight end just this once.

Andre Carter, DE, Washington Redskins—I get why Jared Allen and Trent Cole made the Pro Bowl roster, but I don’t get how Andre Carter missed out while Julius Peppers got in. Peppers has the name recognition, but Carter led all defensive ends in solo tackles (48) and had twenty more total tackles than Peppers (62 to 42). He had 11 sacks to Peppers’ 10.5, sure, but when you look at the whole picture, somebody blew an assignment. And the thing is, everyone talks about Albert Haynesworth, but Carter never gets the credit he deserves, not even on his own team.

James Laurinaitis, LB, St. Louis Rams—I get why Jon Beason is the top dog at ILB for the NFC, and I also get why London Fletcher finally made the roster when Jonathan Vilma’s Saints reached the Super Bowl. I’m just not sure why rookie Laurinaitis didn’t make it in ahead of Vilma. Laurinaitis led all rookies in solo tackles with 107 (Vilma had 87), and in the NFL he trailed only Patrick Willis, Beason and Kirk Morrison in that department. Laurinaitis also had 2 sacks and 2 interceptions. This kid was a beast in the middle on a team that won only 1 game in 2009, and short of having to pay dues, I’m not exactly sure how he was left off the Pro Bowl roster.

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Colts president could do without this year’s Pro Bowl

Bill Polian

Indianapolis Colts president Bill Polian dislikes the 2010 Pro Bowl as much as every NFL fan.

From ESPN.com:

“It’s stupid,” he said on the Dan Dakich Show on 1070 The Fan in Indianapolis. “It’s a disruption, but we’ll deal with it.”

Polian: “Well, we’ll come back to practice on Wednesday. We’ll practice Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. They’ll have off Saturday. If it weren’t for the Pro Bowl disruption, they would have the weekend off, but they can’t because we have to send those players to Miami to do Lord knows what. We’ll come back and practice on Sunday and the Pro Bowl players will go and do whatever they have to do and then the team will leave on Monday.”

(So the Pro Bowl players you will fly down there and they just fly back that day?)

“I don’t know that they fly them back. I think they plan to keep them down there that evening. They haven’t even told us yet what this is all about. We don’t even have any details or anything like that. Maybe they will call us Friday and tell us. In any event, the fact of the matter is that we’re thinking that they’re down there Sunday night and they will meet us Monday, which is a hell of a thing isn’t it? It sends a great message to all the young people out there and all the coaches that talk teamwork that you take your best seven players and split them up from your team at the ultimate moment in sports.”

You can’t argue with Polian. A black cloud has been cast over a seemingly enjoyable event because of its bad scheduling. With the Super Bowl coming up, neither the Colts or the New Orleans Saints should be worrying this much about the coordination of their players’ flights.

Is Jason Taylor in the Pats’ future?

The Providence Journal is reporting that free agent defensive end Jason Taylor is close to becoming a member of the New England Patriots. Some within the organization believe a handshake agreement is already in place.

The Journal also notes:

From the moment he hit the free-agent market, New England has been targeted as a likely destination for the six-time Pro Bowler. Pats’ owner Robert Kraft said Taylor can become a Patriot if that’s what he wants, and it’s hard to believe head coach Bill Belichick would put up much of a fight given his history of fairly gushing over the former Miami Dolphins’ star.

Belichick has always had an eye on acquiring Taylor, and it wouldn’t be too impossible to believe that a playbook would be given him to study over the summer months. This would allow Taylor to spend time with his family and then sign an agreement with the Pats prior to the start of training camp. Belichick has made similar concessions in the past with other veteran players, including QB Vinny Testaverde, who was allowed to miss a majority of training camp a few seasons ago.

Blogging the Bloggers: Abe Lincoln’s hot offspring, Fitz punks Cooley and more

SPORTSBYBROOKS has the story of a hot New Jersey Nets dancer who claims to be a direct descendant of one Abraham Lincoln.

– If you didn’t catch the Pro Bowl (and really, who would?), Larry Fitzgerald dissed Chris Cooley in the end zone. CHRIS COOLEY’S BLOG has the first hand account, and YARDBARKER has the video.

– Female DEADSPIN writers deconstruct the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.

THE LOVE OF SPORTS has a great list of the one-hit wonders of the NBA All-Star Game. You know, guys who made the team and didn’t really deserve it.

DEADSPIN comments on Mitch Albom’s comments on bloggers who comment on…whatever it is that bloggers comment on. (I wouldn’t know.)

Top 10 active NFL passing leaders

The 2008 NFL season is now in the books. Well, unless you love football so much that you actually watch and care about the Pro Bowl tomorrow. You know how I would care about it? If I was in Hawaii. But that’s just me. Anyway, as some of the game’s great quarterbacks padded their career stats, let’s take a look at the active Top 10 in passing yards:

1. Brett Favre, New York Jets (65,127)—Sure, he led the NFL in interceptions this past season with 22, but Favre threw for 3472 yards and 22 touchdowns. Will this number stand, or will Favre add to it? I think I speak for every sportswriter out there when I say I’m tired of reading about and writing about Favre’s impending retirement.

2. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts (45,628)—With 20,000 yards to catch Favre, it will take Manning, who has averaged over 4000 yards per season for 11 years, another five seasons to get there. Manning is only 32, so I’d bet on that. Well, unless Favre retires and unretires a few more times.

3. Kerry Collins, Tennessee Titans (37,393)—It’s hard to believe Collins is only 36 years old, and leading the Titans to the best record in the NFL in 2008 sparked a fire under him. And that fire will continue to burn in Nashville despite how Vince Young feels about it.

4. Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia Eagles (29,320)—McNabb is 82-45-1 as a starter over 10 seasons in Philly. Wait, can NFL games end in ties? Anyway, McNabb has thrown 194 touchdowns with just 90 interceptions. But the guy has no rings, and was so nervous in his lone Super Bowl appearance that he vomited in the huddle. I don’t get it.

5. Brad Johnson, Dallas Cowboys (29,054)—Johnson stopped putting up meaningful numbers a few seasons ago, and he looked awful for those three games he started in place of Tony Romo this year. Let’s just say we shouldn’t expect ol’ Brad to reach 30,000 passing yards for his career.

6. Kurt Warner, Arizona Cardinals (28,591)—Okay, so he didn’t win his second Super Bowl ring, but Warner still has an amazingly accurate arm at 37. He said he won’t tease us all with retirement talk ala Favre, but my feeling is he’s not anywhere close to being done.

7. Trent Green, St. Louis Rams (28,475)—Green has started the equivalent of one season’s games over the past three, and he’s taken some brutal hits that have left given him multiple concussions. If I was Green, and I know I’m not, I would hang it up now.

8. Jon Kitna, Detroit Lions (27,293)—Kitna has had some bad luck. He played on some bad Bengals teams and then signed with the Lions in 2006. And though Kitna went down with an injury after four games this past season, he still was part of the first 0-16 team in NFL history.

9. Tom Brady, New England Patriots (26,446)—Here’s the irony. Brady had 76 passing yards before a brutal knee injury ended his season in Week 1. If he had played 16 games, there’s a very good chance he’d be as high as fourth on this list today.

10. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints (26,258)—Brees came within 15 yards of Dan Marino’s single season record of 5084 passing yards, but he still made fantasy owners happy, and still climbed onto this list as a result.

Source: Pro Football Reference

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