The Pro Bowl rosters were announced Tuesday night on NFL Network. As is always the case, several deserving players were left off the rosters. Who was your biggest snub?
Stafford, Bowman should have made NFC rosterThe biggest for me was Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. He deserved to be named. No slight to any of the others because it's a tough argument, but the Lions were, well, the Lions until Stafford was healthy. Now they are a playoff team. He conducts a tough offense that's pretty devoid of a running game and makes everyone around him better. Haven't heard much about the offensive line issues in awhile, have we?
On defense, 49ers inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman should have made it. So many people around the league speak highly of him. He makes a ton of plays and not just from the scraps Patrick Willis leaves behind.
Hernandez, Barwin deserved AFC honorsI don't have a huge problem with these teams -- less issues than normal. I think Todd Herremens, moving to a new position on an Eagles offensive line that jelled as the season went on, merited consideration. Sean Lee of the Cowboys could have been among the NFC linebackers, and Curtis Lofton of the Falcons, too, for that matter.
In the AFC, no way am I going with Antonio Gates. He only seemed to be right and himself in the final 4-6 weeks and by then San Diego's season was virtually a wash. I'd have taken Aaron Hernandez -- even though he plays "behind" Rod Gronkowski in New England -- or Dustin Keller before Gates, and possibly Owen Daniels as well.
And I'm not going with Andre Carter. I love him, great dude, but he parlayed a few big prime-time games on an overall atrocious defense. I'd take Connor Barwin before him, and in general the Texans defense was under-repped here. (LaMarr Woodley was dominant when he played, but the Steelers star missed a lot of time this season).
No Lynch? No Clark? No doubt they were snubbedThe Pro Bowl will be played in Hawaii without the guy with the rainbow-colored Skittles on his shoes. Marshawn Lynch deserves to be honored here, and while he likely will get in because of injuries, it is rather insulting that heâs left off initially. Iâll even defend the Eli Manning pick because, at the time, Eli deserved it. But even the most ardent Giants would admit that if the vote was taken today, Matthew Stafford is the clear winner.
A couple of things stand out on the AFC side, and thatâs the lack of great quarterbacks in the conference. You have Tom Brady and then a whole lot of nothing. I guess Ben Roethlisberger and the other guy deserve to get in, but mostly by default.
And I know the Steelers' Ryan Clark is never going to get the vote over Ed Reed because NFL people are conditioned to just accept Reed as the best free safety as an inevitability, like death and taxes. But Eric Weddle ahead of Clark? Iâm just not seeing that.
Gronkowski hurts his own teammateI would replace San Diego TE Antonio Gates with New England TE Aaron Hernandez. While there is no doubt that Antonio Gates is a Hall of Famer in waiting, as well as an absolute warrior in trying to play through injury, Hernandez has had a terrific season. Perhaps, Hernandez suffers from being the Robin to Rob Gronkowski's Batman, but don't overlook what the former Gator brings to the table as well. He's also a matchup nightmare, and I suspect that if he had to carry the load alone, his numbers would jump and he would get the same recognition as Gronk.
Manning doesn't make senseThe selection of Eli Manning felt right ... at first. Unfortunately, this is a case of a player getting votes before he struggles, which Manning certainly has the last couple of weeks. Tony Romo would've been a better choice, irrespective of some people's bias against him. Look no further than his 29 touchdowns to nine interceptions. Matthew Stafford would also be a smarter selection, despite the fact that many feel he is a one-trick pony looking for Calvin Johnson all the time. Even Cam Newton, he of the 14 rushing touchdowns, merits consideration.
In the AFC, it would be nice to see one of the offensive linemen from the Texans to get a nod. Perhaps tackle Eric Winston, or center Chris Myers (no, not the guy from FOX Sports.) I know, not the flashiest entry into the "Instant Debate" sector here. We are talking about Texans offensive linemen after all. But, come on. This group has spearheaded a run game that puts up 153.1 rush yards per game. Oh, and the Texans' front five has been getting it done in pass protection too, having allowed a mere 30 sacks this season. Just sayin'.