Sports awards should be taken with a shrug… and then forgotten. In fact, anything that has fans voting I immediately dismiss as bogus, even if it doesn’t compile 100% of the final result. Time and time again we see fans vote for their home team (as well we should expect them to), players vote on reputation and respect (without regards to recent performance), and media vote for those who give them the best interviews (don’t deny it, it matters). Remember when Jason Varitek was named an All-Star when he was hitting under the Mendoza Line? Or when Derek Jeter was give the Gold Glove… ever? Pro Bowl rosters are even sillier. Remember when Vince Young was a Pro Bowl quarterback? There were so many defections and so many players dropping out, I believe he was the 5th or 6th choice that year. Ravens fans, with their eyes on the Super Bowl, should be even less concerned with who is named to a team they don’t plan to play on. With that in mind, the decision to name 5 Ravens to the Pro Bowl (Cundiff, Ngata, Lewis, Reed, Suggs) is great to see… but I won’t get hung up on the names left off the list.
Let’s look at the AFC roster for a minute. No, Ray Rice didn’t make it as a running back. But is his production really better than Jamaal Charles, who is on a near record pace in terms of yards per carry over a season? Or Maurice Jones-Drew, who has almost single-handedly dragged the hapless Jaguars into playoff position? Or Arian Foster, who came out of no where to give Houston a decisive running attack? Rice had a very good year, and I would actually take him as my number one back (except maybe Jones-Drew) over the course of his career. But Pro Bowl rosters are about either gaudy numbers or reputation. Rice doesn’t yet have the reputation, and he didn’t have the numbers this season.
At wide receiver, Anquan Boldin certainly has the reputation of an high production playmaker, but was beaten out by two players with even better reputations and two with gaudy numbers, with the Dwayne Bowe show going on to the tune of 15 touchdowns this season. Boldin? 7. He also had 22 fewer catches this season than last season, and almost 200 fewer yards. That does not a Pro Bowler make. Andre Johnson and the perennial Pro Bowler Reggie Wayne were locks, and there just wasn’t room for a receiver on a middle-of-the-road passing game.
Don’t get me started on the offensive line, I don’t think anyone would argue that any of them deserve a Pro Bowl mention. I think Todd Heap was a bit overlooked with how well he played this season, making more catches down the field and looking like the playmaker of old. However, Marcedes Lewis just had better numbers. So who is left? Joe Flacco? With Philip Rivers, Tom Brady, and Peyton Manning as locks, Flacco may have to wait a long time for that chance regardless of how well he playes. For those who say there aren’t enough good quarterbacks in the NFL, Matt Cassel, Matt Schaub, Ben Roethlisberger, and Joe Flacco would like a word with you.
I don’t care that their numbers weren’t good enough to get them into a meaningless game. The Ravens have a great core of offensive talent, and let’s be honest, some Ravens have been aided by reputation above substance before. It is all a dog and pony show, and players who put up gaudy numbers are generally a product of a poor offense that needs to force the ball to their one and only great skill position player. Baltimore certainly has it’s offensive issues- see the poll lower on the main page for evidence of that. But I won’t be getting hung up on the Pro Bowl anytime soon.