The NFL’s most egregious Pro Bowl snub, Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman, won his appeal and won’t have to serve a four-game suspension for using a banned substance, meaning the Seahawks will have Sherman and Brandon Browner available for the playoffs. But news of Sherman’s failed test, first reported Nov. 28, certainly cost him a trip to Hawaii.
“I know we didn’t vote for him and the only reason was the PEDs,” an unidentified receivers coach from an NFC team told Yahoo.com.” But if you just want to talk about how he played, he was great. When I say he was the best corner in the league, I’m telling you that it wasn’t really that close.”
Sherman enters the final game of the regular season Sunday against St. Louis with seven interceptions (tied for second in the league), three forced fumbles and one touchdown. The score followed Red Bryant’s blocked field goal that Sherman returned 90 yards Sunday night in a lopsided win over San Francisco (third-longest such return in league history).
Although Sherman, a Defensive Player of the Year candidate, failed to get a Pro Bowl nod, the snub didn’t seem to rankle him. But it called into question the process by which players are selected, through fan, coach and player voting. Certainly that process is flawed and the NFL is responsible.
Sherman reportedly finished third in the fan vote and should have been an easy Pro Bowl choice by players and coaches. But someone leaked the results of his “failed” drug test to ESPN, which reported the news, which deterred coaches and players from voting for Sherman even though his appeal hadn’t been heard.
That’s hardly the only reason the Pro Bowl selection process doesn’t work.
Five Seahawks – C Max Unger, OT Russell Okung, RB Marshawn Lynch, S Earl Thomas and KR Leon Washington – made the NFC Pro Bowl team. The Seahawks are 10-5 and still have an outside shot at the NFC West title.
Now consider: The Kansas City Chiefs are 2-13, and they have as many Pro Bowl players as the Seahawks. The Chiefs also have as many as the Denver Broncos, the consensus No. 1 team in NFL power rankings regardless of conference or team.
Worse, three starters from the Chiefs defense — OLB Tamba Hali, ILB Derrick Johnson and S Eric Berry – are Pro Bowlers. If you’ve kept track, you know that the Chiefs’ defense ranks 25th in the league in points allowed. The Seahawks have one Pro Bowler (Thomas) from a defense that ranks first in the same category.
Sherman should have made the NFC Pro Bowl squad, but was left off the team for a potential suspension that didn’t pan out.
Sherman was correct when he said that playing in the Pro Bowl “doesn’t matter.” The Pro Bowl itself has long been a sham of a competition, held mainly as an excuse for the NFL to throw luaus for its biggest sponsors.
But becoming a “Pro Bowl player,” or all-star, is important. Pro Bowl designations are critical in assessing Hall of Fame candidacies, especially among players without abundant statistics (offensive linemen, for example). Given that, what should happen?