The 2011 Pro Bowl features a lot of familiar faces. There is the usual Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Adrian Peterson, Julius Peppers, and Drew Brees. There are new faces like Arian Foster, Jamaal Charles and DeSean Jackson. There is also the comeback story of Michael Vick. Naturally, there are snubs and some picks that raise eyebrows.
Why does this happen? For one, there is fan voting. This makes it a popularity contest. The players also vote and so do the coaches. There are a lot of players in the league and you don't play every team, so you don't see everyone up close. You have to rely on film and talk. Because teams spend time watching film of teams and players they are actually going to have to play, the votes are left to what you hear about players -- their reputation.
Let's look at it here in Arizona. Adrian Wilson is a Pro Bowl starter. His stat line is solid. He has 115 tackles, two interceptions, two sacks and a blocked field goal. But we all in the AZ know the whole story. He has been a shell of himself. He is getting caught out of position and torched in coverage. He is a step slow on the blitz.
He was shocked about his selection, thinking it was a joke when his coach told him. He was snubbed other times, though, earlier in his career when he was deserving of the trip to Hawaii. Here is what Wilson said:
"To be honest, I am very shocked. Someone told me, ‘You always go in a year later than you're supposed to go, and you always get that one last one when you don't really deserve it.' I hope this isn't my last one and I understand that this hasn't been one of my greatest years."
Kerry Rhodes, on the other hand, had a great year, but is not even an alternate. Former Arizona Cardinal Antrel Rolle did make it and he has not had a great year with the Giants.
Wilson, over his career, has built up a reputation as a tough player, one who makes big plays. This would explain his being selected. If you look at Rhodes, he was somewhat of a pariah when he was part of the Jets last year. His toughness was questioned and he was considered more "Hollywood" than anything else. He played well this year, but that perception likely has not changed.
Rolle has the reputation of being a big play guy. He is tough and a hard worker. And he plays in the biggest market in the league.
Darrelle Revis is another case of reputation. He is perhaps the best cover corner in the league. He is his own "island," but this year has suffered through a hamstring injury. He does not have a single interception this year. He has made only 32 tackles and only defensed 10 passes (31 a year ago). His numbers this season just don't justify his being a Pro Bowler. His reputation does, though.
Perhaps there is no answer to this. When any type of voting happens, people get in who should not and players get snubbed who should get the trip to Hawaii. It's probably just a fact we have to accept.
For the Arizona Cardinals, it means that Rhodes and other deserving players like kicker Jay Feely and returner LaRod Stephens-Howling can expect to be considered a year from now if they can replicate the success they have had this year.