Sherman was the most obvious snub as the NFL announced the annual AFC and NFC Pro Bowl teams. While Sherman's positive test for a performance enhancing drug undoubtedly weighed on his failure to get selected by the three-pronged process of fan, player and coach balloting, there is one overriding issue when considering his case.
Sherman was better than everybody in the league at his position. And it wasn't close, according to some.
"I know we didn't vote for him and the only reason was the [PEDs]," a receivers coach from an NFC team said Wednesday evening. "I know he's appealing, but you don't want to send the wrong message.
"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 with seven interceptions (tied for second in the league), three forced fumbles and one touchdown. The score came after a blocked field goal that he returned Sunday night in a lopsided win over San Francisco.
More importantly, Sherman is part of a Seahawks defense that has been the foundation of what appears to be a serious playoff contender.
With that in mind, here's a list of the five players who were snubbed and the five who shouldn't have made it:
1. CB Richard Sherman, Seahawks – His rise from being a fifth-round pick out of Stanford to one of the best defensive backs in the league after only two years is a remarkable story in talent, intelligence and desire. Sherman had to transform himself after a knee injury in college robbed him of his speed (he was a California triple jump champion in high school and made the finals in the 100-meter sprint, the 110 hurdles and the long jump). He also changed position from wide receiver to cornerback.
2. LB Daryl Washington, Arizona Cardinals – While a strong case can be made for Green Bay Packers Pro Bowler Clay Matthews, who has 12 sacks, Washington "put up his numbers [nine sacks, one interception and two forced fumbles] on a bad team that practically never had the lead," observed an NFC coach.
3. Center Mike Pouncey, Miami Dolphins – Although his exclusion was a breakdown of the voting between coaches, players and fans, it's obvious that the popularity of Pittsburgh (Pouncey's twin brother Maurkice was named the starter) and the success of Houston (Chris Myers was named the backup) overwhelmed the outstanding play of the Dolphins' 2011 first-round pick. Five assistant coaches said earlier this season that Mike was not only the best center in the AFC this season, but probably the best in the league.
Vincent Jackson (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Dez Bryant (Dallas Cowboys) and Roddy White (Atlanta Falcons) – If the league would get rid of the stupid fullback spot (more on that later), then there would be more room for the league's most important position behind quarterback. Jackson, (who has come on strong down the stretch) and White all have more than 1,300 yards and have been vital to whatever level of success their teams have had. Then again, this is a crowded position.4 (tie). WRs
7. QB Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts – While Luck is likely to finish third in the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year balloting, he deserved better when it came to Pro Bowl voting. Sure, his stats don't measure up to the Houston Texans' Matt Schaub, who made it behind Peyton Manning and Tom Brady for the AFC team, but Luck was asked to do far more in the grand scheme of a season than Schaub. Houston's signal caller was surrounded by a better running game, better offensive line, more experienced receivers overall and a better defense.
1. Center Jeff Saturday, Green Bay Packers – A great guy, a great leader and, for a long time, a great player. But he's not a great player anymore. In fact, the 37-year-old Saturday isn't even the best center on the Packers, having been benched recently. Saturday took the demotion like a true pro and shouldn't be begrudged for presumably this last trip to Hawaii. But he doesn't deserve the nod, not when guys like John Sullivan of Minnesota get overlooked. In fact, the entire Vikings offensive line got overlooked.
2 (tie). FBs Vonta Leach (Baltimore Ravens), Jerome Felton (Minnesota Vikings) – Look, no offense to Leach and Felton, a couple of guys who are just doing their jobs. However, fullback is about as useful in today's NFL as an appendix. Yeah, there are some occasional short-yardage plays and power-running schemes, but most teams rarely use a true fullback and, if they do, it's not much more than about 30 percent of the time. This is the era of three-, four- and five-wide receiver sets. Fullbacks are little more than window dressing.
4. FS Ed Reed, Ravens – You could actually make a good case for the entire AFC safety spot (LaRon Landry was just OK and Eric Berry was all right, but how the heck did three Kansas City defensive players make the AFC roster?). Reed, like Saturday, symbolizes what happens when a guy makes several Pro Bowls. All of a sudden, he makes one or two when his ability has started to fade. Reed is still a fine player and a future Hall of Famer. But there are plenty of better free safeties in the AFC, starting with the San Diego Chargers' Eric Weddle.
5. QB Matt Schaub, Texans – Schaub is a nice player, an example of the type of quarterback you can win with when everything else around him is very good, if not excellent. The problem is that Schaub has been exposed in games when called upon to be the focus of the offense, such as during defeats to the Packers, Patriots and Vikings. He's your prototype, mistake-free quarterback who stays out of the way. That, however, doesn't exactly scream Pro Bowl. Sadly, the depth in the AFC this year isn't very strong, although Luck deserved it more than Schaub.
6. Punter Dustin Colquitt, Kansas City Chiefs – Huh? Somebody please explain this selection to me. Colquitt wasn't just a below average punter in the AFC (he was ninth in gross average and 10th in net average in the conference), he may not have been the best punter in his family. Denver's Britton Colquitt had a better net average. Suffice to say, Miami's Brandon Fields averaged 50.3 yards per punt, almost two yards per punt better than the next and Jacksonville's Bryan Anger had a higher net average. There was also a good debate to be made in the NFC, where San Francisco's Andy Lee was left off. That said, Thomas Morstead of New Orleans had a great year.
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