Thursday, December 18, 2008

On the NFL: 'Tis the Season to Snub

The great philosopher Cosmo Kramer once opined that women "love the snub."

Football players are a little different, however, especially when it comes to the Pro Bowl. The game might not mean all that much, but getting selected to play in it is a badge of honor in the NFL.

Getting snubbed, on the other hand, is tough to take and a handful of players get passed over each and every year, often when reputation trumps production or the power of a marquee franchise takes over.

Of course, "the snub" is all relative and I look at it a lot differently than most observers.

For instance, it seems Falcons defensive end John Abraham is at the top of everyone's overlooked list and he is unquestionably having a Pro Bowl-type season; in my mind, though, Abraham wasn't snubbed.

In case you didn't notice, only three defensive ends can be picked in each conference and the pass rushers punching a ticket to Hawaii in front of Abraham are Justin Tuck, Julius Peppers and Jared Allen. You really want to argue that those three don't belong?

The true snubs are when less deserving players are taken.

At the top of the list is the biggest name of them all -- Brett Favre. The constant slurping from Joe Buck and John Madden can seep into a voter's brain -- be it fans, players or coaches -- and a quarterback like Philip Rivers, who leads the AFC in passer rating and touchdown passes, ends up sitting at home, while Favre basks in a little more undeserved adulation.

As ludicrous as it is that Favre is on the AFC's team instead of Rivers, how did the league's favorite narcissist get the nod over the signal-caller he replaced in New York -- Chad Pennington?

It's an easy comparison. The Jets and Pennington's Dolphins are both 9-5, but Pennington has a better passer rating (95.1 to 86.5) than Lord Favre, fewer interceptions (six to Favre's league-leading 17) and more passing yards (3,218 to 3,052). They both have turned around teams, but Pennington is rebuilding a club that went 1-15 last season.

Where else did the voters get it wrong?

How about running back in the NFC?

Granted, Adrian Peterson and Michael Turner are no-brainers, but the third NFC back -- Washington's Clinton Portis -- has faltered down the stretch; meanwhile, Carolina's DeAngelo Williams has 1,229 rushing yards, leads the league at 5.5 yards per carry and tops the NFC with 14 rushing TDs for an 11-3 team that just might steal home-field advantage away from the New York Giants..

It's not always about reputation. Sometimes the logo on the side of the helmet propels one or two undeserving players into the game. At defensive tackle in the NFC, Jay Ratliff, a part-time, slightly above-average player for Dallas, got a spot in the game over Chicago's best defensive player -- Tommie Harris.

Of course, the Bears can't complain too much. The overrated Lance Briggs "earned" another trip to Honolulu ahead of a number of more deserving all-around candidates, including Minnesota's Chad Greenway and Ben Leber.

'Tis truly is the season to snub.

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