This weekend features the biggest non event of the football year; the Pro Bowl. All Star games are not a feature of major British sports leagues so on paper the idea of getting to see the best players in the league match up sounds exciting. Of course, the game itself resembles nothing of the sort and I definitely won’t be staying up past midnight to watch Team Irvin take on Team Rice. The players too are becoming disinterested. This year’s Pro Bowl boasts the most declined invitations in it’s history. Some are down to injury or preparing for the Super Bowl, but a record number simply were not interested in heading to Hawaii to participate in a diluted football game.
However, if you look at it another way, being voted to the Pro-Bowl roster is a still a sought after accolade for players, considering that this identifies them in the top 5% of active players. The fact it is voted for by fellow players, coaches and fans (since 1990) means the recognition is valuable though the game itself is not. Brandon Marshall, who declined his invitation this year due to injury, stated that he was “tired of the Pro Bowl” but clarified that he still appreciated the votes. With that in mind, here are some facts and stats about Jets who have been voted to the Pro Bowl to mull over on a weekend without any real football.
- The only Jets who will actually take the field this year are Nick Mangold and Chris Ivory, both invited as alternates. Mo Wilkerson and Darrelle Revis plus Marshall were all voted to the original roster, but injury (some more dubious than others) has precluded their attendance. This was the first year for Wilkerson, the sixth for Marshall (first as a Jet) and seventh for Revis. None of these selections can be argued with but Ivory’s initial snub raised a few eyebrows considering he rushed for the fifth most yards in the league. He told the media that he believed he deserved to make the trip after being only selected as first alternate.
- Tackle Winston Hill is the Jet with the all-time most Pro Bowl selections; eight between 1964 and 1973. Interestingly, he was never voted to the first team All Pro. In fact, offensive linemen are the most well represented group in Jets’ pro Bowl history. Centers Nick Mangold and Kevin Mawae were voted to the first team six times followed by tackle Marvin Powell with five consecutive appearances between 1979 – 1983.
- Three other players have five Pro Bowl nods; Joe Namath and Larry Grantham in the 1960/70s and Mark Gastineau in the 1980s. Grantham also made first team All Pro five times, the most of any Jet.
- Although skewed by the fact Super Bowl bound teams cannot be represented in the Pro Bowl, there is an obvious correlation between team performance and number of Pro Bowl selections. The most from any single team is 13 from the 2007-08 Dallas Cowboys in the year they made the divisional round of the playoffs. When you map out the ups and downs of Jet’s history and their Pro Bowl appearances, the two follow a very similar line. In the 1960s the timing of All Star game did not affect the Super Bowl so it won’t come as much of a surprise that 1968 and 1969 saw the most Jets Pro Bowlers (12). Then in 1970, just like the team’s performance as a whole, there was a distinct drop off to only two players selected. 1981, 82 and 85, where the Jets made the playoffs, saw 6-7 Pro Bowl nods each year. Similarly, in the dark days of the mid nineties, no Jets appeared in the 1995 or 1996 Pro Bowls, mirroring their terrible season records.
- No Jets player has come close to the record 15 appearances of Peyton Manning, Tony Gonzalez’s 14 or Jerry Rice’s 13; players who appeared nearly every year of their lengthy careers. All of the top twenty Pro Bowlers in terms of number of appearance are either enshrined in the Hall of Fame or are not yet eligible. However, while the number of Pro Bowls (especially compared to career length) is a good indicator of a future Hall of Famer, it’s not the only one. Curtis Martin, with 10 consecutive 1000 yard seasons, was voted into the Pro Bowl five times (3 as a Jet) in his 11 season career, making All Pro only once.
It’s fair the say that the Jets have not, apart from a few years, set the Pro Bowl world on fire and sadly this is not because they were too busy with the Super Bowl. However, looking at the current roster there are a number of candidates who have the potential to become or have already been recognised as one of the best at their position. There may be a few more Jets faces in Pro Bowl uniforms in coming years if Mike Maccagnan continues to develop this roster well. However, I’d rather see declined invitations… on the grounds of making a Super Bowl appearance.
Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com