I've watched countless preseason games over the years. In fact, I haven't missed a single Week 1-3 exhibition contest in more than six seasons. Despite this, I've never seen the Pro Bowl. Not one second of it.
The Pro Bowl is just so meaningless, and unlike the preseason, you can't learn anything from it. The players seldom try hard because they don't care who wins, so why even bother tuning in?
Roger Goodell recently discussed canceling the Pro Bowl. I wouldn't be against that, but I still think Pro Bowl rosters should be announced. Perhaps those who qualify would get a free trip to Hawaii or something.
I've been asked many times over the years to post whom I wanted to see in the Pro Bowl, given that I make a habit of criticizing the voters for sending undeserving players to this game and leaving better ones out of it. So, here are the my 2013 NFL Pro Bowl votes (players listed alphabetically by position):
AFC Quarterbacks: Tom Brady, Patriots; Peyton Manning, Broncos; Matt Schaub, Texans
The first two are obvious. It was close between Matt Schaub and Ben Roethlisberger, but the former has been healthy all year. Schaub is on pace to throw for 4,000 yards and nearly 30 touchdowns for an 11-1 Houston squad - and those numbers would be much better if his defense wasn't so good.
NFC Quarterbacks: Robert Griffin, Redskins; Aaron Rodgers, Packers; Matt Ryan, Falcons
I had to vote in Robert Griffin. He's been amazing as a rookie. If he had any sort of supporting cast, the Redskins would be 8-4 or 9-3 right now. Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan are obvious choices.
AFC Running Backs: Arian Foster, Texans; Ray Rice, Ravens; C.J. Spiller, Bills
Arian Foster has a whopping 15 touchdowns as of this writing, though his 3.9 YPC makes me hesitate a bit. Ray Rice leads the AFC in rushing despite Cam Cameron's incompetence. Plus, there was that 4th-and-28.5 play. C.J. Spiller is averaging 6.6 YPC. That's insane. Why doesn't he get the ball more?
I'm not being very creative here in choosing the NFC's three leading rushers, but they are the most deserving.
AFC Wide Receivers: A.J. Green, Bengals; Andre Johnson, Texans; Demaryius Thomas, Broncos; Reggie Wayne, Colts
A.J. Green and Andre Johnson were no-brainers. Demaryius Thomas is having a terrific season with Peyton Manning. Meanwhile, Manning's old No. 1 wideout has enjoyed a tremendous rebound season with a rookie signal-caller. His performance in the #Chuckstrong victory over the Packers was unreal.
My first selection may surprise you because Dez Bryant has played like a complete moron at times this year. However, it appears as though he's gotten his act together. He's been unstoppable recently. Vincent Jackson proved me wrong; I thought he was overpaid this past spring. The other two wideouts are studs.
AFC Fullback: Vonta Leach, Ravens
It sucks that there aren't two votes because I'd love to put Marcel Reece here, but Vonta Leach is the best blocking fullback in the NFL.
NFC Fullback: Henry Hynoski, Giants
Henry Hynoski gets the slight nod over Jerome Felton. Both are tremendous blockers, but the former has been more consistent.
AFC Tight Ends: Rob Gronkowski, Patriots; Heath Miller, Steelers
Rob Gronkowski still leads the AFC in receiving yardage for tight ends despite missing time. Ben Roethlisberger said it was his goal to get Heath Miller into the Pro Bowl.
NFC Tight Ends: Tony Gonzalez, Falcons; Jason Witten, Cowboys
One last Pro Bowl for the future Hall of Famer. Jason Witten's a no-brainer.
AFC Offensive Tackles: Duane Brown, Texans; Ryan Clady, Broncos; D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Jets
Duane Brown and Ryan Clady have each surrendered only one sack this year. D'Brickashaw Ferguson, meanwhile, hasn't even allowed one.
NFC Offensive Tackles: Matt Kalil, Vikings; Joe Staley, 49ers; Trent Williams, Redskins
I didn't want to vote Matt Kalil in, but there just aren't any great NFC tackles, save for Joe Staley (tremendous run-blocker for Frank Gore) and Trent Williams (three sacks).
AFC Guards: Clint Boling, Bengals; Andy Levitre, Bills; Marshal Yanda, Ravens
All three of these guys are big reasons why their running backs are having great seasons. Even BenJarvus Green-Ellis has been relatively solid lately.
It's funny that these guards are my picks considering the New Orleans, Philadelphia and Green Bay offensive lines all have sucked this year. But these guys have enjoyed phenomenal seasons.
AFC Centers: Nick Mangold, Jets; Mike Pouncey, Dolphins
Nick Mangold is still the top center in the NFL. Mike Pouncey has been tremendous in his second season with the Dolphins.
NFC Centers: Will Montgomery, Redskins; John Sullivan, Vikings
Alfred Morris and Adrian Peterson should buy these two guys fancy watches to thank them for their great 2012 campaigns.
AFC Defensive Ends: Cameron Wake, Dolphins; J.J. Watt, Texans; Mario Williams, Bills
The first two are obvious choices. The third was a tough one. I ultimately picked Mario Williams despite his miserable start to the season. It turns out that all Williams needed was wrist surgery because he's been great ever since undergoing that procedure.
NFC Defensive Ends: Charles Johnson, Panthers; Chris Long, Rams; Jason Pierre-Paul, Giants
Charles Johnson has 8.5 sacks and six forced fumbles. Chris Long is both a force in terms of getting to the quarterback and stuffing the run. And despite Cris Carter stupidly calling him out, Jason Pierre-Paul has been awesome all season. He has just 6.5 sacks, but he could easily have double that amount because he's gotten lots of pressure on opposing signal-callers.
AFC Defensive Tackles: Geno Atkins, Bengals; Muhammad Wilkerson, Jets; Kyle Williams, Bills
Geno Atkins is a beast. Muhammad Wilkerson has been a stud on the Jets' defensive front. Kyle Williams is enjoying a nice comeback season after being hurt in 2011.
Want to know why the Buccaneers have the top run defense in the NFL? It's Gerald McCoy, who has been better than Ndamukong Suh this year. Henry Melton gets tons of pressure on the quarterback. Justin Smith has been great yet again.
AFC Inside Linebackers: Derrick Johnson, Chiefs; Lawrence Timmons, Steelers
Derrick Johnson has been one of the few positive things about Kansas City's defense this year. Lawrence Timmons never gets the respect he deserves.
NFC Inside Linebackers: Daryl Washington, Cardinals; Patrick Willis, 49ers
This was pretty easy for me; no one else is close.
AFC Outside Linebackers: Justin Houston, Chiefs; Von Miller, Broncos; Philip Wheeler, Raiders
Justin Houston (10 sacks) has been better than Tamba Hali this year. Von Miller is a Defensive Player of the Year candidate. I wanted to include one traditional 4-3 outside linebacker, so that would be Philip Wheeler, who has been a rare bright spot for Oakland this season.
Lavonte David is the NFC's 4-3 outside linebacker. He has been terrific despite being a rookie. Aldon Smith and DeMarcus Ware need no introduction.
AFC Cornerbacks: Champ Bailey, Broncos; Antonio Cromartie, Jets; Joe Haden, Browns (write-in)
Champ Bailey, duh. Antonio Cromartie has effectively replaced Darrelle Revis as the Jets' shutdown corner. Joe Haden is not on the ballot because players who were suspended are ineligible for some reason.
NFC Cornerbacks: Tim Jennings, Bears; Richard Sherman, Seahawks; Charles Tillman, Bears
All of the great cornerbacks are in the NFC. I'd love to add Casey Hayward, Brandon Browner and Antoine Winfield, but there are only three votes available for NFC corners.
AFC Strong Safety: T.J. Ward, Browns
Why can't we vote for two safeties instead of one free safety and one strong safety? It's stupid. Otherwise, I'd vote for Redhad Jones and Eric Weddle.
NFC Strong Safety: William Moore, Falcons
Same goes for the NFC safeties. My choices would be Kerry Rhodes and Dashon Goldson.
AFC Free Safety: Reshad Jones, Dolphins
It's close between the two AFC safeties I just mentioned, but Reshad Jones has been slightly better.
NFC Free Safety: Kerry Rhodes, Cardinals
Again, it was a close call. I have Kerry Rhodes by a slim margin.
AFC Kicker: Phil Dawson, Browns
Phil Dawson would be a perfect 24-of-24 if one of his attempts wasn't blocked.
NFC Kicker: Robbie Gould, Bears
Robbie Gould is as dependable as they come. He's 21-of-25 despite playing outdoors and having two kicks blocked.
AFC Punter: Brandon Fields, Dolphins
I don't really care about punters. I'm just picking the guys with the highest average. Brandon Fields' 50.6 looks nice.
NFC Punter: Andy Lee, 49ers
Andy Lee is fourth in average, but 30 punts inside the 20 is impressive.
AFC Punter: Matt Slater, Patriots
A key member of New England's special-teams unit.
NFC Punter: Heath Farwell, Seahawks
Heath Farwell has been a great special-teamer for a long time.