AJ Green makes phenomenal catches. - Peter Aiken
While we're a blog that normally doesn't pay much attention to the National Football League, we here at Dawg Sports are always interested in keeping up with former Dawgs who have gone on to play in The League. The Pro Bowl rosters for 2013 were just announced yesterday, and five players who matriculated in Athens were named to the first team.
The Pro Bowl itself is really largely ignored when it comes to interest from fans. The game is purely an exhibition game and has no effect on home field advantage in the Super Bowl (played at a neutral site) as the All-Star game does in Major League Baseball. Years ago, when such luxuries as NFL Sunday Ticket, NFL Redzone, Sunday Night Football, Monday Night Football, Thursday Night Football, and national coverage on NFL Network and ESPN weren't available, many people watched the game for the chance to see their favorite players line it up against the rest of the league's best...especially when they might've only gotten to see the other marquee players once or twice all season, if at all. Now that we have numerous options for watching multiple NFL games over a weekend, the need to tune in to see the rare matchup of world-beating receiver vs. shutdown corner just isn't necessary. On top of all that, given that the game takes place a week before the Super Bowl, any players who are playing for a world championship the next week will assuredly pull out of the game to avoid injury, so reserves will inevitably replace a few folks here and there.The bigger piece to the whole affair now is simply being voted TO the Pro Bowl...it's used as a measuring stick for the player, and a way to define that a player was one of the best of their generation, especially if they made multiple Pro Bowls. Essentially, it's a resume padder.
The Bulldog players in the NFL who padded their resumes were more successful individually in the AFC than in the NFC, with three of the five honorees coming from teams American Football Conference. From the Denver Broncos, Champ Bailey was named a Pro Bowler for the twelfth time and cementing himself as one of the best cornerbacks of the past several decades, and one of the most honored Bulldogs to play in the NFL since Fran Tarkenton. From the Cincinnati Bengals, teammates AJ Green and Geno Atkins both made their second Pro Bowl, respectively, each in just their second year in the league.
From the NFC, another Bulldog cornerback was named an All-Pro, with Tim Jennings, of the Chicago Bears, making the first Pro Bowl of his career. From Jennings's NFC North rival Minnesota Vikings came rookie kicker Blair Walsh, who also made his first pro bowl in his first year in the league.
There's still a chance that another Georgia alum could make the game, with Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions being named to the first alternate squad for the NFC. All three of the quarterbacks ahead of him (Matt Ryan of the Falcons, Aaron Rodgers of the Packers, and Robert Griffin III of the Redskins) have a chance at being in the Super Bowl, so if one of them makes the big game, look for Stafford to be added to the roster.
A college team placing five players in the game is pretty good. I haven't looked at the rosters extensively from a college standpoint, but the only SEC team that I see off the top of my head who had more players named to the game is Tennessee, with six (Peyton Manning, Arian Foster, Jason Witten, Jerod Mayo, Eric Berry, and Dustin Colquitt).
If you have nothing else going on here in a few weeks, tune in to see how our boys perform in the game.
Oh, and, as always, Go Dawgs!