Sports Outside the Beltway

Pro Bowl Honors Overrated

A Todd Archer Dallas Cowboys training camp preview contained a line that brought to mind one of my pet peeves: “[Center Andre] Gurode broke through last year, earning a Pro Bowl spot.”

Now, it’s true that Gurode broke through last year and that he went to the Pro Bowl. Whether he “earned” it is an open question. The problem is that nowadays going to the Pro Bowl is a lot less prestigious than it once was and players, especially those who have been before, often come up with any excuse to get out of it. As a consequence, a good chuck of the roster is filled with second and third alternates. Gurode was such a case: He wasn’t on the Pro Bowl roster when it was announced or for several weeks thereafter; he was a last minute replacement.

Another problem with the game is that, especially for positions where no statistical measure of performance exists, the same guys tend to go year after year even when they’re long past their prime. Future Hall of Famer Larry Allen will be named to the Pro Bowl every year until he retires, even though his days of greatness ended years ago. Ditto current Cowboy Flozell Adams, who can barely stay healthy.

It may just be time to call the whole thing off. Name a Pro Bowl and an All-Pro roster at the end of the season — or, better yet, after the Super Bowl — to create some buzz and to anoint the year’s best players. But let’s not have the game, which most of us have long since stopped watching. That way, the fifth alternate center doesn’t get to claim that he was a “Pro Bowl” player.

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