Friday, December 22, 2006

Three Who Should Be in Hawaii

Every year it happens.

With only so many votes to go around from players, coaches and fans - someone will get screwed and not be picked to go to Hawaii for the annual NFL Pro Bowl festivities.

This goes down in all sports, not just football. Someone gets in and you scratch your head and go how? On the flip side, a player you thought was a can't miss misses and it leads to the same kind of head scratching.

The 2006 Pro Bowl teams have been selected and displayed in a nice, pretty package for fans and the media, except there were three omissions that made the presentation a little ugly in my mind.

Despite an overall accurate and fair representation from both conferences, the three in question should have been on the list and without them, the teams aren't as strong as they could be.

All is not lost though. The NFL and its fans are wising up. For instance, Michael Vick was finally left off a Pro Bowl roster that he never really belonged on in the past either. Some selections were shaky but I can live with it - like Tony Romo being selected a pro bowler after starting only eight or so games. However, the three that were left off is inexcusable, as the facts will soon make clear.

In no particular order here are the three players who were screwed out a Pro Bowl berth hat they so rightly deserved.

1. Leonard Little, DE, St. Louis Rams - What does the man have to do to earn a Pro Bowl invite? He's only one of the best defensive ends of his generation. He's the second all-time sack leader in Rams history with 74. This season he has been amazing on a really bad defense. Little has 12 sacks (second in the NFC), 50 tackles and eight forced fumbles. Compare his stats to New Orleans DE Will Smith, who made the pro bowl. Smith has 47 tackles, 10/5 sacks and two forced fumbles. Little wasn't picked because St. Louis is a bad team this year and his past (vehicular manslaughter in 1998). He should have been on the list.

2. Warren Sapp, DT, Oakland Raiders - Another player who wasn't picked because his team sucks. Sapp bounced back big time in 2006 and just may be the comeback player of the year. Sapp has recorded 39 tackles and eight sacks, more than any defensive tackle in the league. He has been a dominating force in the interior for the Raiders. Pittsburgh's Casey Hampton, who is going to the Pro Bowl, has zero, I said ZERO sacks and 32 tackles. Sapp deserved to go.

3. Brian Westbrook, RB, Philadelphia Eagles - I like Tiki Barber, I reall do. He's a great back with loads of talent, but the Pro Bowl selection belonged to Westbrook. Frank Gore and Steven Jackson were the obvious 1-2 selections and here's why Westbrook belongs as number three. Barber has out-rushed Westbrook by a 1,357-1,092 margin, but he's done that with 75 more carries. Westbrook wins hands down when it comes to all-purpose. He has 74 catches to Barber's 52 and Westbrook has score 11 TDs to Tiki's 2 TDs. Tiki is a great back, but Westbrook deserved to go to Honolulu.

Note: I could have put Kerry Rhodes of the New York Jets in here as well. The safety has 91 tackles, four interceptions and four sacks, but he was left off the team. He didn't make my list because I wanted just the top three and I felt the others rated ahead of Rhodes.

Green Bay 9, Minnesota 7
In what may have been Brett Favre's final game at Lambeau Field, he went out a winner.

Favre threw an interception for a touchdown in the third quarter, then rallied the Packers for a late field goal and a 9-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday night.

Packers kicker Dave Rayner, who had missed two field goals earlier in the game, hit a 44-yarder with 1:34 remaining for the game-winner.

It was the 36th game-winning comeback for Favre, who has not yet announced whether he will play next season and did not speak with reporters following the game.

He held the ball aloft after the final gun, and hugged a couple of former teammates now with the Vikings, safety Darren Sharper and kicker Ryan Longwell. He also saluted his family in a Lambeau skybox, along with the fans surrounding the tunnel to the locker room.

The Vikings (6-9) managed only three first downs all game, the lowest total in a game in team history. The Packers (7-8) stayed mathematically alive for a playoff berth.

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