By Bill Foley
The NFL Pro Bowl selections were announced this week.
Right on cue, the crying began. Players, fans and media members began whining that they, their teammates, their favorite players or the players they cover didn’t get the nod to play in the most boring game of the year.
The Oakland Raiders were completely shutout of the Pro Bowl for only the second time, and you just know multiple people are going to get stabbed over that.
It is, after all, a well-known fact that 93.8 percent of Raiders fans have or will be convicted of a felony. I assume.
The thing is, nobody cares about playing the Pro Bowl. Nobody cares about watching the Pro Bowl. Only the lowest of the degenerate gamblers bet on the Pro Bowl.
In two weeks, you’ll forget that there is such a thing as the Pro Bowl.
Players only care about the selections because they get a bonus in their check.
Unlike Major League Baseball’s All-Star game, there really is no compelling reason to even be remotely interested in the game. Who won? More importantly, who cares?
There’s probably a golf tournament to watch instead.
Indianapolis Colts rookie linebacker Darius Leonard cares, however. So does his teammate Eric Ebron. The tight end is upset that Leonard was snubbed by the voters.
“Things like (the Pro Bowl) should really go by statistics rather than names,” Ebron said of Leonard. “He’s one of the all-time great rookie linebackers statistically in a long time.”
Leonard leads the NFL in total tackles, a statistic that is highly overrated. A tackle is almost always the product of a collective effort. Linebackers tend to get a lot of them because defensive linemen do the dirty work of taking on double and triple teams in front of them.
But you don’t hear nasty Chicago Bears defensive lineman Eddie Goldman whining about being snubbed by Pro Bowl voters.
How will Leonard respond to this atrocity? Well, he’s going to make the New York Giants pay this weekend.
“He told me he wanted 40 tackles, but I told him it’s humanly impossible,” Ebron said.
Ebron, a graduate of the University of North Carolina, clearly wasn’t a math major. It is possible to register 40 tackles in a game. Oh, it is highly improbable, but is possible.
In last week’s shutout victory over the Cowboys, the Colts combined for 58 total tackles. Leonard made 11 of those to lead the team. That means there were 47 chances where Leonard completely let his team down, if you go solely by statics.
With a little extra effort, he could make a run for 40. I’m pretty sure Craig LeCoure averaged 40 tackles per game when he played linebacker at Montana Western.
If he even gets 20 this week, Leonard will probably end up playing in the Pro Bowl if he wants. Even if he gets two, he’ll probably go. Eventually, everyone gets invited to play in the Pro Bowl, so the little tantrum will prove to be completely unnecessary.
Players only want to go when the game is in Hawaii. Now that the Pro Bowl is in Orlando for the second straight year, the league will have to stoop low enough to pick players from the Raiders and Cardinals just to fill the rosters.
Players from the Super Bowl teams no longer play in the Pro Bowl because the all-star game is now played the week before the Super Bowl. That will open up 12 Pro Bowl sports from the Bears and Chargers.
Once their teams are eliminated from contention, a ton of other players selected will announce they are backing out of the game. They still get credit for being a Pro Bowl player, only they don’t have to play.
So, eventually, 94 percent of the players who want to play in the game get to play. I’m pretty sure I was technically a Pro Bowl linebacker one year, and I haven’t even played football since I was a freshman in high school.
And I wasn’t a linebacker.
When it is all said and done, the nobody cares about the Pro Bowl. The selections to the joke of a game only lead to a week of All-Pro whining.
Then we forget all about it.
Speaking of forgetting, I wouldn’t mind wiping away some of last week’s picks from memory. I went 9-7 straight up, inching my record to 139-85 on the season.
Against the spread, I posted a weak 8-8 mark, and I’m still looking up at the .500 mark at 109-113-2.
I’m getting killed by Betty in accounting, and she picks teams based on their colors.
Following are my Week 16 picks. The lines are from ESPN, the Pro Bowl network.
Washington (plus 10) at Tennessee
You can’t stop Josh Johnson. You can only hope to contain him.
Titans by just 3
Baltimore (plus 4.5) at Los Angeles Chargers
In case you haven’t noticed, and judging by the attendance you haven’t, the Chargers are the best team in LA. And probably the AFC.
Chargers by 9
Chicago (minus 4) at San Francisco
The Germans meddled in our sacred Pro Bowl voting to elect 49ers linebacker Mark Nzeocha over poor old Darius Leonard.
First, the Germans bomb Pear Harbor, and now this? The Monsters of the Midway win one for ’Merica.
Bears by 14
Cincinnati (plus 9) at Cleveland
The Browns are almost a double-digit favorite. As crazy as that sounds, they’re going to cover.
Browns by 12
Tampa Bay (no line) at Dallas
It sure has been nice to have a week of peace and quiet after Darius Leonard and the Colts pantsed the Cowboys last week.
Unfortunately, you just cant get rid of Cowboys fans.
Cowboys by 8
Minnesota (minus 5.5) at Detroit
The Vikings are playing for a playoff spot. The Lions have mailed it in weeks ago.
Vikings by 16
New York Giants (plus 9.5) at Indianapolis
Darius Leonard is mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.
Colts by 10
Jacksonville (plus 4) at Miami
The Dolphins are 6-1 at home and 1-6 on the road. The Jaguars, on the other hand, are much more consistent. They stink at home and on the road.
Dolphins by 8
Buffalo (plus 13) at New England
With back-to-back December losses, expect the real Patriots to stand up.
Yep, they’re going to cheat.
Patriots by 11
Green Bay (minus 2.5) at New York Jets
Nothing puts the Christmas spirit into my heart like seeing Aaron Rodgers play in a meaningless game in December.
Packers by 6
Houston (plus 2.5) at Philadelphia
I told you all the Eagles need was a dose of Foles to revive their playoff hopes.
Eagles by 5
Atlanta (minus 3) at Carolina
The Panthers are shutting down Cam Newton because of his sore shoulder. In his place, Carolina will start Taylor Heinicke, a third-year player from Old Dominion.
This is either a script to a bad movie or a reason to not watch this game. Go with the latter.
Falcons by 7
Los Angeles Rams (no line) at Arizona
The Rams are reeling, and now Todd Gurley II has a bum knee. If they were playing an actual NFL team, that might be reason for concern.
Rams by 38
Pittsburgh (plus 6) at New Orleans
Former Montana Tech football player and Kennedy Elementary schoolyard bully Chris Opie said he will beat me up if I don’t pick his Steelers.
I believe him.
Steelers by 1
Kansas City (minus 2) at Seattle
The Seahawks couldn’t handle young Nick Mullens and the 49ers last week. You think they have a shot against Wonder Boy Patrick Mahomes?
Chefs by 10
Denver (minus 2.5) at Oakland
How can you pick against the Raiders on Christmas Eve?
Raiders by 2