In honor of the Pro Bowl, where we saw numerous dropouts due to injuries, as well as "injuries" and players from the Super Bowl teams not participating, and were treated to three quarters of Vince Young and David Garrard at quarterback, I thought I would look back at the worst pro bowl picks of all-time. This is a completely subjective list, and has several problems. Mainly, I am limited by statistics, and it's harder to tell who the bad picks were at positions like Offensive Guard or Middle Linebacker. When a running back or quarterback gets in on reputation, well, the numbers are there to see. I have no doubt that a fair percentage of offensive line picks were reputation picks that may not have merited. Some defensive players may have gotten in when they shouldn't have thirty years ago. So really, this is primarily a list of the worst pro bowl selections at the offensive skill positions.
Some of these are guys that should not have been selected, and maybe people were hoping that potential would continue to develop. Others are veteran picks for guys that were really good players, but shouldn't have been selected in a given year. And others were replacements that wouldn't have been selected but for the circumstances of the particular year.
10. Marty Schottenheimer, 1965, Buffalo Bills. Marty Schottenheimer was a backup linebacker for the Bills in 1965. So why did he make the pro bowl in 1965, the only one of his career? Because that year, the Bills won the AFL Championship and the entire team played in the pro bowl. I guess I could have picked all the other lesser known backups on the Bills, but we'll go with Marty to represent all of them. While this was a one-time thing in the AFL in 1965, the practice of having the championship team play in the pro bowl was common practice when the pro bowl game first developed, so you'll find numerous "pro bowlers" who had less than notable careers among the old-timers.
9. Dave Krieg, 1989, Seattle Seahawks. Krieg was below average according to almost any rate stat measure in 1989, and that doesn't take into account the fact that he set a then-NFL record with 18 fumbles (still fifth all-time).
8. Jay Novacek, 1993, Dallas Cowboys. Novacek posted 44 catches, 445 yards and only one touchdown, while fumbling the ball three times in 1993. Those numbers were good enough for 13th best fantasy points at the tight end position, same as Troy Drayton, and Novacek was not exactly considered a Mark Bavaro clone as a blocker. Part of the issue was that most of the top tight ends were in the AFC, but speaking of Bavaro, even he put up better numbers than Novacek while playing for the Eagles in 1993. In contrast, the other three pro bowl tight ends that year (Shannon Sharpe, Eric Green and Brent Jones) lapped Novacek, averaging 71 catches, 891 yards, and 5.7 touchdowns, while combining for 6 fumbles on way more touches.
7. John Hadl, 1972, San Diego Chargers. Hadl led the league by throwing 26 interceptions in 1972 (against 15 touchdowns) while his 6.6 yards per attempt was by far his lowest output since his rookie year. The Chargers went 4-9-1, so it wasn't like he had team success to bolster his case.
6. Tucker Frederickson, 1965, New York Giants. Frederickson was selected first overall by the Giants in 1965, as they did not want to select Joe Namath when he was going to sign with the Jets. Frederickson got the nod based on his draft position and potential, and even though he was third in the NFL in rush attempts, he finished only 8th in rushing yards because of a lowly 3.4 yards per carry, behind pro bowl snub Don Perkins of the Cowboys. Frederickson missed all of the next season with injury, never rushed for 500 yards in a season again, and never made another pro bowl.
5. Brent Fullwood, 1989, Green Bay Packers. Brent Fullwood was the fourth overall pick in 1987, but didn't do a whole lot his first two years. In 1989, the Packers made a run at the playoffs with the Magic Man, and Fullwood had the best year of his career, though it still wasn't all that notable. His 821 rushing yards and 5 touchdowns put him as the 19th highest scoring back in 1989, and I suspect he was an injury replacement and several others must have passed, because Ottis Anderson, Greg Bell and Herschel Walker all had vastly superior numbers. Fullwood played in six more games after his "pro bowl" year.
4. Brett Favre, 2008, New York Jets. Favre led the league with 22 interceptions and was below average in yards per attempt as the Jets lost the last four games as a he struggled with an injury.
3. John Stallworth, 1983, Pittsburgh Steelers. John Stallworth was one of the best receivers in the game in the early 1980's, and he made the pro bowl three straight years from 1982-1984. The problem in 1983 is that he barely played, and was selected based on four games, a total of 100 receiving yards, and no touchdowns.
2. Mike Alstott, any year he made a pro bowl as a "fullback", Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If I have to pick a year, I guess I'll go with 2000, when Alstott missed three games, rushed for only 465 yards and scored only 5 touchdowns. If I ever hear anyone suggest that Mike Alstott should be in the Hall of Fame because he is a six time pro bowler, I will puke. Never mind. He should thank his stars that he was classified as a fullback even though most of his carries came out of the running back position, because otherwise, we would see that he was a lot closer to guys like Bam Morris, or Charles Way, or Curtis Enis, or Ron Dayne, or Stacey Mack, and a long way from an actual pro bowl running back.
1. Mike Boryla, 1975, Philadelphia Eagles. Boryla started only five games in 1975, taking over for Roman Gabriel late in the year. Because Tarkenton withdrew from the pro bowl with an injury, followed by basically everyone else begging out with an injury as well, Boryla got the call. People may be whining about Young and Garrard now, but Boryla would be akin to Bruce Gradkowski getting the pro bowl invite. Boryla actually took full advantage of his fifteen minutes of fame, throwing two late touchdowns to Terry Metcalf and Mel Gray as the NFC rallied for a 23-20 win.
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