Voting for the 2009 Pro Bowl is officially closed, and now it’s time to wait patiently for the NFL to announce which players will be representing their organizations, and their conferences this February in Hawaii.
If we’re being honest, it’s not the most exciting game to watch. But it’s the honor and recognition that matters most.
Our players have been snubbed in recent years.
Leon Washington was disregarded for Joshua Cribbs of the Cleveland Browns. And Kerry Rhodes’ Pro Bowl-caliber performances over the last two years fell short to John Lynch and his reputation.
The only members of the New York Jets to represent the team in recent seasons are no longer with the team.
Justin Miller went as a kick returner, and is now with the Oakland Raiders. And Jonathan Vilma went as an alternate, only to be traded to the New Orleans Saints. Terrible how these things work out, isn’t it?
But 2008 is a new year! For the first time in a long time, Jets’ fans have the benefit of cheering for someone that will get in by his name alone.
Brett Favre is a fan-favorite—not just in New York, but around the NFL as a whole. His completion percentage in 2008 is the highest it’s ever been in his well-documented career, so it can’t be legitimately argued that he isn’t worthy of the honor.
Aside from Favre, the only other men that can be considered locks for the recognition are Alan Faneca and Kris Jenkins.
Faneca has been a staple in the Pro Bowl since he was with the Pittsburgh Steelers. And Jenkins has been making noise all over the NFL as a potential Defensive Player of the Year candidate. The entire league has seen what he’s capable of, and what he means for the Jets’ run defense.
But they’re not the only men having Pro Bowl-caliber seasons.
Thomas Jones is quietly having the best season of his career, and he’s doing it on the other side of 30. The AFC’s leading-rusher should be on his way to his first Pro Bowl. If it happened for Fred Taylor of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2008, why not for Jones in 2009?
Accompanying Jones should be an assortment of offensive players. Offensive linemen Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson are playing very well.
Mangold should’ve been in the Pro Bowl since his rookie year, but Kevin Mawae’s skill and reputation have kept Mangold at home over the years.
Maybe the biggest reason Jones is having a career-year is fullback Tony Richardson. Forever the unsung hero, fullbacks receive minimal glory while the halfbacks rack up the yardage and touchdowns.
It’s something Richardson’s been doing throughout his career, having blocked for Adrian Peterson in Minnesota, and for Larry Johnson and Priest Holmes in Kansas City. A lot of Jones’ success could be credited to the old man.
A long-shot for the recognition would have to be rookie tight-end Dustin Keller. He’s on pace to have one of the best rookie seasons a tight-end has ever had in the NFL. Emerging as Favre’s go-to receiver in recent weeks, Keller might fall victim to being a new guy surrounded by familiar faces.
Kansas City Chiefs’ Tony Gonzalez is playing the only way he knows how—at a top level, and Indianapolis Colts’ tight-end Dallas Clark continues to be a favorite target for Peyton Manning.
Keller should be a Pro Bowler in the future, without a doubt. But his chances are slim with so much talent in the AFC.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Jets’ are fully-loaded with talent. They’ve dropped off in recent weeks, but they’re still some of the best the NFL has to offer.
Second-year cornerback Darrelle Revis leads the 31st-ranked pass defense. That was as difficult to write as it was for you to read.
Despite the astronomical yardage every quarterback throws for against the Jets, Revis has been the Jets’ most consistent player in the secondary. The team as whole gets torched through the air, but Revis manages to neutralize all of his opponents on a regular basis.
It’s one of those situations where only Jets’ fans may realize how good Revis is. If he doesn’t make it to Hawaii this year, we should all take solace in the fact that it won’t be his last opportunity.
But there should be some more locks than Kris Jenkins. Shaun Ellis, the longest-tenured member of the New York Jets, is having one of the best seasons in his long career with the team.
His recent legal troubles are unfortunate, but what’s important is how unfortunate his pass-rushing abilities are to quarterbacks and offensive linemen. He’s playing in a way Jets’ fans forgot he could, and should be able to ride that success all the way to the Pacific.
And finally there’s Leon Washington. He should be on his second year going to the Pro Bowl, but fate wouldn’t have it. He should go as a kick returner this season, but his offensive production should be enough to warrant votes, too. He’s the team’s MVP, and belongs there more than anyone this year.
It’s a good season to be a Jets’ fan. Recent troubles aside, this is one of the most talented teams fans have seen in years. Contrary to popular belief, this season isn’t a fluke because Brett Favre is here.
Angel Navedo covers the New York Jets for Examiner.com. His work can also be found on NYJetsFan.com where he is the Head Writer, and on MyGridironSpace.com—a premier social networking site built exclusively for NFL fans.
He is also a Senior Writer at the Bleacher Report, where he is one of the New York Jets Community Leaders.