The NFL will do what it does best tonight, conduct long NFL Network shows on topics that could be summarized in about 10 minutes, yet get stretched out for a couple of hours.
The NFL will announce its Pro Bowl selections tonight in an elaborate, prolonged program to break the selections, most of which will be obvious.
For the last few years, the Minnesota Vikings have been bereft of picks for the Pro Bowl because they tend to center on difference-making players that are on teams in contention for making the playoffs and beyond. As such, teams like Carolina and Arizona may end up dominating the number of NFC picks that get named to the all-star team.
The Vikings’ inclusion to the team have been few and far between in recent years, but this year there are several 2015 Vikings players who could be named to the Pro Bowl pool of talent – they’re still doing that school-yard pick ‘em to attempt to increase fan interest. Count head coach Mike Zimmer as generally disinterested.
“I’m a team guy. If they get voted in, that’s great, I hope they do. And if they don’t, we’ve got to play better,” Zimmer said. “… The Pro Bowl is the furthest thing from my mind.”
A case could be made that as many as seven (or as few as one) Vikings players could end up on the squad. Here’s making the case for why they should be included or added on when veterans with longstanding reputations beg off.
Adrian Peterson. A 30-year-old running back currently leading the league in rushing is a must-choose player. You don’t need too big an argument.
Joe Berger. This one may be a bit of a surprise, but Berger has graded out extremely well in every game this season. The problem is that there are too many career centers that have reputations that would likely preclude him from being selected. Deserving? You bet. Gonna get it? Probably not, but he could be a wild card selection.
Anthony Barr. He’s missed the last two games, but he is getting recognized around the league as being one of the premier multi-faceted players in the league. A 4-3 outside linebacker is asked to do a lot and he has done a lot to change games in a big way.
Everson Griffen. He’s among the NFC leaders in sacks among defensive ends and has done so missing all or part of three games. It may not be enough to get him in, but he’s done enough to earn a spot. How much is the Pro Bowl voting a reputation contest among fans? Jared Allen was in the top 10 among fan voting at the postion; Griffen was not.
Linval Joseph. Players and coaches make up a lot of the voting. If Joseph doesn’t get in, there’s something wrong. He has dominated like few other interior defensive linemen and is a Pro Bowl player, whether selected or not.
Harrison Smith. Missing three games will hurt his case, but he is building a reputation as being a difference-maker in the secondary that is a big hitter and a ball hawk. He finished seventh among fan voting at free safety. He may have to be an at-large selection when one of the named players is either injured or opts out, but he is deserving.
Cordarrelle Patterson. Wait. What? Pro Bowl teams include a return specialist and Patterson leads the NFL in kickoff return average. He may be a disappointing first-round pick that was intended to be a No. 1 receiver in the offense with the bonus of being a kickoff return man, but this is his job now and he’s making the most of it.
A case could be made that each of the players listed are deserving of Pro Bowl recognition, despite the nepotism that tends to permeate the selection of Pro Bowl players. Peterson is a lock. The other six? Get your popcorn ready and keep your fingers and Helga braids crossed.
Perhaps most of them are setting the table to get their nomination in 2016, when it will be hard to deny them. But all of the Magnificent Seven are deserving.