Many people were very upset that Richard Sherman, perhaps the best cornerback in the league and a viable option to finish close behind J.J. Watt in the Defensive Player of the Year voting, was not named to the Pro Bowl. It is with near certainty that Sherman's pending suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy was the cause of the snub, leaving him just shy of making the roster, though I heard through the grapevine that he won his appeal.
"He's Innocent! He's Innocent!" I scream to a waiting crowd. (I don't think I have ever heard an A Time To Kill Reference in my life and that is a shame.)
Well, Sherman would much rather make the NFL All-Pro team, and I too would much rather have Sherman make the NFL All-Pro team. I don't know how many times I have called the Pro Bowl stupid, but it certainly hasn't been enough times. The Pro Bowl is stupid. "Hey do you want to watch two squads that mostly have never played with each other... practice?!?! Sorry many of your first choices opted out or could not be here. But it 's sunny Hawaii! Oh, but you're in Cleveland watching on T.V. Sad face."
The ESPN All-Pro team is not the NFL All-Pro team but it is probably very close to the actual All-Pro team! Seattleite John Clayton whipped out his ponytail and wrote up his All-Pro team from the Seattleite of Love and guess what... Three Seahawks!
Unlike a Pro Bowl team, an All-Pro team is one player per position, so it is really telling that in the opinion of somebody or a few somebodies, you are the best player at that position. Except of course for the positions with multiple starters, like corner back, but really, we all know that Sherman is the best and the biggest trash talker, but he is our trash talker.
Clayton chose Sherman alongside Charles Tillman of the Bears to be the best corners in the NFL. It's been a hell of a year for Sherman, making headlines for all sorts of damn reasons but at the end of the day he stepped up and shut down just about every receiver that lined up opposite of him. I was at the gym yesterday (let me repeat that because it so rarely happens: I was actually at a gym!) and ESPN was on and they were talking about Sherman's appeal. They showed a highlight reel of Sherman's season and damn, it is just hard to appreciate how good he has really been. (Even though ESPN insists on running a loop for five minutes of the same highlight tape.) I may actually take for granted how great of a season Sherman has had. His NFL All-Pro announcement for the first team should be coming, or he will sue their asses.
Joining Sherman in the secondary is Earl Thomas, a 2nd team All-Pro in 2011 that could move "off the bench" and into the starting lineup for the totally real All-Pro team this season. Just three years in his career and Thomas might be the best safety in the NFL. Looking over some recent examples of "Best safety in the NFL", it seems like 2-3 All-Pro teams is about the norm. Except for Brian Dawkins, who had six, and Ed Reed, who has had nine. Reed was a second-teamer with Thomas last season, but Thomas should be replacing Troy Polamalu this season. The Chargers' Eric Weddle was Clayton's other choice and Weddle was a first-team All-Pro last season.
Finally, Clayton chose Max Unger as the best center in the NFL. The one-time guard has quickly transformed into one of the best and most consistent middle men in the league and the thing with centers is that when they start to make these lists, they rarely stop. You should not be able to name many centers, but you should be able to name Kevin Mawae, Jeff Saturday, and Olin Kreutz. Maybe Kreutz because he was a Husky or Mawae because he was a Seahawk, but also they were some of the great centers of all-time. Or at least I am told they were!
And now we will be told that Unger is one of the best in the NFL and that's probably deserving, because the inside run game and dealing with all of the new schemes this season, the offensive line has been fantastic. Unger could make several All-Pro's in his career, but for now he has only made Clayton's. That's a start.
Last season the NFL named the All-Pro team on January 6th, so expect an announcement on Monday I am guessing.