Count B.J. Raji among those who thinks the NFL would be better served having NFL scouts choose the Pro Bowl teams instead of the combined vote of fans, players and coaches.
The Packers defensive lineman express no ill feelings for being left off this year’s team after making it last season, and he doesn’t mind the way the vote is conducted now. But he suggested there’s a capriciousness to making it under the current rules, and that players’ votes can be skewed by trying to get teammates in or other factors.
“There won’t be any bias there,” he said of having pro scouts voting. “The pro scouting department, they look at so much tape, they know what they see, their eyes don’t lie type of thing. Like, you played against a guy, he cheap shot you, so you don’t like him, so you’re not going to vote him type thing. There’s no hard feelings (with the scouts).
“But this way is fine with me. It works. Last year I was in, I was happy. This year I didn’t get in, I’m not really upset but obviously as a player you’d like to get in. It happens. In the NFC, some years you’re going to have a good year and not make it, I’ve been through that, and some years you’re like, ‘OK, I did all right,’ and you wind up in the Pro Bowl.”
Raji said that the players’ vote isn’t a league-wide aggregate, but is based on each team getting one vote per position. So whatever player at each position who gets the most votes by the Packers then gets one vote. Offensive players vote for defensive players, and vice versa. Teams cannot vote for their own players.
Raji said that when he votes he asks teammates about the best players they faced at their positions, but he acknowledged that players don’t see enough of other teams to make well educated votes.
“Reputation ahs a lot to do with it,” he said. “I think also nationally televised games, as I alluded to earlier. It depends. Some guys I’ve heard they’ll vote for the worst guy on the list because they want one of their teammates to get on there. A lot of things that go into that shouldn’t.”
One of the Packers’ three Pro Bowlers, center Jeff Saturday, was probably the most questioned Pro Bowl choice this year because he’d just lost his starting job last week. Saturday, 37, has been to five previous Pro Bowls.
“I will say this for Jeff Saturday,” coach Mike McCarthy said, “you don’t ever apologize for anything in this league. Everything is earned. He was voted in by the fans, his peers and coaches, so that’s the process.”