Since Tuesday night’s release of the 2012 Pro Bowl selections, there have been various rumblings around Panther Nation, as to which players were snubbed by the committee. Among the names mentioned, include cornerback Chris Gamble, linebacker James Anderson, offensive tackle Jordan Gross, running back DeAngelo Williams, and of course…quarterback Cam Newton.
In the spirit of sticking with one player, I will go with the one who has set the bar for future rookie first-round draft pick quarterbacks, Cam Newton. Newton has made NFL history by breaking the league’s all-time passing record last set by Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, and has also set the all-time record for touchdowns as a rookie. Newton is also 107 yards shy of 4,000 yards passing by a rookie quarterback in a single season.
So what happened in the Pro Bowl balloting? Well, just that, folks. The Pro Bowl, more often than not, is not based on merit so much as popularity vote. Thus the reason I, like so many others, attribute the Pro Bowl to a popularity contest — literally.
Focusing solely on the NFC side of Pro Bowl-bound quarterbacks, of the three starting, there is no question in my mind that Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees are deserving of and have earned the vote, even if based on popularity, to the Pro Bowl. These two players, popularity aside, have proven on the field that they are the ‘definition’ of a Pro Bowl player. The third candidate, Eli Manning, has caught the ire of many, and while I can make an argument for Newton to be there instead of Manning, we should take a look at Eli’s body of work.
Manning has been clutch in fourth-quarter comebacks, and he has his team within a single win of the playoffs. Likewise, Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys are in the same boat as the Giants: Win, and in. It comes down to a head-to-head matchup between the two teams this Sunday. On the popularity side, the Giants are a team within a large market and carry a large fanbase, to boot. The Panthers and Newton are in need of…well, a 20-game season.
If we are to find a silver lining to the cloud however, it would be that Newton wasn’t completely passed-up — nor were Williams or Gross — because he is a first-choice alternate, should Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, or Eli Manning suffer an unfortunate injury, or more likely, be a contender in the Super Bowl. If Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints make their second Super Bowl trip in three years, it will be Cam Newton and Jordan Gross who assume their positions on the Pro Bowl roster.
When looked at it through this light, snubbed seems a bit over-reactive. The odds of Panthers fans seeing Newton perform in the Pro Bowl are high, though. Taking a shot in the dark, I would say there is a 66% chance that we could see Newton in his first Pro Bowl as a rookie quarterback. While I’m not discounting the chances that San Francisco has to play in the Super Bowl, I am trying to remain optimistic that we might see at least a third Panther in the Pro Bowl come February.
Follow Eric on Twitter @PSU_EQ.