Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Some Local Footballers Get National Attention

What an exciting day for useless fantasy teams! And no, I don't mean fantasy as in the sense you are all thinking of right now. I'm referring to the fantasy teams that the media types and the sports leagues put together at the end (or sometimes middle) of seasons to celebrate the best. In this case, I'm of course referring to the college football All-American squads and the NFL's Pro Bowl squads.

Even though there are roughly 2.4 million different All-American teams out there right now, the one that matters the most (at least in my book) is the AP's team. And that one was released today, and low and behold on the second team was Pitt's own Scott McKillop. And while I think an argument could be made for McKillop to be on the first team, I will take this and think it is probably about as good as can be expected for a player on the second-best Big East team. As for any Pitt snubs, I don't really see any huge beefs, and certainly didn't expect to have anyone else on the list. Of course Shady is as good as any back in the country on talent, but his yards didn't nearly match up with the others, even if his brilliance and his visits to the end zone did. I'd put Conor Lee up against anyone in the country for his expertise in the dreadful Heinz Field conditions, but that's a very subjective position. I also love the work CJ Davis did, but knew he wasn't going to get anywhere near an All-American spot.

And as for the professional fellas, our beloved Steelers, the team that many consider to be the best team in football and has indisputably the best defense in the league, landed just 3 players on the Pro Bowl squad. James Harrison and Troy Polamalu were no-doubt-about-it leadpipe locks, and the elder statesman of the team, James Farrior was a pleasant surprise as a reserve to the previous two's starting spots. But that's it folks. 3 players.

Now, I'm not about to get all riled up over the most useless All-Star game in sports, but I thought this team earned a little more than that. I thought after we all saw just how badly the Steelers need Aaron Smith last season his constant underrated status would vanish. But I guess not, as he was nowhere to be seen. And LaMarr Woodley has morphed into one tough outside 'backer in his first season as a starter, and I think he surpasses James Harrison as the most feared player on this D next season, but he was left off the ballot despite excellent numbers because of a shockingly great season for linebackers. Ike Taylor, because he inherited his hands from Dick Stuart, always gets a knock from scouts and doesn't have gaudy stats, but he has been a superb corner this season and I think deserved a spot. And I thought Ryan Clark was a very underrated guy. Now if these guys had performed in this way on teams that were currently 7-7, then they probably wouldn't deserve it, but when you are part of the best defense in the league that has torn through the toughest schedule in recent football history, you should earn these kinds of things.

Of course, that was before I looked up the roster to see who I thought these guys should replace, and was appalled to see that there are only 3 corners and 6 total defensive backs on the roster, only 5 linebackers, and just 6 defensive linemen. That's only 17 defenders. How is that enough? I mean they do run a 4-3-4 D, so why not have a backup spot at every position instead of like a half a backup at every position. 22 defenders so everyone can play about half the game. Whatever, that's the NFL for you, I guess this all just makes a bit too much sense.

Still, you know that in typical Pro Bowl fashion, probably 6 or 7 of those 17 defenders will end up begging out due to "injuries" like hangnails, splinters, tummy aches, and still-hungover-from-the-Super-Bowl. So, I'll be that 2 of the aforementioned Stiller defenders get the call, and the bet here is Aaron Smith and Ike Taylor.

Right about now you're probably wondering, "well what about the offense? Doesn't anyone there deserve consideration?" To which I respond: Well... if one or two of the wideouts beg out and then Randy Moss, Dwayne Bowe, and Derrick Mason all have their plane crash on the way over to Hawaii, maybe Hines Ward gets a spot, but other than that... No.

I mean I'd put Large Benjamin up against anyone and everyone as a total package QB and a winner, but the stats just aren't there this year, and that's what the Pro Bowl is all about in this day and age.

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