The early Pro Bowl results have caused a little bit of a stir on the internet, as you might expect. Commenters on the ESPN.com post that initially released the results have been critical of the number of Redskins currently leading their positions, as have many of the commenters on ProFootballTalk’s post on the subject. And Dan Steinberg asserts in headline-ese that the Redskins “successfully make mockery of Pro Bowl“.
But here’s the thing, as many Redskins fans have pointed out on those comment threads: all the team did, when you come right down to it, was encourage the fans to vote. Which they did. In enormous, impressive numbers, especially for Mike Sellers.
Not nearly as agitated with the Redskins? The NFL Digital Media department, who last week sent out an email to the digital media contacts at all 32 NFL teams, reading in part:
As it stands right now, the Redskins are leading the NFC ballots in 16 of 19 positions. Its no surprise, given that they have been promoting this all season long and currently have an interstitial ad and a top right ad urging fans to vote.
This would be a great weekend to promote pro bowl voting to your fans. Let me know if you need any ideas or support from the league (or the Redskins :)) in this important initiative.
(I too was surprised that the NFL Digital Media department uses emoticons. At least they didn’t send out the msg ntirely n txt lol.)
There is a long and storied history to “rigging” All-Star Ballots, most of which employ a little more craft and guile than just repeatedly asking your fans to vote. The 1957 Cincinnati Redlegs used pre-printed paper ballots in their local newspaper. San Francisco Giants fans used a computer program to vote in Barry Bonds, and Vancouver Canucks fans used a Firefox plug-in to vote for Rory Fitzpatrick and anger the entire hockey universe. Heck, Steinberg was the one who brought major media attention to the “Punch Parties” to rig, yes, the WNBA All-Star Game. All of those are several orders of magnitude different from the Redskins Ticket thing, and also most likely did not receive approving emails from their respective leagues’ Digital Media people.
On top of everything else, it’s probably a self-defeating proposition. There is no doubt in my mind that an enormous number of Cowboys, Eagles, and Giants fans have been sitting in front of their computers voting for their team’s guys just about continually since the early numbers were released. Truly, 2008 is the year of massive voter turnout.