The fans no longer have to worry about Pro Bowl voting. Everyone got out and Voted the Redskins Ticket, and the net result was that out of nineteen positions on the Pro Bowl rosters, nine of them have Redskins as the leading vote-getters. Thanks to ESPN NFC West blogger Mike Sando’s downloadable spreadsheet, we can see that the Redskins also had eleven second- or third-place finishers in the fan voting.
So congratulations and nice work to everyone who voted. The bad news is, that’s all in the past, and now it moves to the player and coach voting, which takes place this week at team facilities across the NFL. If the voting process for those teams is anything like it is here, this is probably a pretty lively week.
Ever wonder how the player voting works? I had never given it any specific thought, but had a vague mental image of guys sitting quietly on the stools in front of their lockers, gazing contemplatively into the distance as they weigh the relative merits of, say, Drew Brees and Kurt Warner before finally making a careful and deliberate mark on a pre-printed Scantron sheet.
This was not an accurate mental image. Here’s how it actually goes down.
When the team gathered for the daily team meeting this morning, before Coach Zorn started doing whatever it is that he would usually do in such a meeting, he turned the floor over to PR guy Zack Bolno. Bolno explained the basic rules of the Pro Bowl voting — no voting for guys on your own team, vote for NFC players only, offensive guys vote defensive players and vice versa, everyone vote for special teamers, and list first and second choices in the two columns — while other PR folk passed out the ballots, pens, and NFL-issued Player-by-Position guides to let guys know who’s out there.
Barely-controlled chaos ensued.
There was uncertainty if multiple players could sign one ballot. Guys who had been on other teams expressed puzzlement at the differences in voting procedure.
Position groups debated the best way to handle their voting. (The defensive and offensive linemen, for example, both elected to reach consensus as a group and all vote for the same players, while some guys simply filled the ballots out on their own.)
The rookies seemed taken aback by the process as a whole. “I never knew how it worked,” Malcolm Kelly said. “I thought the fans voted for everything.”
And the arguing … oh, the arguing. Some position groups reached accord quickly; others took a bit longer. Can you guess which category the defensive backs fell into? Between the naturally chatty nature of guys like Fred Smoot and Shawn Springs (and Fred Smoot, and Fred Smoot) and the apparent glut of talented NFC wide receivers this year — guys like Steve Smith, Greg Jennings, Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Calvin Johnson, and Roddy White — it seemed for awhile like the cornerbacks might never finish their ballot. (“You’ve got to have Boldin in there,” Smoot shouted. “They threw his nose in the trash and he STILL played!”) It was like the classic barstool sports argument, only with some actual consequences.
Anyhow, once the guys had finished with their ballots, they were required to sign them and return them to the team’s PR staff, who then had the unenviable task of calculating the entire team’s vote totals (two points for first, one for second choice) and generating the official team ballot, which was then signed by team NFLPA player representative James Thrash and submitted via internet late this afternoon. (The signed ballots are FedExed to the NFL offices in New York.)
It all makes the fan voting — the page after page of “Choose 2” and “Choose 4” — seem positively low-effort. Which is pretty much how Fred Smoot thinks it should be. “I think they should take our opinion more than anybody’s,” he said afterward. “Because we play against each other. And the good part about the way we can’t vote for anybody on our own team is that it makes us truly give an honest vote of how we feel.”
But, I pointed out, it’s not like you’re watching games on Sundays. Doesn’t that affect your ability to vote accurately?
“I wouldn’t say that,” Smoot said, “because a guy that’s doing his job and studying a lot of film, you can’t help but see other players from watching all that film. If somebody doesn’t see guys, it means he’s probably not watching enough film.”
What about the arguing — did you get the other guys to go the way you wanted? “Yeah, I always do,” Smoot said. “I’m good at that. I think I should’ve been a lawyer.”