Cooley, Portis, Samuels, Sellers Make the Pro Bowl

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After all the voting, all the accusations of ballot-stuffing, all the arguing in player meeting rooms across the country, here are your Pro Bowl Washington Redskins:

  • Chris Cooley
  • Clinton Portis
  • Chris Samuels
  • Mike Sellers

I think, given the way the second half of the season has gone, this is probably about right, with the exception of London Fletcher. Neither Sellers nor Fletcher has been to the Pro Bowl before, and I thought both were deserving this season. It’s exciting to see Sellers go, but Fletcher coming up short makes it bittersweet.

Redskins Voting the Non-Redskins Ticket

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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.
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Wednesday, November 19: Mock the Vote?

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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.

Redskins Fans Are Good At Voting

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You might remember being asked once or twice to Vote the Redskins Ticket for the Pro Bowl. Perhaps you saw the lawn signs, or the bumper stickers, or the pins, and you said to yourself, “Self, that will never have any effect on the Pro Bowl voting.”

Mike Sando, ESPN.com’s NFC West blogger, has the current vote standings, and he would have another message for your Self.

Assuming Sando’s numbers are accurate — and if they’re not, someone has gone to a tremendous amount of effort to create a realistic-looking, detailed Excel file — the Redskins currently have four of the top ten overall vote-getters, in Clinton Portis, Santana Moss, Chris Cooley, and Jason Campbell.

Sando’s numbers also have the Redskins as the leading vote-getters at running back, fullback (Mike Seller is leading by an astronomical 130,000 votes), tight end, wide receiver, center, guard, tackle, defensive tackle, inside linebacker, strong safety (Chris Horton leading by 111,000 votes), free safety, cornerback, kicker, punter, return specialist, and special teamer.

Oh, and they aren’t leading the position, but have three of the top five at outside linebacker thanks to Jason Taylor‘s wearing of number 55.

Fan voting counts 1/3rd toward a player’s chances of making the Pro Bowl roster, so this shouldn’t be taken as an indication that the NFC Pro Bowl roster will be 85% Redskins, but it certainly reflects a motivated and dedicated fanbase.

So nice work voting, everyone, and keep it up. The official Redskins Ticket campaign may have ended with the presidential election, but fan voting is open until December 9.

Thursday, October 23: Still Another Reason to Vote the Redskins Ticket

In other campaign news, Matt Moseley, writer of ESPN.com’s NFC East blog, has … well not precisely endorsed Mike Sellers, per se, but he’s certainly thrown some support behind the Pro Bowl candidacy of the Redskins fullback:

Despite all his success as the lead blocker in the Redskins’ vaunted running game, Sellers has never been to a Pro Bowl. Last season, he was a first alternate. This season, though, the Redskins are taking advantage of their close proximity to the White House. With the presidential election less than three weeks away, Washington has launched its official Pro Bowl campaign. It’s worth watching the video just to see a legendary quarterback say, “I’m Sonny Jurgensen, and I approve this message.”

If Sellers doesn’t make it this season, blame it on voter irregularities in Florida. He’s one of the most devastating blockers in the league, and to watch him on an isolation play is pretty impressive.

It is frankly bizarre that Sellers and London Fletcher have never been to the Pro Bowl, and those two alone would be reason enough to vote.

Thursday, October 16: Vote the Redskins Ticket

It’s October in a year that’s divisible by four, which means that voting is something that everyone’s talking about. Many of you probably watched two ambitious, intelligent men spend two hours last night arguing about a plumber from Holland, Ohio just to earn your vote. That’s an important campaign, no doubt — the leader of the free world is an important elected position — but it’s also not the only one that’s going on right now.

Your Washington Redskins are encouraging you to vote the Redskins Ticket for this year’s Pro Bowl. Last year, the rival Dallas Cowboys sent a record thirteen players to the Pro Bowl, taking up valuable roster spots that could be occupied by deserving Redskins, and it’s our job as fans to see that nothing like that happens again.

Fan vote makes up one-third of the selection criteria for the Pro Bowl, and the team is encouraging their fans to vote early and often for the Redskins nominees.

There are plenty of Redskins who are deserving of Pro Bowl appearances, but have been consistently overlooked over the years — take London Fletcher, for example, who has NEVER been to the Pro Bowl but is leading the league in tackles so far this decade. So that’s one reason to vote.

And for the lively Redskins fans in Hawai’i, this is an opportunity to bring a whole bunch of Redskins to your neck of the woods. Odds are good that Colt Brennan isn’t going to make the cut this year (especially since he’s not on the ballot), but it’s important to start practicing voting now — and, hey, maybe one of his teammates will bring him along if they make the roster.

The Redskins Ticket site will be updating regularly between now and the close of Pro Bowl fan voting on December 9th, so check back regularly. Redskins Fans are doing a terrific job voting so far this year, helping Clinton Portis to FedEx Ground Player of the Week, Jim Zorn to Motorola Coach of the Week, and Chris Horton to Diet Pepsi Rookie of the Week, so we just need to keep that up.

And so far, at least, the Redskins Ticket campaign contains 100% less midwestern plumber than the presidential one, which can only be seen as a bonus. Like the people of Quincy, Massachusetts, say: your vote is your voice, so speak up. (Being from Ma., they probably don’t pronounce the final Rs, but the sentiment is still a good one.)