Collins in Pro Bowl shows system needs overhaul

January, 21, 2009
1/21/09
12:05
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

Collins
Kerry Collins is a Pro Bowler, according to the roster at the league's Web site for the game.

He's an injury replacement for Brett Favre, who backed out. But Collins wasn't the first alternate, he was second behind Philip Rivers, who also won't go. (See AFC West blogger Bill Williamson's story here.)

As the surprising starter for the 13-3 Titans, Collins had a remarkable year. But his numbers hardly shout Pro Bowl: a completion percentage of 58.3, 12 touchdowns, seven interceptions, eight sacks and an 80.2 passer rating.

Peyton Manning, Jay Cutler and Favre were the original three quarterbacks for the AFC. Easy cases can be made that Rivers, Miami's Chad Pennington and New England's Matt Cassel each deserved to go ahead of both Favre and Collins. (At the time the voting was conducted, Cutler was worthy.)

I'm not down on Collins at all. He bailed the Titans out of a potential disastrous year with a no-longer-ready Vince Young at the helm and showed himself a more than capable and effective leader.

Still, I think a Pro Bowler has to also have some shiny numbers and I don't think a signal-caller should get a pineapple next to his name in his team's media guide when the best things he did were not throw picks or take sacks.

Two years ago, Young was even further down the Pro Bowl pecking order. But so many quarterbacks were hurt or chose not to play that he made the game despite a season with 12 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions. The league now asks teams not to reveal where in line their alternates stand because it fears such embarrassments.

This is one of the inherent problems with the game. Dropouts create too much opportunity for guys not quite worth of the honor, which waters it down for everyone else.

Starting next year, Hawaii isn't even part of the equation. The game will be played at the Super Bowl site the week between the championship games and the Super Bowl.

That means we can scratch the 10 or 12 guys from the league's two best teams from the roster, and the ones who were beat up on the losing end on the conference finals too. As if it's not diluted enough already.

One more complaint: the fan balloting that counts for a third of the results starts far too early and ends too early too. Player and coach voting should be conducted later as well, after 15 games if not the entire regular season.

Al of which makes it obvious that it's time to scrap the game.

Hold a skills competition that will allow someone to brag of being the league's fastest man, the league's strongest player and the league's most accurate quarterback. Hold a big gala that mixes in movie stars and recording artists. And let the original list of Pro Bowlers be written in stone -- no late additions padding resumes allowed.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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