If there were ever a time for the NFL to re-evaluate its Pro Bowl procedures, I think we’ve hit it. Minnesota cornerback Antoine Winfield, who played in only 10 regular season games and is still playing in a limited capacity because of foot soreness, was added to the NFC roster Tuesday.
Don’t get me wrong. I think Winfield deserved this honor for several seasons before he finally broke through in 2008. When healthy, he’s one of the league’s best tacklers and is more than reliable in coverage.
But that’s just it. Winfield hasn’t been healthy for three months. He sprained his foot Oct. 18, missed six games and finished the year with one interception. He has spent the past two games as the Vikings’ nickel back because the foot has limited his speed in coverage.
Nevertheless, Winfield was a first alternate for the Pro Bowl and was presumably added to the roster because of an injury to Arizona cornerback Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie. Again, this isn't an attempt to mute Winfield's honor. There have been years when he's deserved to go to the Pro Bowl and been shut out, so I guess you could argue that what goes around, comes around.
But I think we can all agree on this: Any system that elevates a player who missed 40 percent of his team’s games -- no matter who he is -- is deeply, deeply flawed.