Pro Bowl voting is a rather subjective performance. For proof, A.J. Hawk was voted an alternate at linebacker.
But with Aaron Rodgers named to his first Pro Bowl on Tuesday, the quarterback officially has emerged from the shadow of Brett Favre.
Rodgers, safety Nick Collins and cornerback Charles Woodson were the Packers picked for the NFC squad for the annual all-star game. Woodson is the lone starter in the group.
Rodgers, the NFL’s fourth-rated quarterback, is joined on the NFC squad by the Saints’ Drew Brees (No. 1-rated quarterback) and Favre (No. 3). It’s quite an honor considering he beat out established stars like Philadelphia’s Donovan McNabb, Arizona’s Kurt Warner and Dallas’ Tony Romo — all of which are having big years in leading their teams’ to the postseason.
Rodgers ranks in the top 10 in nearly every important passing category. His passer rating of 102.4 trails only Bart Starr (105.0 in 1966) in franchise history. Starr is the only Packers quarterback to finish with a rating of at least 100.0. Favre’s best rating, for what it’s worth, was 95.8 in 1996.
Rodgers and Favre own the NFL’s best touchdown-to-interception ratios with matching marks of 29 touchdowns against seven interceptions. Rodgers is tied for third in the NFL in touchdowns, fifth in yards (4,199), 10th in completion percentage (63.9), third in 25-plus-yard completions (38), first in interception percentage (1.4), sixth in yards per attempt (8.2) and is second in turning third downs into first downs (50.7 percent).
“It means a lot from a personal standpoint, but I think it reflects the success that we’ve had as a team,” Rodgers said in a statement released by the team. “I have very high expectations on my performance, and at the same time I realize this is not just an individual reward. This reflects team success. Definitely this is something that you hope for but you need to play well as a team. This is a team achievement in my opinion.”
Woodson, a two-time NFC defensive player of the month and a leading contender for NFL defensive player of the year, earned his sixth career Pro Bowl bid and second with the Packers. His eight interceptions are tied for his career high and trail the league leaders by one. Woodson, with a league-high 15 interceptions over the last two seasons, has a career-high 81 tackles, along with two sacks, four forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and 18 passes defensed.
“They’re each special,” Woodson said. “I think what makes this one special of course is that we’re heading into the postseason, so it means that what you’ve done on the field has contributed to something that could turn into something great.”
Collins, who was named to his second consecutive Pro Bowl, has emerged as one of the NFL’s best safeties. He’s tied for fifth in the NFL with six interceptions — only Darren Sharper’s eight are more among safeties — and his 13 interceptions over the last two seasons trail only Woodson in the NFL.
“It means a lot, to show everybody that I’m consistent and I care about my job and I put all my effort into everything I do,” Collins said.
Linebacker Clay Matthews III was named a first alternate, meaning he’d be first in line should either DeMarcus Ware, Lance Briggs and Brian Orakpo skip the game. Tackle Chad Clifton, running back Ryan Grant and Hawk are secondary alternates.
Only three rookies made the Pro Bowl rosters. Orakpo, Buffalo’s Jairus Byrd (league-high nine interceptions) and Houston linebacker Brian Cushing, a teammate of Matthews at USC.
Along with Favre, the Vikings led the NFL with eight Pro Bowlers.
The Pro Bowl teams are determined by a one-third vote of fans, players and coaches. The game will be played one week before the Super Bowl, on Jan. 31 at Dolphin Stadium in Miami.
The complete teams, are right here.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.