By John Boyle
Back when the possibility of a four-game suspension was hanging over Richard Sherman’s head, he was asked if it bothered him that he might miss out on the Pro Bowl.
“It don’t mean nothing,” Sherman said last month. “I bet you I’ll be on the first-team All-Pro. That means more to me.”
And hopefully you’ve learned by now not to bet against Sherman, because he did indeed earn first-team All-Pro honors, a more prestigious distinction, along with teammates Earl Thomas, Max Unger and Marshawn Lynch.
Sherman ended up winning his appeal, but was still the biggest Pro Bowl snub when he was named an alternate despite being, by any measure, one of the best cornerbacks in the league, never mind the NFC. Because Pro Bowl votes were collected before Sherman’s appeal had been heard, it’s hard to imagine that didn’t play a role in him not getting enough votes from coaches and players to make the team. Voting for the All-Pro team, however, didn’t occur until after Sherman had his name cleared, which explains why he appeared on 39 of 50 ballots, getting the most votes of any cornerback in the NFL.
“That is taking individuals and saying they are the best in the NFL at that position and that’s what I wanted to be,” Sherman told the Associated Press. “The Pro Bowl is taking three from each side, it’s more of a popularity contest. The All-Pro, you’re the best at your position. It doesn’t matter if you’re a fifth-rounder or fourth-rounder or undrafted. If you play the best, you’re All-Pro.”
Lynch, Thomas and Unger were all named to the Pro Bowl squad as well, and each earned first-team All Pro honors for the first time in their careers (Thomas was named to the second team last year). Lynch was one of two running backs chosen along with Adrian Peterson, who was a unanimous pick.
Seattle’s four All Pros matched the 2005 team for the most in franchise history (LT Walter Jones, LG Steve Hutchinson, RB Shaun Alexander and FB Mack Strong), and was the second highest total behind San Francisco, which had six first-teamers.
First Team All-Pros(votes in parentheses)
Quarterback: Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos (43)
Running backs: Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings (50); Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks (24)
Fullback: Vonta Leach, Houston Texans (26)
Receivers: Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions (49); Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears (23)
Tight end: Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons (24)
Tackles: Duane Brown, Houston Texans (27); Ryan Clady, Denver Broncos (19)
Guards: Mike Iupati, San Francisco 49ers (36); Jahri Evans, New Orleans Saints (23)
Center: Max Unger, Seattle Seahawks (16)
Kicker: Blair Walsh, Minnesota Vikings (42)
Returner: Jacoby Jones, Baltimore Ravens (37.5)
Defensive ends: J.J. Watt, Houston Texans (50); Cameron Wake, Miami Dolphins (28)
Defensive Tackles: Geno Atkins (42); Vince Wilfork (27)
Outside linebackers: Von Miller, Denver Broncos (48); Aldon Smith, San Francisco
Inside linebackers: Patrick Willis, San Francisco 49ers (30); NaVorro Bowman (26)
Cornerbacks: Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks (39); Charles Tillman, Chicago Bears (37)
Safeties: Earl Thomas, Seattle Seahawks (28); Dashon Goldson, San Francisco 49ers (20)
Punter: Andy Lee, San Francisco 49ers (24)
Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (4)
Running backs: Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins (14); Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs (7)
Receivers: A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals (16.5); Andre Johnson, Houston Texans (8.5)
Tight end: Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys (19)
Tackles: Joe Thomas, Cleveland Browns (17); Joe Staley, San Francisco 49ers (11)
Guards: Marshal Yanda, Baltimore Ravens (17); Logan Mankins, New England Patriots (7)
Center: Maurkice Pouncey, Pittsburgh Steelers (10)
Returner: David Wilson, New York Giants (3)
Defensive ends: Justin Smith, San Francisco 49ers (6); Julius Peppers, Chicago Bears (5)
Defensive tackles: Justin Smith, San Francisco 49ers (17); Ndamukong Suh, Detroit Lions (5); Haloti Ngata, Baltimore Ravens (5)
Outside linebackers: Chad Greenway, Minnesota Vikings (2); Ahmad Brooks, San Francisco 49ers (1); Clay Matthews, Green Bay Packers (1)
Inside linebackers: Daryl Washington, Arizona Cardinals (20); London Fletcher, Washington Redskins (7)
Cornerbacks: Champ Bailey, Denver Broncos (8); Tim Jennings, Chicago Bears (8)
Safeties: Eric Weddle, San Diego Chargers (19); Jairus Byrd, Buffalo Bills (7)
Punter: Thomas Morstead, New Orleans Saints (18)