By Chris Cluff
The Pro Bowl is a pointless popularity contest. It always has been. It’s a lot like the NCAA tournament selection process: Deserving guys get left out every year, leading to complaints and bickering about who should and shouldn’t have made it.
This year, although the Seahawks had five players voted to the team, they could rightfully complain about the fact that the 49ers had six defenders picked yet the Hawks had just one, that Chris Clemons deserved to go over Jason Pierre-Paul and that Richard Sherman deserved it over Patrick Peterson.
The Hawks got five players voted to the team: Marshawn Lynch, Max Unger, Russell Okung, Earl Thomas and Leon Washington. Unger and Okung deservedly are going for the first time, Thomas for the second and Lynch and Washington for the third.
Lynch is the league’s No. 2 rusher, with 1,490 yards, and Unger and Okung were named starters largely because they spearhead the No. 2 rushing attack in the league and they have combined to surrender one sack all season (and Unger has only one penalty).
Thomas, who has three interceptions and a touchdown, will back up San Francisco’s Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner.
Washington leads the NFC with a 30.1-yard average on kick returns, with one touchdown.
Clemons and Sherman were named first alternates along with fullback Mike Robinson, who ended up in the game last year as an alternate. Clemons, who has 11.5 sacks, was aced out name rushers. At least Julius Peppers (11.5 sacks) and Jared Allen (10) deserved it. Pierre-Paul has just 6.5 sacks.
Sherman is tied with Peterson for second in the league in interceptions (seven), and he leads the league with 23 passes defended. But he lost out to Peterson, who will back up Chicago’s deserving duo of Tim Jennings (league-high eight picks) and Charles Tillman (top-notch shutdown corner).
Seattle’s second alternates are safety Kam Chancellor, special-teams ace Heath Farwell and punter Jon Ryan. The Saints’ Thomas Morstead and Washington’s Lorenzo Alexander were deserving special-teams picks. Russell Wilson is a third backup at quarterback, and Brandon Mebane is a fourth alternate at defensive tackle.
Of course, if the Seahawks make it to the Super Bowl, the Pro Bowl will become even more irrelevant because none of them will be playing in it. The Pro Bowl (Jan. 27) falls the week between the conference title games (Jan. 20) and the Super Bowl (Feb. 3).
Sherman is expected to find out Thursday whether his appeal had any effect on the four-game suspension the league wants to hand him for allegedly taking a PED.
Sherman, who would be ineligible to play in the Pro Bowl if suspended, revealed some details about his case on Tuesday via Twitter (edited for clarity): “Hoping we play in a just league @nfl. Not a league that allows a tester to mix urine samples. A tester with a history of errors. He has had to have six other tests thrown out and he has only been testing six months.”
Sherman told reporters Wednesday what everyone knows about Roger Goodell’s litigious, discipline-happy league: “They don’t care if you took it or you didn’t take it, if the sample is tainted or it isn’t tainted. They said it doesn’t matter. The collective bargaining, there’s policies, there’s rules in the policies that they said should not apply to them and they wrote them. That’s just how the league does things.”
Sherman said he would sue the league if he is suspended.
If Sherman is suspended starting this week, as expected, the Hawks will be without both starting corners Sunday against St. Louis. Brandon Browner is eligible to return for the first playoff game. That would leave Marcus Trufant, Jeremy Lane, Byraon Maxwell and Ron Parker as the team’s corners against the Rams and beyond. Trufant returned to practice Wednesday after missing four games with a pulled hamstring.
Carroll told reporters earlier in the week that Lane and Maxwell are playing better than even the ever-positive coach thought they would.
“They have really come through well,” Carroll said. “They’re athletic, so I knew that they would athletically be OK, but they have played very consistent and stayed on top on the deep balls.”
- Lynch (back), offensive tackle Breno Giacomini (elbow), wide receiver Sidney Rice (knee), tight end Anthony McCoy (back), defensive end Red Bryant (foot), linebacker Leroy Hill (hamstring) and cornerback Walter Thurmond (hamstring) did not practice Wednesday.
- The Seahawks activated safety Winston Guy on Monday and waived receiver Deon Butler. Guy just served a four-game suspension. Butler was back with the team for just a week.
- The Seahawks decided against signing defensive end Ray Edwards, who was cut by Atlanta last month and worked out for the Hawks on Monday.
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Chris Cluff worked as a sports editor and writer for The Seattle Times for 11 years and has written two books on the Seattle Seahawks. Since leaving the Times, he has written about the Seahawks and Seattle sports for Bleacher Report and the blog he shares with a fellow sportswriter, outsidethepressbox.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com.