SBD/Issue 49/Franchises

Redskins Fans, Spurred By Ads, Voting En Masse For Pro Bowl

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Due to an "aggressive marketing campaign by the team's front office," Redskins fans have "turned Pro Bowl Internet voting into a tidal wave of burgundy and gold," according to Chris Chase of YAHOO SPORTS. The club is running a series of "Vote the Redskins Ticket" ads, including one featuring Redskins radio announcers and Pro Football HOFers Sonny Jurgensen and Sam Huff, encouraging fans to "vote early and often" for Redskins players for the Pro Bowl. The team as of Tuesday had "four of the top 10 vote-getters in the NFC" and had players leading at a "staggering 21 positions of the 26 possible starting positions" in fan Pro Bowl balloting. Chase noted while some of the players leading the voting are "good enough to play in Hawaii," such as RB Clinton Portis, there are also "other, uh, less-worthy members of the Redskins are current leading" at their positions. However, fan votes only "make up one-third of the Pro Bowl criteria, so don't expect to see all those Redskins in Honolulu" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/19). Redskins P Ryan Plackemeier, who was leading the balloting at his position, said, "It's nice to be, I guess, liked by the fans. ... Usually as players, when we vote on it, we just pick the highest average guys in the league and obviously I'm not up there." But Plackemeier added "it all evens out" when the vote from other players and coaches is included (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 11/19). ESPN’s Michael Wilbon noted the Redskins' campaign "has been so effective, the NFL took notice and raised the issue in an e-mail to all 32 teams recently” ("PTI," ESPN, 11/20).

MAKING A MOCKERY OF THE SYSTEM? In New Orleans, David Gladow writes due to the "formula the NFL currently uses, some of the players' leads will be nearly insurmountable for other players to overcome, whether the coaches or players vote for those players or not." The situation is "ridiculous, and it calls to attention the problem inherent in letting the fans decide who actually gets to go" to the Pro Bowl (NOLA.com, 10/20). ESPN’s Mark Schlereth said the Redskins’ campaign is "why fans should not be allowed to vote for the Pro Bowl.” Schlereth: “I wouldn’t even let players vote. I would keep it at (GMs) and coaches” (“NFL Live,” ESPN, 11/20). ESPN’s Kevin Blackistone: “Fans are turning it into a mockery of voting here. ... Let’s not turn it into a joke like this. Guys actually make extra money off of going to the Pro Bowl and that makes a big difference.” Former Chicago Sun-Times columnist Jay Mariotti said, “If I could just be assured it was people who knew what they were doing and not (Redskins Owner) Dan Snyder and his people back there stuffing ballot boxes, like the old Cincinnati Reds back in the old days, I’d have no problem with it. But it’s fun and I think in the end, the actual, realistic players are going to make (the Pro Bowl).” Denver Post columnist Woody Paige: “If the Washington Redskins are smart enough to figure out how to manipulate the system, I’m all for them. Who’s voting in Houston or Tampa Bay?” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 11/20). ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser: “If it's just coaches (voting), they're prejudiced. If it's just players, they're prejudiced. If it's just fans, they're prejudiced. Get rid of the Pro Bowl. ... It’s a junky game” (“PTI,” ESPN, 11/20).

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