The NFL has taken a more subtle approach (for a change) to its P.R. efforts regarding the rookie wage scale, a genuinely-needed adjustment to the system for which the NFL Players Association undoubtedly is seeking significant concessions, even though reform of the current windfall approach to paying players the top of the draft is in the best interests of the members of the union.
In an item posted at NFLLabor.com, the website specifically created and maintained by the league for the purposes of crafting public opinion regarding the ongoing labor drama (the union has one, too), the NFL points out that the average experience of the 2010 Pro Bowlers is 6.8 years. Also, more than 83 percent of the Pro Bowlers have at least four years of experience.
The newly-minted AFC and NFC Pro Bowl squads include only four rookies.
The league’s unspoken message (but for the presence of the phrase “money players” in the title to the blurb) is that the best players in the league are the proven, experienced players, and thus that they’re the ones who should be getting the money, not the first-year players who, despite the hype they generate, rarely become impact players in the first year of their careers.
Of course, one of the flaws in this theory is that more than a few players earned their Pro Bowl berths not in the current season but in past ones, and that they’ve qualified for the team based only on reputation. (Ravens safety Ed Reed spent the first six weeks of the regular season on the PUP list, for example, but he qualified for the Pro Bowl.)
Still, the combined fan, player, and coach voting demonstrates that the best players in the NFL are the ones who have played in the NFL for more than a few years. Even if the bulk of the veteran Pro Bowlers were once first-round picks, for every first-rounder who becomes a perennial Pro Bowler, we can show you a first-rounder who currently has a better shot at becoming a professional bowler.