The Pro Bowl ballot included plenty of players. The name “Jason Pierre-Paul” wasn’t among them. Which means that, of the 33 percent of the voting based on the input of the fans, Pierre-Paul was at a major disadvantage.
And yet he still made the NFC team, thanks to the votes from the players and coaches.
Pierre-Paul, a first-round pick in 2010 viewed as a multi-year project, has had a major impact in his second NFL season. He’ll be the understudy to Vikings defensive end Jared Allen and Eagles defensive end Jason Babin.
The rest of the starting defense for the NFC consists of 49ers defensive lineman Justin Smith, Cowboys defensive lineman Jay Ratliff, Cowboys outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware, Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews, 49ers inside linebacker Patrick Willis, Packers cornerback Charles Woodson, 49ers cornerback Carlos Rogers, Seahawks safety Earl Thomas, and Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson.
The offensive starters for the NFC are quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Eagles running back LeSean McCoy, Packers fullback John Kuhn, Lions receiver Calvin Johnson, Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Saints tight end Jimmy Graham, Eagles tackle Jason Peters, 49ers tackle Joe Staley, Saints guards Carl Nicks and Jahri Evans, and Panthers center Ryan Kalil.
The specialists are 49ers kicker David Akers, 49ers punter Andy Lee, Cardinals kick returner Patrick Peterson, and Bears special-teamer Corey Graham.
The backups are Saints quarterback Drew Brees, Giants quarterback Eli Manning, Bears running back Matt Forte, 49ers running back Frank Gore, Panthers receiver Steve Smith, Packers receiver Greg Jennings, Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez, Saints tackle Jermon Bushrod, Buccaneers guard Davin Joseph, Packers center Scott Wells, Packers nose tackle B.J. Raji, Bears linebackers Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher, Bears cornerback Charles Tillman, and 49ers safety Dashon Goldson.
Notable omissions from the NFC team include Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, and Giants receiver Victor Cruz. Though Peterson missed a couple of games with an ankle injury, Forte played in only 12 games.
Also, the fact that 49ers rookie Aldon Smith is technically a linebacker should have propelled him past Clay Matthews, who hasn’t been as dominant in 2011 as he was a year ago.
The fact that rookie Patrick Peterson jumped Devin Hester for the kick returner role will raise some eyebrows, too, as will the absence of Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford.