FOXBOROUGH – Where is Rodney Harrison when you need him?
The Pro Bowl voting results are in and the New England Patriots, which most Las Vegas bookmakers have as the No. 2 pick to win the Super Bowl, got shafted.
At least compared to the NFL’s “Flavor of the Month,” the Baltimore Ravens, which had 23 percent of its roster – 12 players! – receiving all-star honors.
Only three Patriots players were named: Stephon Gilmore, Dont’a Hightower and, of course, Mr. Pro Bowl himself, Matthew Slater.
Six other teams, including have more than the Patriots and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Chicago Bears, both 7-7 and virtually no chance of January football, have three representatives as the Patriots do.
This would be about the time the Harrison would storm away from a media session, saying nobody respects the Patriots and its players not named Tom Brady.
We could make valid arguments for a few more Patriots players, particularly from the No. 1 defense in the NFL:
Safety Devin McCourty, who is tied for second in interceptions (5).
Linebacker Jamie Collins, who is one of the most complete two-way linebackers in the game in terms of rushing the passer (sacks) and defending the pass (10 passes defended, 3 interceptions).
Cornerback Jonathan Jones, arguably the best slot cornerback in the NFL the last two seasons.
And, my personal favorite on defense, Kyle Van Noy, who doesn’t have the big stats but he makes as many plays as any guy going to Hawaii.
But the biggest gaffe by voters – fans, players and media – was leaving off future Hall of Famer Julian Edelman.
This was his time. No Rob Gronkowski. No premiere wide receiver. We would see how good Edelman really was without the supporting cast around him.
His numbers: 92 receptions, 1,019 yards and six touchdowns are on pace to be the best of his career.
The 92 receptions rank third among receivers.
And, remember, he isn’t a one-trick pony. This is six years of work after four years of being Wes Welker’s understudy.
If not for missing six games due to injuries in 2015 and the four-game suspension last year, he would be “averaging” over 100 receptions and over 1,000 yards.
But back to the point at hand, Edelman has carried this struggling offense from Day 1, battling consistent double coverage, a rarity for slot receivers, yet still producing elite stats.
As for the guys chosen ahead of him – DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans; Keenan Allen, L.A. Chargers; Jarvis Landry, Cleveland Browns; and Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs – the only guy better than him on this list, this year, was Hopkins.
Allen, Landry and Hill are all great talents. But guess what? Who would you take in a big game, say an AFC Championship?
Allen and Landry have never been to one and probably never will. And Hill? He had one reception for 42 yards last January against the Patriots compared to Edelman’s seven receptions for 96 yards.
I’m not a big “all-star” guy. The awards are nice, especially for the home team, but in the end they are forgotten.
But this – six straight years of elite production and six straight years of no Pro Bowl berth – is wrong.
After another AFC Championship game in which Edelman was dominant – eight receptions for 118 yards and a touchdown – Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders said Edelman doesn’t get the respect he deserves around the NFL because he is white.
“I’m going the say this, you can run with it, they can say what they want — it’s like reverse racism,” Sanders said. “I’m not lying. This is real talk. Julian Edelman, just because he is a Caucasian receiver, they don’t give him the credit that he deserves. He deserves so much more.”
That was three years ago. He’s won two Super Bowls and a Super Bowl MVP since.
Playing the “slot” doesn’t get the respect is should, particularly in this offense. The punishment he takes is unmatched among the wide receivers.
But maybe something even bigger at stake: “Patriot Fatigue.”
In the end, this could be more fuel. Remember last year’s playoff run when Edelman was shouting at Brady on the sidelines, “You’re too old! You’re too old!”
Now it’s Edelman’s turn.
He’s too old! He’s not good enough!
You can email Bill Burt at firstname.lastname@example.org.