Roman Harper's Pro Bowl Trip Makes Me Sad

NEW ORLEANS - SEPTEMBER 09: Quarterback Brett Favre #4 of the Minnesota Vikings lies on the turf after taking a hard hit from Roman Harper #41 of the New Orleans Saints at Louisiana Superdome on September 9 2010 in New Orleans Louisiana. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Before I go on my tirade, let me set the record straight: I like Roman Harper.

I think he is a solid starting strong safety in the National Football League and I would like for the Saints to spend some money this offseason to re-sign him. He has some limitations and positives like most athletes. I think the positives mostly outweigh the negatives. I think he's shown a tremendous amount of improvement over the last two seasons and I believe he still has room to grow. Most of you know I take time to grade each player individually by now, and you should also know that Harper graded out better than any other defensive player through the 16 regular season games this year.

If you consider his body of work this season, he had a very solid year. While his pass catching ability is atrocious and his coverage skills are poor, I disagree with the many of you that assert he's got poor tackling technique. He's one of the best tacklers on the team. Sure, he missed some tackles this season like everyone else. So did Will Smith. So did Jonathan Vilma. So did Ray Lewis. The best players miss tackles. Roman Harper was consistently around the box all season long tackling guys twice his size. The guy is a playmaker in a different way than Darren Sharper but he's still a playmaker.

Further, I was asked to name my All Pro selections on a different blogging network, and I nominated Roman Harper as the strong safety over Troy Polamalu. That's right. While that was a total homer choice that had no reasonable defense, I justified it with the thought that Harper was the best player through 16 games on the 4th best defense in the NFL.

So when I say that Harper has no place in the Pro Bowl, do me a favor and don't dismiss me as a hater. But that's how I feel, Harper shouldn't be in that game. And it's less about him deserving it vs. not deserving it, and more about it being unfair.

Harper had his chance to show his stuff on the biggest stage and he whiffed. Still like the guy, still want him on my team; but he choked in epic fashion. He single handedly allowed the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks to embarrass the Saints' fourth ranked defense, which ultimately sent the Saints packing. On the biggest stage of the season he laid the biggest egg.

He's also responsible for numerous gray hairs that have trickled into my hairdo. Thank God I still don't quite look 57 without a helmet on like he does. Don't tell me you're still not the slightest bit bitter about his performance. And now, we all get rewarded by watching him play in a game that's supposed to showcase the NFL's elite players. When I heard the announcement he was going, I was excited for him for about a split second until I realized he'd have to sit through being victimized by Antonio Gates catching a touchdown pass from Peyton Manning.

The Pro Bowl is a joke. Too many players are too banged up to play in this game anyway. The defenses never try. There's the risk of injury to your most valuable players. By the time you get to kickoff, there's so many alternates and subs that the quality of the players is completely diluted. And now I have to watch Roman Harper trot out with the "NFC's best." Yuck.

I'm sorry, but for Harper to make the Pro Bowl and play on this stage of "superstars" after the performance he turned in in the playoffs is just disgusting. It's almost like one final insult on this disappointing season. I can just hear some random guy - likely a Falcon fan who probably loves Communism - while running Pro Bowl replacement selections, saying: "Hey, Roman Harper ruined your season so now we're going to praise him publicly!"

I just wish Harper could fade into the sunset, quietly get better in the offseason, and come back next year hungrier and better. Instead, I have to be insulted into accepting that the man who I consider most responsible for the Saints not playing anymore is the best strong safety the NFC has to offer (only because, of course, the best strong safety is going to the Super Bowl so he can't play). It may even be true, but I just don't want to see the guy playing with all-stars right now. The fact that he gets to end his season on a high note, getting ultimate praise while we're all subjected as fans to rooting for the Packers is just sickening. 

Don't tell me a small part of you doesn't feel the same way.

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