Pro Bowl voting is never exact, but John Kasay and DeAngelo Williams deserved to make the NFC team just announced today but didn't. (To see full lists of the teams, click here).
The Panthers did get OT Jordan Gross and DE Julius Peppers in as starters and WR Steve Smith and LB Jon Beason as reserves (Beason and Smith probably deserved to start, too, but that doesn't really matter -- you either go or you don't. Everyone plays about the same amount once you get there).
Williams leads the league in TDs and has been the best back in the NFL for the past month. But Williams also had the misfortune of being in a back-heavy conference -- Minnesota's Adrian Peterson, Atlanta's Michael Turner and Washington's Clinton Portis had very strong cases as well. All of them have rushed for at least 100 more yards than DeAngelo (who has 1,229). I would have picked DeAngelo over Portis in a reserve spot because DeAngelo has had such a strong second half of the year and the Redskins -- as well as Portis -- have been fading.
When I talked to Williams about this Sunday night, he seemed almost resigned to not making it. He also said the vote was a "popularity contest," which is somewhat true (especially the fact that the fans vote counts for 1/3 -- that may have pushed Portis ahead of DeAngelo). Williams also said he didn't care about the results as long as the team does well.
As for Kasay, I think he's had the best year for a kicker in the NFL, bar none. Making 24-of-25, never missing from under 50 yards -- that's amazing. But the Giants' John Carney got it instead. And believe me, Kasay cares about this even less than DeAngelo. His life is centered around God, family and team. He honestly cares nothing about individual awards.
They're not the only ones in the NFL who got robbed, of course. Many NFL teams would be able to think of someone on their roster who could have made it but didn't. Atlanta DE John Abraham didn't make it, for instance, and I think he definitely should have.
As for Peppers, Smith, Gross and Beason, they are all deserving. At least the Panthers (11-3) got a reasonable number of Pro Bowlers in this very special year they are having -- four is a lot better than the zero they had in 2007.
And you never know with DeAngelo. He's the first alternate. So if only one of those backs gets hurt -- and that's always very possible at that position -- he could be a late addition to Honolulu. (Not Kasay, though -- kickers only get hurt about once in a blue moon).