Bryant McKinnie is in the Pro Bowl. The Pro Bowl is Officially a Joke.

When the Pro Bowl rosters were finished being revealed Tuesday night, a league-high eight Vikings had learned they were invited to participate in the Miami festivities, which are scheduled this year to be held the week between the conference title games and the Super Bowl.

Among the selectees were such stars as Brett Favre, Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, Adrian Peterson and Steve Hutchinson, all guys who’ve made it multiple times.  Then there was first-time selection Heath Farwell, chosen as the NFC’s special teams player, and first-timer Sidney Rice, chosen for a break-out 1,000+ yard season at receiver.

And then there was the Vikings’ eighth selection, another first-timer:  left tackle Bryant McKinnie, who was chosen to start alongside teammate Hutchinson.  Yes, the same Bryant McKinnie who was pulled from a recent game because the coach got sick of watching him get torched.  The same Bryant McKinnie who, since he joined the Vikings as a high first-round draft pick in 2002, has been consistent only in his maddening underachievement and propensity for getting in trouble.

I think most Viking fans would join me in labeling McKinnie’s selection laughable.  Of course, everybody knows this selection has nothing to do with McKinnie’s performance relative to the other players at his position, and everything to do with the guys he lines up alongside.

First there’s Steve Hutchinson, whose arrival on the Vikings a few years ago had the inexplicable effect of making people talk about McKinnie like he was Walter Jones, the guy Hutch teamed with in Seattle to help make Shaun Alexander a superstar.  The idea, I guess, was that having Hutch alongside him would suddenly inspire McKinnie to improve his footwork, focus on every play and no longer transform into a giant immobile turd every time he lined up against a decent pass rushing end.

In fact, though Hutch continued to play at a high level (until this year when injuries began hampering him), McKinnie showed little noticeable improvement.  He remained pretty good as a run blocker, intermittently horrific as a pass blocker.

But Hutch’s rub-off effect alone wasn’t enough to trick people into thinking McKinnie deserved to be on the Pro Bowl team.  For that to happen, two more important elements would need to enter the mix:  a superstar running back and a mega-superstar quarterback.

Adrian Peterson took care of the superstar running back bit.  After the way he annihilated defenses his rookie season, it was inevitable that the guys who blocked for him would be raised in the esteem of Pro Bowl voters.  That’s just the way Pro Bowl voters work, you know.  Actually evaluating each individual guy is too much strain on the brain.  It’s much easier to look at the stats of one player and draw all sorts of possibly invalid conclusions.

AD ran over a few teams in his first year, therefore Bryant McKinnie is a good tackle.

Never mind the fact that, after defenses figured out the Vikings had no passing game and they could just stack the line all day, Peterson’s spectacular performances went away like your crappy friends after the waiter brings the check.

And then, of course, Brett Favre arrived on the scene, and the McKinnie Pro Bowl cauldron went from simmery to downright boily.

Favre’s ability to get throws off in rhythm and pick up blitzes before they get in his face had the natural effect of making it appear the offensive line was pass blocking a lot better for him than for Tarvaris Jackson, Gus Frerotte and the rest of those guys.  Even so, there were games where McKinnie and the rest of the so-so line reverted to its old form, notably the Cardinals game, and even more notably the Carolina game, where Julius Peppers practically reduced McKinnie to tears.

But by the time those two awful performances rolled around, the league had already made up its mind that McKinnie deserved to be elevated from borderline to definite Pro Bowler.  And not just as a reserve either.  As a starter.

Brad Childress isn’t the only one who owes Brett Favre a gigantic debt of gratitude.

I will give the clueless Pro Bowl voters this at least:  they have found a way to make me watch the game.  I haven’t seen a Pro Bowl in ten years but I will be riveted to my screen this year, to see how bad McKinnie gets undressed by the AFC defensive ends.  And I will laugh when the coach yanks him from the game.  Because that’s what you do when you see or hear a joke.  You laugh.

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Tags: Adrian Peterson Brett Favre Bryant Mckinnie Gus Frerotte Heath Farwell Jared Allen Kevin Williams Minnesota Vikings Sidney Rice Steve Hutchinson Tarvaris Jackson

  • Mike

    McKinnie is not that bad. Moreover, the NY Times had a good article last week about the lack of any good left tackles in the entire NFC.

  • lorenzo4

    So I guess you would call it The Giant Immobile Turd Bowl, then, right? I like it. Catchy.

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  • scott fancher

    Stop hating….look around the league at the other left tackles and I guarantee most would consider McKinnie an upgrade. He also hasn’t been in trouble since the Miami incident and happens to do a lot of charity work in Minnesota so please find something else to whine about.

  • common sense

    McKinnie may not be the greatest, but the only “joke” is this site claiming it supports the Vikings.

  • lorenzo4

    On a positive note, I was absolutely thrilled to see Sydney make it to the Pro Bowl. Now that is something special…first time…and he totally deserved it…and there’s was alot of competition for that position.
    As for the negativity…you know, I find some kind of weird solace in Danzinski’s dark humor….he makes me laugh….and we must definitely maintain a sense of humor considering how the Vikes have played 3 of their last 4 games.
    I happen to be a big fan of negativity…sometimes it can effect positive change…whereas denial in the face of actual facts accomplishes no change.

  • joe

    lorenzo4 – are you saying that you agree that “chilly-ball” is bogus and handing it off to “three-and-out-if-he-hangs-onto-the-ball” peterson is a recipe for “one-and-out” in the playoffs?

    The negativity here has bashed Favre too much, he’s the only reason they are in the playoffs and, because of chilly and peterson, they may be playing in the wildcat round this year.

    Not likely the will make the superbowl if that happens. They should have been the #1 seed, but moron chilly wants to be the big-shot and has tied Favre’s hands. Also, AD can’t hold on to the ball – he will drop it in the clutch in the playoffs at least once too.

    He is not the superstar that many have anointed him as. Worse still – at this level, probably can’t teach him to hold on to the ball – its how he runs. Need to trade him while can get something for him, but options might be limited.

  • Mike

    Peterson just needs schooling to carry the ball with two hands and go down if in the grasp. He obviously can’t be trusted with a pass. But Peterson is the best decoy in the NFL often drawing 8 and even 9 in the box. The Vikings need him to take the pressure off Favre. But they must disguise run versus pass better than they did against the Cards and Panthers.

  • joe

    Peterson is 24 years old – which is young by most standards, but is middle age for a running back in the NFL where the average career is 2.6 years!

    His running style is to carry the ball like a loaf of bread – sure, Walter Payton did it, but AD is no Walter Payton.

    Not likely AD re-learns how to carry the ball with 2 hands and is still the running back some think he has potential to be.

  • lorenzo4

    Joe, to answer your question yes, I agree with Chilly ball is bogus, hand keys to Favre.
    Am I missing something…I thought Danz has been super positive about Favre since week 3 or 4 or whatever. No? (I personally am a long-time Favre fan, followed him for 8 yrs with Pack then suffered thru the Jets year, then Minn.)
    Funny thing about Danz is he had a pretty big audience during the late summer when he was a Favre Hater and he lost alot of people (including me). I think that was a real shame because Danz is a very entertaining (and perceptive writer). And funny. And give him credit for making that turnaround on Favre.