Lions have bigger fish to fry than worrying about Pro Bowl snubs

Posted Dec 28, 2011

Less than one day after learning that only one of his players (WR Calvin Johnson) was invited to the Pro Bowl, Lions coach Jim Schwartz said Wednesday that both he and his players had bigger fish to fry than worrying about snubs and all-star games.

“I mean, we’re playing games, we’re not trying to win contests or polls or power ratings, or Miss Congeniality,” Schwartz said. “Anything somebody’s voting on or judging really isn’t real high on our radar. We like to play 60 minutes and when there’s a tie-breaker based on how many Pro Bowlers you have, then we’ll worry about that.”

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was certainly deserving of a Pro Bowl nomination, but instead finished as the third alternate. Like his coach, Stafford said he was more worried about the Packers and an upcoming playoff run than lamenting the fact that he isn't going to the Pro Bowl.

He even had a sense of humor about being left off the team.

“Hopefully, I’m busy that weekend anyway,” he said with a smile. “I’m not too worried about that. I’m more worried about this game coming up and our team's future.”

The Lions need a win against the Packers on Sunday to secure the No. 5 seed in the playoffs. That, more than individual accolades, seems to be on the mind of most everyone in the locker room.

“I was on a team that made the AFC Championship in 2002 with zero Pro-Bowlers,” Schwartz said. “Aaron Rodgers, last year, didn’t make the Pro-Bowl, okay? I’d rather be playing than going to the Pro Bowl.”

But that doesn’t mean the lack of respect can’t be fuel for some players, according to Stafford.

“I think this will be some motivation for some guys for sure,” Stafford said. “I think we’re just still proving ourselves of doing a good job of staying together as a team."

Like Stafford, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh will also be an alternate for the Pro Bowl.

But unlike Stafford, who's still looking for his first Pro-Bowl nod, Suh was the leading vote-getter among defensive tackles last year as a rookie and was also voted an All-Pro.

“For me personally, I’ll just focus on Green Bay,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing. It’s the next biggest task at hand. Going 11-5 and to the playoffs.”

Suh was asked, though, if it hurt his professional pride that he wasn’t voted in.

“You should always strive to be the best and one of that is being a pro-bowler, being an all-pro guy,” he said.

“At least for myself I always want to strive for the best. Having one of those things next to my name is a good thing and like I said, it wasn’t my year. Maybe it was some other guys year this year. I remember Aaron Rodgers wasn’t in the Pro Bowl last year and they were Super Bowl champions.”

That’s something that wasn’t lost on Stafford, either.

“It would sure be nice for us as a team to let all three of those guys play in (the Pro Bowl) and be doing something else that weekend,” said Stafford of the three quarterbacks voted to the Pro Bowl.

Stafford would much rather be getting ready to play in the Super Bowl the following week, anyway.