A rookie quarterback might face an uphill battle in Pro Bowl balloting, but Bruce Gradkowski could use your vote right now for a different honor
The 2007 Pro Bowl is still almost four months away, and the announcement of the AFC and NFC squads won't even take place until late December. With the season essentially on the line every week for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it's a good bet that the Bucs' Pro Bowl hopefuls are not devoting much thought to that issue here in October.
But you and I can. In fact, the voting for the 2007 Pro Bowl has just begun, and it's never too early to get a few pulls of the lever in for the Bucs you feel are deserving of a trip to Hawaii.
Each year, the Pro Bowl squads are determined by a three-way vote that combines the consensus opinions of players, coaches and fans in equal thirds, and fan voting is now underway on NFL.com. The ballot went live on Tuesday morning and will remain available through December 12. Players and coaches will cast their votes on December 14-15 and the teams will be announced on the NFL Network's NFL Total Access on Tuesday, December 19.
Ready to vote? Click here to go directly to the NFL.com Pro Bowl ballot.
Last year, three Buccaneers were chosen for the NFC Pro Bowl squad: cornerback Ronde Barber, punter Josh Bidwell and linebacker Derrick Brooks. Barber and Brooks were also Pro Bowlers after the 2004 season, and from 1997 through 2003 Tampa Bay never had fewer than four players selected to the annual all-star game. If Brooks is selected again this year, it will mark his 10th consecutive trip to the Pro Bowl.
Vote for Bruce!
You can, if you wish, take your time with your Pro Bowl vote, let the season develop a bit more before deciding who the true all-stars are. As mentioned, fan voting for the Pro Bowl continues through December 12.
If you want to help out Buccaneers rookie quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, however, you're going to have to move fast.
Gradkowski is one of five players up for this week's NFL Rookie of the Week award. Buccaneer fans are familiar with this voting process, having had numerous opportunities to get behind running back Cadillac Williams last season. Williams won the award in each of the first three weeks of the season and was also the eventual victor in the end-of-the-season voting for NFL Rookie of the Year.
This is Gradkowski's first appearance on the weekly list, and it comes courtesy of the come-from-behind, 14-13 win he directed against the Cincinnati Bengals last Sunday. In that contest, Gradkowski completed 25 of 44 passes for 184 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. His final completion of the day was an eight-yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Michael Clayton on fourth-and-three with 35 seconds left in the game. The Clayton TD completed a clutch 54-yard game-winning march.
Gradkowski's competition is steep, as he must try to pull votes away from his two fellow rookie QB starters, Arizona's Matt Leinart and Tennessee's Vince Young, as well as Chicago return man Devin Hester and Pittsburgh wide receiver Santonio Holmes. At the moment, Gradkowski is trailing in the voting, but the process continues through Thursday at 5:00 p.m.
If you'd like to cast your vote for the NFL Rookie of the Week, click here.