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NFL Pro Bowl 2016: Where everyone gets a trophy

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In the midst of an American culture slowly careening towards an "everyone is a winner" attitude, the NFL's All Star game is joining the masses, as a record number of players were named to the Pro Bowl this season.

Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

When debating the best players of a generation, or one guy's Hall of Fame resume versus another, it seems the announcement of how many Pro Bowls a player made it to has always carried some weight. It signified longevity, prolonged dominance and a comparison point against other players of their generation.

In 2016, however, it's time to put the "honor" of making a Pro Bowl to death.

In 2009, the NFL set a record by having 119 players either voted into the Pro Bowl or added as an alternate — 33 more than the number of players that actually participate in the game. This season, however, a new record has been born with 133 players receiving the "honor" after 47 (or more than half) of the initial vote-getters are unable (or uninterested) in participating.

The list now includes Teddy Bridgewater and Jameis Winston, as the both conferences were required to replace just about every quarterback on the roster. Bridgewater finished the season with 14 passing touchdowns — tied for 26th in the league, just ahead of Josh McCown, Blaine Gabbert and Brock Osweiler. Winston, on the other hand, finished with a QB Rating of 84.2, which was good for 28th, just behind Gabbert and Osweiler among others.

And yet, for the rest of their lives, Bridgewater and Winston will be called "former Pro-Bowlers".

To be fair, even the Raiders were beneficiaries of the expanded rosters.

Amari Cooper finished 20th in the league in receiving yards, 33rd in receptions and 41st in receiving touchdowns (not to mention second in drops) — and yet somehow that all added up to an inclusion in the all-star game. Latavius Murray was another beneficiary — almost by default as one of the few backs in the league to stay healthy this season. He finished 6th in rushing yards and 12th in rushing touchdowns, but a 4.0 YPA is pretty meager for a guy recognized as one of the best running backs in the league.

Of course, of all the all-star games across sports, the Pro Bowl has always been the laughing stock. It's at the end of the season when people have checked out, it's not even real football, etc. — but saying you were a Pro-Bowler has always still meant something.

In 2016, it's time to put that notion to rest. When half the guys chosen opt-out and one out of every 10-15 guys in the league gets invited, I think it's safe to say we've reached "everyone-gets-a-trophy-land".