The NFL’s All-Decade teams matter. Those who make it practically have one foot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. For those who have a borderline HOF case, it can influence the voting.
On Monday, the NFL announced its All-Decade team for the 2010s. Aside from the strange desire to expand the teams beyond one player for each position — they don’t do that for first-team All-Pro teams, so why the All-Decade teams? — there were some curious additions and omissions.
Let’s take a look at the five takeaways from the team.
The disrespect for Drew Brees continues
First, here are the full teams:
Let’s start at quarterback. Tom Brady was the obvious pick. When we did our own team of the 2010s, it was clear that Drew Brees had an argument to be No. 1, even before Brady. Brees had 345 passing touchdowns in the 2010s. Nobody else had more than 316. Brees had 46,770 yards. Aaron Rodgers, who was the second quarterback on the All-Decade team, was seventh at 38,145. Brady has to be the pick as the decade’s top quarterback, but Brees was phenomenal, too.
Rodgers is great, of course, but the disrespect for Brees’ career continues. He has no MVP awards, which will look weird when we reflect back on the career of the all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns. And the fact that two quarterbacks were on the All-Decade team and neither one was Brees is hard to accept.
Rob Gronkowski wasn’t unanimous?
There were eight unanimous picks: quarterback Tom Brady, defensive tackle Aaron Donald, edge rusher Von Miller, running back Adrian Peterson, offensive tackle Joe Thomas, kicker Justin Tucker, defensive end J.J. Watt and offensive guard Marshal Yanda. It’s hard to argue with any of those.
It’s more interesting to look at a few players who didn’t get a unanimous selection. Luke Kuechly couldn’t have done much more. Richard Sherman was phenomenal over the decade, and with two different teams. I can’t tell you why Earl Thomas wasn’t unanimous. I think I know why Antonio Brown wasn’t unanimous, but off-field issues shouldn’t matter here.
But who didn’t vote for Rob Gronkowski?
There were a handful of easy picks for the team, and Gronk was one of them. He might have been the easiest All-Decade team pick, aside from maybe Watt. Gronkowski did it all. He had 79 touchdowns in the 2010s and only one other tight end had more than 57 (Jimmy Graham with 74). He had four first-team All-Pro selections and no other TE had more than two. It’s not like Gronkowski didn’t have postseason success either.
There are plenty of debatable things about a list like this, but the worst ballot for the NFL’s All-Decade team was the one (hopefully just one) that didn’t have Gronkowski on it.
The NFL’s All-Decade teams are bloated, presumably to avoid tough calls at positions like quarterback that should have only one player. But there’s no fullback at all.
It can be argued if fullback, which has much less importance in today’s game, should be included. If you include fullback, what about slot cornerback?
I guess no fullbacks played this decade...— Kyle Juszczyk (@JuiceCheck44) April 6, 2020
Darren Sproles makes it twice
Sproles is a fine player. He is fun and helped every team he was on.
Still, there was one player to make the NFL’s All-Decade team at two spots. And it’s odd Sproles was that player.
Sproles was one of the two punt returners on the team, and that’s deserved. Then, apparently in a nod to fantasy football, there is a “flex” position for the offense and Sproles got that too. The confusion about that position and the lack of definition is why Christian McCaffrey was the running back and flex on the 2019 All-Pro team and Derrick Henry didn’t get a spot at all. Nothing against Sproles, but if you’re adding any other running back, receiver or tight end who didn’t make the team, it’s not him.
Other snubs and gripes
Now that we’ve aired grievances, it’s time to acknowledge that the rest of the balloting was solid.
It’s much easier to pick an expanded team, but nobody who should have made it was left off other than perhaps Brees (and it’s not like Rodgers didn’t have a great case too). Among those who made it, nobody stands out as an obvious mistake other than Sproles in the flex spot.
The team isn’t perfect, but none of them is and this list is overall pretty good. And that’s great because a few Hall of Fame cases could ultimately swing as a result of the voting.
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