Barber Wins Fan Vote

Ronde Barber could be going to the Pro Bowl in his first season as a safety.  NFL fans, at least, think that he should be.

Each year, the AFC and NFC Pro Bowl squads are selected using a three-pronged process that combines the consensus votes of fans, players and coaches.  The fan voting, which primarily takes place on NFL.com, is the lengthiest part of that process, as the online balloting option is open for roughly two months.

That voting ended on Monday, however, and on Thursday the NFL released the final results of the fans’ efforts, at least in terms of the leading vote-getters at each position and the top 10 vote-getters overall.  Receiving the most votes at free safety in the NFC was Barber, the Buccaneers’ ageless 16th-year veteran who only this year converted to the position from cornerback.

The leading NFC vote-getter at strong safety was Green Bay’s Charles Woodson, which would make a very fitting pairing for the NFC in the all-star game.  Barber and Woodson are two of the longest-tenured players in the entire NFL – Barber was drafted by the Buccaneers in 1997, Woodson by the Raiders in 1998 – and both established themselves as star-caliber corners before moving to the back end of the secondary in 2012.  Woodson has been to eight Pro Bowls already, Barber to five.

Players and coaches around the NFL are filling out their ballots this week; Buccaneer players, for instance, will gather to do so after their last team meetings on Thursday.  As always, defensive players vote for players on the offensive side, and vice versa, and players and coaches are not allowed to vote for players on their own teams.

The Pro Bowl rosters will be announced next Wednesday, Dec. 26, on NFL Network’s “NFL Total Access Pro Bowl Selection Show,” airing at 7:00 p.m. ET.  Buccaneers.com will reveal any Buccaneer selections to the NFC squad at that same time.  The Pro Bowl will played on Sunday, January 27, 2013 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii, one week before the Super Bowl.

As usual, the top 10 overall vote-getters were almost exclusively quarterbacks and running backs.  They were, in order, Denver QB Peyton Manning, New England QB Tom Brady, Houston RB Arian Foster, Minnesota RB Adrian Peterson, Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers, Washington QB Robert Griffin III, Cincinnati WR A.J. Green, New England TE Rob Gronkowski, New Orleans QB Drew Brees and Baltimore RB Ray Rice.

As for the individual positions, only the top vote-getter is listed even though most of the positions send several players to the all-star game.  For instance, while the Giants’ Victor Cruz was the fans’ top choice at NFC wide receiver, a total of four wideouts will represent the conference in the Pro Bowl.

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