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Winning is what matters


This is going to be another one of those Pro Bowl columns, but not the kind you might expect. In fact, this Pro Bowl column is more like an anti-Pro Bowl column.

The past few weeks have seen a feverish campaign effort by the Jaguars and friends of Fred and David to get those two guys elected to the Pro Bowl. The campaign has been especially intense as it pertains to Fred Taylor, who may be the best player to never make a Pro Bowl. If I had it my way, I'd put three on his resume right now: 1998, 2000 and '03. He was most deserving in each of those three seasons.

In a year in which he has eclipsed the 10,000-yard mark and is in a late-season 100-yard streak, Taylor is deserving again, but not so much for what he's done this season as much as what he's done in his career. At least, that's the way I see it.

Garrard is a newbie. He's fresh on the scene this year and he very well may be the best new starting quarterback in the game. I'll tell you this: Garrard is, without a doubt, the "new" player in the AFC who made the biggest difference this season. In the NFC, it's Adrian Peterson. In the AFC, I'll rest with Garrard.

Ironically, two of Taylor's and Garrard's chief competitors for selection to the Pro Bowl are the Steelers' Willie Parker and Ben Roethlisberger, against whom Taylor and Garrard will play this Sunday. Hey, that's pretty interesting stuff.

My problem is that I think we've become too consumed by all of this. My concern is that all of our stumping could turn out to be another one of those we-don't-get-no-respect embarrassments.

Player voting happens on Thursday. Then that's it. No more. It's done.

At that point, the campaign speeches and impassioned appeals must end because, frankly, it's making these guys marked men. Frankly, I think this team – This is all about team, isn't it? – would be better served by cruising into Pittsburgh this weekend with a lower profile. You know, there's a chance the Jaguars may have to go back there in January.

My concern is born of the fact that I think we all may have had a little too much fun with all of this on Wednesday. Fred was fantastic with the media. He's been great for a long time. He's one of my two favorite Jaguars and he knows that.

Anyhow, Fred was joking with us, telling us how he voted for himself 10 times in fan balloting, and when we asked him if you're allowed to do that, he shot back: "Why not? This is Florida."

Is that beautiful or what? I love this guy, and that's one of the reasons I'm protective of him. I don't want him to get hurt by all of this. If he gets the nod, I want it to be absolutely legit, and not the result of campaigning.

I think it's time we all let this go and let Fred and David focus on the more important task at hand, which is getting this team into the playoffs.

"Those are individual things. I'm most concerned with trying to find ways to win games," coach Jack Del Rio said when hit with another one of those Pro Bowl questions.

The concern on his face was distinct.

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