Aaron Rodgers did not make the Pro Bowl. Michael Vick, Drew Brees and Matt Ryan all made it instead.

That’s not the egregious part, as that trio is certainly deserving of the honor. The egregious part is that Rodgers led his conference in quarterback rating (101.9) and couldn’t make it. The one cumulative statistic we use to judge quarterback play lists Aaron Rodgers as the NFC’s best, and he can’t make the Pro Bowl?

How many times since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 has a quarterback led his conference in QB rating and failed to make the Pro Bowl team (minimum 14 games)? The answer is seven. That’s 40 years, 80 Pro Bowl teams and seven snubs, including Mr. Rodgers. If you lead your conference in QB rating, you have a 92.5 percent chance of making the Pro Bowl. Aaron Rodgers landed in the other 7.5 percent. Here are the other six since 1970, in order of QB rating:

No. 6 John Hadl, 1970

Hadl was the first in the merger era. The Chargers QB had a 77.1 QB rating -- 0.6 points better than Oakland’s Daryle Lamonica -- and threw for 2,388 yards and 22 touchdowns. (That TD total tied Lamonica for tops in the AFC and only ranked two back of San Francisco’s John Brodie in all of football.) The only reasonable explanation for why Hadl was left off the Pro Bowl team for Miami’s Bob Griese and Kansas City’s Len Dawson was that 1970 was Hadl’s first season in the NFL (after eight in the AFL) and perhaps the voters weren’t familiar with him or didn’t want an AFL guy to make the Pro Bowl in his first year in the NFL. But any statistical explanation would be bogus. Griese threw for 370 fewer yards and 10 fewer TDs than Hadl while throwing two more picks, and Dawson threw 510 fewer yards than Hadl while throwing more interceptions (14) than touchdowns (13). And all Hadl has to show for it is the cruel realization that he’s the first NFL quarterback to lead his conference in the all-encompassing QB rating stat and not be elected to the Pro Bowl.

No. 5 Greg Landry, 1976

Landry of the Lions had an 89.6 QB rating, or 0.3 points better than the Vikings’ Fran Tarkenton in the NFC, but his case is one of the weaker ones. Tarkenton and the Cardinals’ Jim Hart both had better seasons than Landry. Roger Staubach of the Cowboys also represented the NFC despite having a QB rating of 79.9. Staubach threw for nearly 40 more yards per game than Landry, however. The fact that Staubach’s Cowboys won five more games than Landry’s Lions also probably had something to do with it.

No. 4 Roger Staubach, 1973

Speaking of Staubach, he was left off the NFC Pro Bowl squad after putting up a 94.6 QB rating in the ’73 season. Tarkenton (93.2) and Hart (80.0) went instead. Staubach didn’t hurt for Pro Bowls. He made six of them in his career, including five consecutive from ’75-’79. But why Hart got the nod over him in ’73 -- despite having fewer yards, fewer TDs, a lower QB rating and completing 7 percent less of his passes -- remains a mystery.

No. 3 Steve Bartkowski, 1983

Atlanta’s Bartkowski comes in next on the list, as his 97.6 QB rating in ’83 barely nudged out Joe Theismann’s 97.0 rating. Neither of them went to the Pro Bowl that year, however. Joe Montana of the San Francisco 49ers (94.6 QB rating) and Neil Lomax of the St. Louis Cardinals (92.0 QB rating) represented the NFC in Honolulu.

No. 2 Phil Simms, 1990

Simms played 14 games for the New York Giants in 1990, and his 92.7 QB rating beat out Randall Cunningham’s 91.6 and Joe Montana’s 89.0 for best in the NFC. Simms ranked second to Montana in completion percentage, but he ranked only 11th out of 14 NFC quarterbacks in pass attempts. Head coach Bill Parcells pounded the ball behind running back Ottis Anderson, and the Giants ranked second in the NFL in rushing attempts on their way to winning the Super Bowl. Combine that with a defense led by Lawrence Taylor, and Simms became somewhat overlooked. (Simms also broke his foot late in the season and missed the playoffs.)

No. 1 Chad Pennington, 2002

Poor Chad. Pennington played 15 games, starting 12, for the New York Jets in 2002 and posted an impressive 104.2 QB rating. Rich Gannon of the Oakland Raiders ranked second in the AFC at 97.3. Pennington also led the conference in completion percentage (68.9) while throwing for 3,120 yards and 22 TDs. What hurt Pennington was that he didn’t steal the starting job from a struggling Vinny Testaverde until the fifth game of the season. Although he took the Jets from 1-4 to 9-7 and an AFC East title, voters didn’t feel Pennington’s numbers were better than the gaudy stats of Gannon, Peyton Manning and others.

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If you’re a wide receiver in the NFL, you spend 90 percent of the game running up and down the sidelines, sometimes for no reason at all. Your quarterback might not even be looking for you half the time. But when he does, it’s your job to do something with it. These guys all capitalized on their one chance when it really mattered. Here are the greatest one-catch performances in NFL history.

No. 5 Brandon Stokley

Week 1, 2009. Cincinnati led by one with just under a minute left. Denver had the ball on its own 13-yard line. Second and 10. What happened next was equal parts ridiculous and completely preventable. Not only was it Stokley’s only catch of the day, it was the only touchdown pass in the game. And it should have never happened, as safety Roy Williams pointlessly tackled Broncos receiver Brandon Marshall instead of going for the ball. Not surprising that this happened to the Bengals, but they ended up winning the AFC North and went to the playoffs for just the third time in 19 seasons.

No. 4 Eddie Bell

Oct. 22, 1972. The Jets were down three in the fourth quarter when Joe Namath produced another startling defeat of the Baltimore Colts. This time, his weapon was a ninth-round draft pick named Eddie Bell, a 5-10 receiver from Idaho State. Namath completed just five passes all day but two were touchdowns, including the winner to Bell on an 83-yarder. Bell played six seasons in the NFL, hauling in 118 catches for 1,774 yards
and 12 touchdowns. His birthday is Sept. 13 -- the same date as the Stokley catch.

No. 3 Cedric Tillman

Dec. 6, 1992. Another Bronco cracks the list, only this time in a losing effort. Facing the 11-2 Cowboys, the Broncos were 7-6 and fighting to stay alive in the AFC playoff race. Down by four in the fourth quarter, Tillman -- an 11th-round pick from Alcorn State -- caught an 81-yard touchdown pass from fellow receiver Arthur Marshall to give the Broncos a 27-24 lead. But then Emmitt Smith punched in the winning touchdown from three yards out for a 31-27 Dallas win. The Broncos missed the playoffs. Tillman played three seasons with Denver and one with the expansion Jaguars in 1995. He finished his career with 87 receptions, 1,227 yards and seven touchdowns.

No. 2 Percy Howard

Super Bowl X. Howard's story is astonishing. He played basketball only at Austin Peay. He made the Cowboys roster in training camp in 1975 and his only statistical contributions during the regular season were two kickoff returns totaling 51 yards. But late in Super Bowl X, with the Steelers up 21-10, Howard found himself on the field when one of the Cowboys’ top receivers, Golden Richards, broke a rib. And on the first play after the two-minute warning, Roger Staubach threw a 34-yard strike to a wide-open Howard in the left corner of the end zone. The touchdown -- the only reception of Howard's career -- got the Cowboys within four and gave them a chance to win when Pittsburgh turned the ball over on downs with 1:22 left in the game. Staubach’s last two throws were incomplete passes in the end zone intended for Howard, who was cut from the Cowboys the following year and never caught on with another team.

No. 1 John Taylor

Super Bowl XXIII. The Bengals, a seven-point underdog, led 16-13 late in the fourth quarter against Bill Walsh, Joe Montana and the 49ers. It only took Montana 2:35 to march 92 yards and find an unlikely hero. In a game where Jerry Rice put up a Super Bowl record 215 yards by catching 11 passes -- one for a touchdown -- Montana turned to a receiver who had set some marks of his own during the game. John Taylor had averaged 18.7 yards per punt return, returning one punt 45 yards and totaling 56 punt return yards for the game, all Super Bowl records at the time. And with the Bengals defense keying on Rice, Montana found Taylor on a quick slant in the back of the end zone to put the 49ers up, 20-16. The catch jumpstarted Taylor’s career, which was previously spent returning punts and kickoffs. In the following season he had 60 receptions for 1,077 yards, and his 10 touchdowns ranked fourth in the NFL. This catch also gave him the honor of being the last receiver to catch a touchdown pass in an NFL game coached by Walsh, who retired after the game.

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Professional and collegiate athletes have had an illustrious history in our nation’s capital. Gerald Ford was an All-American football player at the University of Michigan, and later sat in the Oval Office after Richard Nixon resigned. In November, longtime Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle Jon Runyan was elected to the House of Representatives as a Republican from New Jersey’s third district. Just last season he was suiting up for the San Diego Charger. And former NFL quarterback Heath Shuler was re-elected in North Carolina’s 11th district as a Democrat, despite a tough election cycle for the incumbents.

The list of athletes that have taken their talents to the banks of the Potomac River is quite impressive, and athletes will surely continue to descend upon Washington in the future. But what would the political careers of current professional sports figures look like? These would our five favorite candidates.

No. 5 Ozzie Guillen

Political Affiliation: Whichever party is more controversial at the moment.

Campaign Slogan: [Expletive Deleted].

Comparable Politician: Harry S. Truman. Truman dropped the A-bomb. Ozzie drops the F-bomb.

Signature Issue: Immigration.

Related Hidden Agenda: Dropping curse words in multiple languages.

No. 4 Bill Belichick

Political Affiliation: Totalitarian.

Campaign Slogan: The gray hoodie you can believe in.

Comparable Politician: Richard Nixon. After all, the coach’s ’07 controversy was named after Nixon’s downfall.

Signature Issue: PATRIOT Act

Related Hidden Agenda: Acquiring the authority to spy on everyone.

No. 3 Tiger Woods

Political Affiliation: Republican. Tiger wears red on Sundays for a reason.

Campaign Slogan: Whatever Nike’s slogan happens to be at the moment.

Comparable Politician: Eliot Spitzer. No elaboration necessary.

Signature Issue: Upholding the traditional family.

Related Hidden Agenda: Reverse psychology!

No. 2 LeBron James

Political Affiliation: No political party for The King.

Campaign Slogan: Make “The Decision.”

Comparable Politician: Arlen Specter. Both joined a super team/supermajority.

Signature Issue: Health care.

Related Hidden Agenda: Taking the talents of the Cleveland Clinic to South Beach.

No. 1 Brett Favre

Political Affiliation: Democrat. No, Republican. Wait, Democrat. He can't decide!

Campaign Slogan: Real. Comfortable. Politics.

Comparable Politician: Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Retirement is not an option.

Signature Issue: Wiretapping.

Related Hidden Agenda: Ensuring the protection of all personal cell phone messages/pictures.

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Oregon and Auburn are two pretty special teams - and not just because of their prolific, high-powered offenses. Both schools have reached the top stage quicker than anyone should’ve expected under the circumstances.

Why do I say that? Well, both the Ducks and the Tigers are led by quarterbacks in their first year as the starter (Darron Thomas and Cam Newton, respectively) and coaches in their second year at the helm (Chip Kelly and Gene Chizik, respectively). That’s pretty remarkable -- coaches don’t generally implement their system and identify the players they need that efficiently, regardless of how much talent is already in the program. And having a field general who’s adjusting to running the team for the first time and trying to earn respect in the locker room makes it even tougher.

Yet both teams have overcome the odds to put themselves in position to capture college football’s greatest prize.

Title-winning teams are usually built on experience and stability, the culmination of the hard work an established coach recruiting a strong class that gels and matures over four years. In fact, just five other teams in the Heisman Trophy era (since 1934) have ended the season ranked No. 1 featuring head coaches in their first or second year at the school and quarterbacks in their first or second year as the starter. These are the five, starting with the most recent.

No. 5: 2002 Ohio State

It seems like Jim Tressel has been roaming the sidelines at the Horseshoe for longer than a decade -- mainly because it didn’t take The Sweater Vest long to establish himself at Ohio State. Tressel’s first team in Columbus went 7-5, but the 2002 squad was ranked No. 13 in the preseason and added true freshman sensation Maurice Clarett. Junior quarterback Craig Krenzel threw for 2,110 yards and 12 touchdowns in his first year as the starter and protected the football, but it was Clarett’s show. The season had two distinct halves: the first seven games, when Ohio State never scored fewer than 23 points and beat six teams by double digits, and the last seven, when five of the Buckeyes’ wins were by a touchdown or less. But Ohio State kept finding ways to win, ending its perfect season with the miraculous upset over Miami in the national title game.

No. 4: 2001 Miami

A coach can’t be handed a better situation than Butch Davis the one left Larry Coker after jumping to the NFL. The 2001 Hurricanes had no fewer than six first-round picks at the end of the year and featured the likes of Andre Johnson, Bryant McKinnie, Jeremy Shockey, Ed Reed, Clinton Portis, Sean Taylor, Willis McGahee ... you get the idea. At that point, it doesn’t really matter who’s coaching or quarterbacking. Junior Ken Dorsey had a 23-9 touchdown-to-interception ratio in his second year as the starting QB, and Coker, in his first, managed to not mess anything up. Miami was only really challenged twice -- an 18-7 win at Boston College and a 26-24 squeaker at Virginia Tech -- before crushing Nebraska in the Rose Bowl to secure the championship that seemed inevitable in September.

No. 3: 2000 Oklahoma

That’s right. This impressive feat happened three straight years at the beginning of the decade after occurring only twice in the previous 65 years. This team, Bob Stoops' second at Oklahoma, might’ve been the most unlikely on this list to win the national title. The Sooners had a winning record only once in the past six years and hadn't won 10 since 1987. But Oklahoma proved itself with an impressive three-game stretch in the middle of the season when it beat No. 11 Texas, No. 2 Kansas State and No. 1 Nebraska by a combined score of 135-58. Senior quarterback Josh Heupel made the most of his only chance to start, throwing for nearly 3,400 yards and 20 touchdowns while rushing for seven more scores. The Sooners smothered Florida State 13-2 in the Orange Bowl to capture their first championship in 15 years.

No. 2: 1989 Miami

Miami coaches have a history of leaving behind loaded rosters for their successors. Dennis Erickson inherited a team that had finished first or second in four of the previous six years and guided the Hurricanes to another championship. Junior Craig Erickson was passable in his first year as the primary field general, with 16 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. That squad also had future Heisman Trophy winner Gino Torretta as a freshman that filled in for an injured Erickson a couple of times and broke a school record with 485 yards in one of his three starts. Miami had maybe the best pair of defensive tackles in history with future top-3 picks Cortez Kennedy and Russell Maryland. Though the Hurricanes dropped a game during the regular season, they beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl to finish the year ranked first.

No. 1: 1942 Ohio State

Before Paul Brown became famous as the coach of the Cleveland Browns, he made a name for himself in three seasons at Ohio State. Brown’s high-powered offense only scored less than 20 points once in his second season: a 17-7 loss to Wisconsin, the Buckeyes’ only defeat. Junior George Lynn quarterbacked the Buckeyes, though the real stars were future Heisman Trophy winner and wingback Les Horvath and tackle Charles Csuri. Ohio State didn’t end up playing in a bowl game yet were still awarded the school’s first national championship.

It’s pretty clear that Auburn has joined some very select company -- and be deserving of that company. It’s also worth pointing out that only one of the coaches on the above list (Dennis Erickson) won a second title at his respective school, though Stoops and Tressel aren’t done yet. So make sure to savor Monday night, Tigers fans. Seasons like this don’t happen often.

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