Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2021 Pro Bowl was held virtually. Deshaun Watson, Kyler Murray, Jamal Adams, Derrick Henry and even Snoop Dogg were among the real participants who controlled the AFC and NFC teams in the virtual Pro Bowl on Sunday with Madden NFL 21.
Five teams didn’t have a representative in this year’s virtual Pro Bowl – the Dallas Cowboys, the New York Jets, the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Carolina Panthers, and the Cincinnati Bengals.
For the Bengals this season was the first time since 2010 that the team no longer had a Pro Bowler.
“I think there should definitely have been at least two people there,” said Bengali recipient Tee Higgins in December. “Jessie Bates and also Tyler Boyd. It is what it is.”
Many Bengals believe Bates and Boyd deserve a Pro Bowl nod. It would have been the first Pro Bowl invitation for both players.
Bates is perhaps the biggest Pro Bowl nudge. The third year free safety had its best year as a professional. Bates ’15 defended passes topped all of the NFL security measures. He also registered 109 tackles and three team-level interceptions. Pro Football Focus gave it the highest grade (90.1) of any NFL collateral that year.
The 6-foot-1 safety received praise from Pittsburgh Steelers trainer Mike Tomlin and Miami Dolphins trainer Brian Flores during the season. However, when the Pro Bowl roster was revealed – players are determined by the consensus votes of fans, players, and coaches – Bates was a notable name not on the roster. Steelers Minkah Fitzpatrick, Justin Simmons of Denver Broncos, and Bully Mathieu of the Kansas City Chiefs were AFC Pro Bowl collateral that year.
“I think he deserves it very much. I am happy that we have him on our team. I wouldn’t take anyone over him. Obviously the vote is what the vote is. Some people really struggle with it, but the bottom line is that Jessie was a great player, leading both the practice field and the field, ”said Bengal manager Zac Taylor after the Pro Bowl squad was revealed.
“Whenever we need to do a piece, Jessie is one of the guys I go to and say, ‘It’s your time to do this piece. ‘I’m counting on him, the team is counting on him and he hasn’t let us down yet. He’ll be a great player in this league for a long, long time. He’ll be in the Pro Bowl many, many years later. “
Bates, like any other competitor, was disappointed that he hadn’t made this year’s All-Star Virtual Game, but he easily accepted the Pro Bowl. He admitted that making the Pro Bowl was always one of his goals. He didn’t achieve that particular goal, but the 23-year-old has just reached his prime.
“It’s something you always dream of growing up. At every level of football, you think about awards and what you can do that goes with winning is the biggest part I want to talk about. During high school, you want to be all-state. You go to school; you want to be an all-american. They want to be All-ACC, the best conference in college football, ”Bates said during the season. “And then you go to the NFL, you want to be a pro bowler. And once you get to the Pro Bowl, think about the Hall of Fame. For me, it’s all about winning. I think that stuff comes with it when you play a good ball.
“It’s very important. I think it’s really cool because you think of all the names, all the Pro Bowl names and all the all-pro guys. That name has some weight. I’ve always dreamed of that and I’ll keep working towards it. “
Bates was All-State first team at Snider High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and he became All-ACC second team at Wake Forest.
In his third NFL season, a goal Bates achieved was for him to receive his first all-pro selection. For his performance that year, he was named second-team all-pro. Despite being banned from the Pro Bowl roster, Bates can take comfort in the fact that he is an NFL All-Pro.