Pittsburgh Steelers veteran center Maurkice Pouncey made the Pro Bowl. Yawn. Boring. Wake me up when something new happens, the man has made the Pro Bowl in every season in which he has played at least nine snaps—that is, five of his first seven seasons, including his most recent election to the Pro Bowl for the 2016 season.
It’s the same old song and dance, right? Well, not really. It’s a little bit different. And his last trip to the Pro Bowl was a little different, too. When Pouncey made the Pro Bowl—and was named a first-team All-Pro—following the 2014 season, he did so after he missed nearly all of the 2013 season, coming back from a torn ACL to play at a very high level.
The former first-round draft pick deserved to be very serious in the running for comeback player of the year at that time. Frankly, he deserves to be in the running again, now that he has proven for the second time in his career the ability to return from a major injury—in this case an fractured fibula that required seven surgeries due to numerous complications—and to continue to play at a high level.
To be perfectly honest, Pouncey’s own excellence works against him when it comes to being able to put in the proper context what it is that he has done. Over the course of the past four seasons, he has alternated missing the year due to a very significant lower body injury, only to come back the following year to play at a level that earns him great acclaim.
Sure, you can certainly make the arguments that maybe he hasn’t been one of the absolute top best centers in the league this year—I probably wouldn’t argue either way, to be honest—but whether or not his season ends in a Pro Bowl because he has recognition is ultimately immaterial to the fact that he has come back this year and played at a high level for the Steelers.
Considering the trials and tribulations of his 2015 season, and the long subsequent rehab process, you can probably safely bet that this most recent Pro Bowl—again, his fifth, out of five healthy seasons—means a little something extra to Pouncey, to be able to come back from a very complicated injury, which is, in fact, the second major injury of your professional career.
While the “injury-prone” label has been tossed around far more often than it should about the former 2010 first-round draft pick, the reality is that he has been dealt a handful of bad luck throughout his career that has led to some major injuries.
His steadfast perseverance and his ability to continue to play at a high level—and to be there for his teammates when he is unable to play—is a testament to the character that he possesses, and that helps make him one of the leaders of this team. And to think, at 27, he’s only about half a year older than the youngest starting lineman, David DeCastro, who was drafted two years later.