It’s a constant for every pro sports league: their version of an all-star game never seems to have everyone that seemingly earned a spot. Normally it’s extremely subjective, but in the case of this NFL star, there’s barely any case to make for his absence.
Former Syracuse Orange Linebacker Zaire Franklin, now a staple of the Indianapolis Colts defense, was not selected to the Pro Bowl as part of the NFL’s fan vote. He is listed as an alternate and could technically still make an appearance - but that’s not the point.
Zaire was a relative unknown for most of his rookie contract: serviceable, but nothing that blew anyone away. That changed in 2022, the first season of a three-year extension. Franklin rewarded the Colts’ faith in him by far exceeding all expectations, setting a new single-season franchise record with 167 total tackles.
This season, Franklin did it again, needing only 15 games to rack up 170 tackles - a total that leads all the NFL. (Franklin missed the Week 9 contest at the Carolina Panthers.) It’s also nearly DOUBLE that of next-leading tackler on Indy’s defense; corner Kenny Moore II has 91.
Additionally, Franklin has broken up six passes, forced a pair of fumbles, and has 1.5 sacks / three tackles for loss.
We can debate how much worth the Pro Bowl game itself has, but being selected has a big impact on how a career is viewed at its end. Franklin more than deserved the honor this season. His individual effort is a huge reason why the Colts are hanging onto a playoff spot entering their final regular season, and he’ll need one more quality performance to overcome Houston in Saturday night’s win-and-in game.
There’s not much that can be done about his Pro Bowl status - but Zaire is the team’s nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, so any engagement related to that can’t hurt.