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Chiefs' Derrick Johnson deserves this Pro Bowl story

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

This isn't a story about the Pro Bowl.

Those stories have been written and will be written, arguments for or against the NFL's postseason all-star exhibition that we've all read or heard countless times. They repeat every year, and despite changes and tinkering here and there, they remain the same. But what also remains the same is what the Pro Bowl represents. And this is the very important part.

The reason so many of us scoff at the Pro Bowl is because it is meaningless. The game itself is meaningless. The NFL's attempts to make it more interesting seem like flipping over the same mattress again and again hoping it somehow becomes more comfortable. But despite the talking heads debating the merits of the Pro Bowl, the Pro Bowl remains important as an enduring reminder of greatness. Like it or not, that makes it important.

On Monday, Derrick Johnson was announced as the newest Pro Bowl roster addition. Outside of a Chiefs news site, no one is likely even going to post an entire story about it. Pro Bowl substitutes this late are minor notes in a much longer column filled with supposedly more pertinent information. But when we look back, Derrick Johnson will be very glad he received Monday's news. As Chiefs fans, so will we.

A Pro Bowl appearance is arguably the quickest way for an NFL fan to identify a player as great. When we look back, we often say how many times a player was chosen to play in the Pro Bowl. The final tally is always given during any induction ceremony — whether for the Pro Football Hall of Fame or the Kansas City Chiefs Ring of Honor. And when we look back, we never joke about the meaning of Pro Bowl invites in a player's career.

I'm glad Derrick Johnson was honored with a Pro Bowl invite because it's Derrick Johnson who deserves the limelight. Not the Pro Bowl. It was DJ who overcame a potentially career-ending injury in an amazing amount of time. It was DJ who defied age and expectations for a much better season than anyone could have anticipated. It was DJ who looked better than ever as the season wore on. It was DJ who broke the team's all-time tackle record.

In the moment, the Pro Bowl is frivolous and I cannot remember a single time that I watched it. I will, however, always remember what it was like to watch Derrick Johnson command the heart of the Chiefs defense. I want Derrick Johnson to be remembered as one of the best linebackers of a generation, and certainly one of the best Chiefs defenders I've ever seen. Long after we forget individuals seasons as they run together in our memory, I'm glad Derrick has earned his fourth nomination to give us a handle on just how great he was.

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