The NFL put the power in the players’ hands this season with the introduction of the Players’ All-Pro Team voted on by the NFL Players Association. Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Donald, and more rounded out the inaugural, honorary list.
The list was shared on Wednesday (Jan. 11) by ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers were tied for the most appearances with four a piece, and the Philadelphia Eagles trailed with three.
Chiefs’ superstar quarterback Mahomes was joined by his highly reliable tight end Travis Kelce, riding a wave of momentum heading into their first-round bye in the postseason. Kelce’s older brother Jason, the Eagles’ star center, earned the recognition along with his teammate, right tackle Lane Johnson, as they also prepare for a week off.
Minnesota Vikings’ wide receiver Justin Jefferson also made the list, which adds to a phenomenal season where he became the youngest receiver to lead the NFL in both catches and receiving yards at 23 years old. Aaron Donald, the Los Angeles Rams’ superstar defensive lineman, was selected despite a difficult year for himself and the defending Super Bowl champions; they finished the season at 5-12 and he recorded a career-low five sacks.
Fans questioned Donald’s selection, given his dropoff in statistics. “Aaron Donald did not earn it this year,” one Twitter user said. “I think he’d even tell you that.”
NBC Sports reported that the rules for the list were that only active players were allowed to vote. They were not allowed cast votes for themselves or their teammates, and could only vote within their position group and the positions that they lined up against on the field. Lastly, all players were eligible to be voted onto the list with the exception of those who missed five or more games as of Week 15. As for special teams position players, two were nominated by leaders from each team.