FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The cornerback of the New England Patriots, J.C. Jackson, who leads the NFL with six interceptions, entered the Pro Bowl fan poll on Wednesday after initially retiring.
Fan voting for the Pro Bowl began Tuesday, and Jackson's absence caused a stir on social media, highlighting the process by which players end up on the ballot.
The NFL asks the teams to submit 11 players on the offensive, 11 players on the defensive and five special teamers for the vote. The Patriots, as has been the practice over the years, initially submitted their basic defense with seven and four defenders. Reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore and veteran Jason McCourty are cornerback starters, so Jackson was not part of the list the Patriots originally submitted.
But the Patriots reached out to the NFL on Wednesday morning asking for a switch to a nickel defense, removing a linebacker and adding Jackson.
Pro bowlers are selected based on a combination of fan voting and voting by coaches and players. The NFL announced Tuesday that this year's Pro Bowl will not be played as usual and will instead be virtual in Madden NFL 21.
That doesn't diminish the value of being selected as a pro bowler for some players, such as Jackson, who is in his third NFL season and is said to be a restricted free agent after the season.
After Jackson recorded his sixth interception of the season in Sunday's 23:17 win against the Baltimore Ravens, he praised coach Bill Belichick.
"He has a really good knack for finding the ball," said Belichick. "He has good hands, quick hands, and the ability to locate and catch the ball without fully seeing it."
Jackson said, "I'm a playmaker, man. I know how to play the ball pretty well. When I go to the ball, I become the receiver."