Roscoe Parrish is leading the league in punt return average… again. Buffalo's diminutive return man has been every bit as good as he was last year when the team ranked first in punt return and he topped the league with a 16.3 average.
Through 14 games Parrish is averaging 15.3 yards per return, helping that average just last week with a big 56-yard return against one of the better coverage units in the New York Jets. His return led to a touchdown that gave the Bills the lead in the first half.
"He's a very talented returner as we all know," said head coach Dick Jauron.
However, not as many of his peers in the NFL know enough about his exploits. For the second straight season the league's leading punt returner was passed over. New York's Leon Washington was named the AFC's return specialist for the Pro Bowl.
Washington certainly has quality numbers that are comparable to Parrish. He also returns kicks for the Jets. But Parrish wasn't even the alternate. That went to Cleveland's Josh Cribbs, the AFC representative last season.
Parrish takes it all in stride. He understands why he's been overlooked by the rest of the league when Pro Bowl ballots are cast.
"It comes down to your team's record," said Parrish. "I've come to realize that even though I've been on the top on punt return it all comes down to wins and losses."
At 6-8 with just one win in their last seven games, Parrish knew his chances of being considered with Washington on a 9-5 Jets squad were slim. But Parrish sees the forest for the trees even for some of his peers.
"He had three returns for touchdowns last year and didn't go to the Pro Bowl," said Parrish of Washington. "This year he had one return, but his team has nine wins and he's going."
Washington's punt return average went up a yard from last season, but his kick return average went down and his touchdowns went down, but because his team was more successful he got far more Pro Bowl consideration.
Last year when Cleveland's Josh Cribbs was the AFC Pro Bowl return specialist the Browns were 10-6. This year they're 4-10 and Cribbs is the alternate.
"The record has a lot to do with it and that's the advantage that they have over me, because if you look at the stats and I'm at the top of the NFL," said Parrish. "Every year I'm in the top three."
Bills head coach Dick Jauron agrees that a team's success has an influence on who goes and who does not go to the Pro Bowl.
"A lot of it unfortunately is tied into the team record," Jauron said. "If your team consistently wins games a lot more of your guys get a lot more recognition. We need to do that, just win and guys like Roscoe will get recognized."
Perhaps what might open more eyes is the fact that Parrish right now is the leading punt returner in league history. Now with 94 returns on his resume, Parrish has a career average of 14 yards a return, which is over a yard more than the next best punt returner in league annals.
The next closest modern era players are Washington's Santana Moss (12.1) and Chicago's Devin Hester (12.0).
Parrish doesn't let it get to him. He feels he deserves to go to Hawaii, but instead has chosen to focus on continuing to do what he does best.
"I just control what I can control," he said. "And each year you best believe I'm going to be at the top."