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Texans get two representatives in Hawaii while lowly Bengals nab one

Titans fail to earn any Pro Bowl slots

Posted: Friday, December 20, 2002

NEW YORK -- The Tennessee Titans just got new incentive in their quest for an NFL title.

No Pro Bowlers.

''I'm quite sure a lot of players on this team deserved it, but that's how it works,'' quarterback Steve McNair said after the AFC South leaders were ignored in Pro Bowl balloting announced Thursday. ''We don't have any control over that. This is how it works. But it's a team thing now for us. To solve all this, we just got to go to the Super Bowl and win it.''

The Philadelphia Eagles, leading the race for the NFC's top playoff seeding, had the most Pro Bowlers with seven, including three-fourths of their secondary. San Francisco and Miami, two other division leaders, each had six.

But the Titans, leading the AFC South at 9-5, were ignored in voting conducted in thirds: one-third by players, one-third by coaches, and one-third by fans on NFL.com.

''We feel we had players who had seasons worthy enough to be selected over there, we just go on,'' coach Jeff Fisher said. ''We're disappointed for Steve's sake. But hey, his play speaks for itself, and we have a lot of unfinished business.''

In contrast to Tennessee, the expansion Houston Texans had two players chosen, and the 1-13 Cincinnati Bengals had one, fullback Lorenzo Neal, who used to play for the Titans. The other teams without players chosen were .500 or worse: Cleveland, Detroit and Arizona.

''That we're 11-3 helps,'' said Philadelphia cornerback Troy Vincent, who was selected along with cornerback Bobby Taylor and safety Brian Dawkins. ''The team success gives you momentum, and defensively we've been playing well.''

The selections cover two generations.

Oakland wide receiver Jerry Rice was chosen for the 13th time at age 40, the first time he's made it since 1999, when he played with the 49ers. Raiders safety Rod Woodson, 37, was chosen for the 11th time. San Diego linebacker Junior Seau made it for the 12th straight season.

It's definitely a big accomplishment and it's something that I'm not going to take lightly.'' Seau said ''But again, it's one of those things that you've got to put on hold and get ready for this big game that we have (against Kansas City).''

At the other end of the spectrum were 22-year-old Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick and 22-year-old Jeremy Shockey, the New York Giants' tight end and the only rookie chosen.

As usual, reputation played a major part in selection.

The St. Louis Rams, 6-8 after being preseason favorite in the NFC, landed offensive tackle Orlando Pace and running back Marshall Faulk on the squad. Pace will miss his sixth game to injury this week and Faulk will miss his sixth straight start.

Yet Faulk was chosen ahead of the Giants' Tiki Barber, who is third in the NFC in rushing and leads in combined rushing and passing yardage. Barber was the first alternate at running back.

''It just shows when I am healthy and when I was out there, people watch and they take notice,'' Faulk said.

Among those overlooked were McNair, who has carried the team to eight wins in its last nine games, and New England QB Tom Brady, the Super Bowl MVP. McNair was the AFC's first alternate at quarterback.

But Drew Bledsoe, who was traded to Buffalo after being replaced by Brady, did make the team. The other two AFC quarterbacks were Rich Gannon of Oakland and Peyton Manning of Indianapolis.

Manning's favorite target, record-setting Marvin Harrison, also made the AFC team. Harrison already has set a single-season NFL mark with 127 catches.

''It's obviously something I'm very proud of,'' said Bledsoe, who has led the Bills to a 7-7 record after they won just three games last season. ''I'd like to have a few more wins, because that would certainly sweeten this. You want to be playing for that championship at the end. But it's a great honor and I'm proud to be a part of this team.''

One of the Eagles not chosen was quarterback Donovan McNabb, who broke his right ankle Nov. 17 and probably will not return until the playoffs. The three NFC quarterbacks were Vick, Green Bay's Brett Favre and San Francisco's Jeff Garcia.

Favre's selection was his seventh.

The two Texans chosen were both veterans, defensive tackle Gary Walker and cornerback Aaron Glenn. Both were among the high-salaried players chosen in the expansion draft.

Miami's Ricky Williams, traded by the Saints to make room in the backfield for Deuce McAllister, made the AFC team. McAllister made the NFC team.

The game is Feb. 2 in Honolulu.



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