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Pro Bowl: Eagles lead roster with nine; 25 newcomers make team

Posted: Thursday, December 23, 2004

NEW YORK - Going 13-1 hasn't just assured the Eagles and Steelers of division titles. It's also made them the leaders in Pro Bowl players.

Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens were among nine Philadelphia players chosen for the game, the most representatives voted in for one team since 1998.

The Steelers had six Pro Bowlers in results released Wednesday.

Joining quarterback McNabb and wide receiver Owens, who had ankle surgery Wednesday and is out for the rest of the regular season and perhaps the playoffs, were tackle Tra Thomas, linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, placekicker David Akers, special teamer Ike Reese, and three of four secondary starters: cornerback Lito Sheppard and safeties Michael Lewis and Brian Dawkins.

''You just try to encourage all the guys,'' McNabb said. ''It's good to see that Lito, Mike and Ike have made it and get an opportunity to get over there and get a good feel of All-Star play and to say that they've been a Pro Bowler. It says a lot for this organization, it says a lot for those players and it says a lot for this team.

''We're going to continue this thing on and continue to open up eyes.''

The Eagles already clinched home-field advantage for the NFC playoffs. Pittsburgh owns the AFC North crown and had the next-most selections in balloting by players, coaches and fans. The Steelers had six: linebackers Joey Porter and James Farrior, safety Troy Polamalu, center Jeff Hartings, guard Alan Faneca and wide receiver Hines Ward. That led the AFC, ahead of Baltimore and Kansas City with five each, while Indianapolis and New England had four apiece.

''We do have a good team and our individual success is a direct reflection of our team,'' Farrior said.

Green Bay, Atlanta and Dallas had four each in the NFC for the game in Honolulu on Feb. 13.

There were 25 first-time selections.

For only the third time, a set of brothers made the same Pro Bowl. Cornerback Ronde Barber of Tampa Bay and running back Tiki Barber of the Giants were selected for the NFC roster - the first twins to make it.

The other brothers were Bruce and Clay Matthews in 1989 and 1990, Sterling and Shannon Sharpe from 1993-95.

Peyton Manning set a record in the fan voting and was a runaway choice for AFC quarterback, along with the Patriots' Tom Brady and the Chargers' Drew Brees.

''I certainly appreciate it,'' said Manning, one touchdown pass short of Dan Marino's record of 48 in a season. ''I know it's voted on by my peers, by the coaches and the fans, and I'm proud to represent the Colts there.''

The other Colts on the AFC roster were wide receiver Marvin Harrison, running back Edgerrin James and defensive end Dwight Freeney, the league's sacks leader with 15.

On becoming first Colts defender since end John Dutton from 1975-77 to make it in two straight years, Freeney said, ''You want to make it a consistent thing.''

Tampa Bay linebacker Derrick Brooks made it for the eighth consecutive time, joining four others - Jack Lambert, Lawrence Taylor, Mike Singletary and Reggie White - who have won a Super Bowl, Defensive Player of the Year and eight straight trips to Hawaii.

''You take it in stride,'' Brooks said. ''We're in a different position. You always want to be humble by the selection, don't want it to take away from the goal at hand. ... I'm still at the top of my game. I appreciate the league recognizes that.''

Two consistent Pro Bowlers, Vikings wideout Randy Moss and Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, did not make it, mostly because of injuries. Also absent were such frequent Pro Bowl choices as Green Bay QB Brett Favre, St. Louis RB Marshall Faulk, Philadelphia DE Jevon Kearse and Oakland CB Charles Woodson.

Curtis Martin, the league's leading rusher with 1,511 yards, was one of three Jets chosen, joining defensive end John Abraham and center Kevin Mawae. Martin is having one of the best seasons of a 10-year career in which he has rushed for at least 1,000 yards each time.

''It feels good to do it in your 10th year, especially at the position like running back,'' he said. ''There are so many other good talented running backs in the NFL, some of whom I feel have much more talent than I do. To be chosen over some of them, it feels good.''

The other AFC running back was San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson. The other NFC runners were Shaun Alexander of Seattle and Ahman Green of Green Bay.

Joining McNabb as NFC quarterbacks were Michael Vick of Atlanta and Daunte Culpepper of Minnesota.

AFC first-timers were Brees and Chargers tight end Antonio Gates; Hartings, Farrior and Polamalu; Cincinnati cornerback Tory James; Houston wideout Andre Johnson; Kansas City guard Brian Waters; Baltimore linebacker Terrell Suggs; and Buffalo kick returner Terrence McGee.

For the NFC, newcomers were Sheppard, Lewis, Reese and Tiki Barber; Dallas tight end Jason Witten; Green Bay fullback William Henderson and wideout Jevon Walker; Carolina linebacker Dan Morgan; Washington linebacker Marcus Washington; Detroit kick returner Eddie Drummond; defensive tackles Shaun Rogers of Detroit and Kevin Williams of Minnesota; and all three defensive ends: Arizona's Bertrand Berry, Atlanta's Patrick Kerney and Carolina's Julius Peppers.

Tennessee, Cleveland and San Francisco had no players selected.



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