NFC-AFC PRO BOWL
Colts get 7 spots, 3 teams land 6 in 2006 Pro Bowl
The Barbers outnumber the Mannings two to one for the NFL all-star game at Aloha Stadium
There will be only one brother act in the Pro Bowl this season: the Barbers.
The Mannings? Only Peyton made it, hardly a surprise because brother Eli has had a very up-and-down second season with the New York Giants.
So Eli, one of the leaders in the fan vote, ended up as a third alternate in the NFC when the players and coaches added their say.
Peyton Manning was one of an NFL-high seven Indianapolis Colts who made the group of 42 players from each conference announced yesterday; the seven Pro Bowlers befit the Colts' 13-1 record. San Diego, which handed Indianapolis its first loss last Sunday, had six, including linebacker Shawne Merriman, one of two rookies to make it.
Houston kick returner Jerome Mathis was the other first-year man.
Chicago and Atlanta led the NFC with six selections each, while the Giants and Seattle had five apiece in the selections for the Feb. 12 game in Honolulu. The Bears' contingent was the largest they have sent to Hawaii in 15 years, and New York defensive ends Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora were the first pair from the same team at that position since Miami's Jason Taylor and Trace Armstrong in 2001.
Also among the Bears named yesterday was center Olin Kreutz, a Saint Louis School alumnus picked to the NFL's all-star game for the fifth time in eight seasons.
Another noteworthy selection: Minnesota's Koren Robinson, chosen as the NFC's kick returner. Robinson, the ninth overall pick in the 2001 draft by Seattle, has had a series of off-field problems that included a guilty plea to drunk driving and a suspension last season. He was cut by the Seahawks before the season.
"It's a funny feeling right now," Robinson said. "Looking back on everything I've been through, being in an alcohol treatment facility, I thought I burned all my bridges as far as all the organizations in the NFL were concerned."
The Colts selections include Manning, running back Edgerrin James, wide receiver Marvin Harrison, center Jeff Saturday, defensive end Dwight Freeney, linebacker Cato June and safety Bob Sanders.
An eighth, offensive tackle Tarik Glenn, was originally told he made the team. Then the NFL
said there was a computer error and he was fourth in the voting behind Willie Anderson, William Roaf and Jonathan Ogden.
"I'm happy with the guys who made it," coach Tony Dungy said. "And I'm a league guy, but this is a bad, bad situation ... the less I say the better. You'll have to ask the league."
Saturday, a first-time Pro Bowler, indicated he might take his linemates to Honolulu with him, which would mean almost all the Colts' offensive starters would attend.
"They'll be well taken care of, you can count on that," Saturday said.
"It says we're coming along, playing together, playing well," said Sanders, another first-time selection. "It's an exciting moment for us, for this family, for the whole organization."
The selections generally reflect the standings although players on losing teams are every bit as happy.
"It's always been a dream of mine since I was a little kid," said wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald of Arizona, the third overall pick in the 2004 draft. "It hasn't been that long since my dad took me over there and I was taking pictures with the guys that were over there, so it's truly an honor."
Last year, for example, Philadelphia was 13-1 at the time of the voting by fans, players and coaches, and had nine representatives, the most from a single team since 1998. This year, the Eagles are 6-8 and had one player selected, middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter.
Four teams had no players chosen -- Cleveland and Tennessee in the AFC, San Francisco and Green Bay in the NFC. Of those four, the Browns have the best record: 5-9.
This will be the second straight year in Hawaii for the Barber twins, Tiki, the Giants' running back, and Ronde, the Tampa Bay cornerback.
"It was special. It was nerve-racking, too many people. It was fun," Ronde said of last season's trip. "It will be another fun trip, I'm sure."
The starting lineups will be announced Jan. 7.
Players around the league consider selection a singular honor, especially because most have bonuses in their contracts if they are picked. Playing is another matter -- many drop out with injuries or for other reasons, and alternates take their places.
"The Pro Bowl is a weeklong trip you enjoy. But by six months later folks forgot who played. But the Super Bowl, to win the Super Bowl, that's more of a lifetime experience," said Cincinnati's Anderson, who will be making his third Pro Bowl trip in a 10-year career, but is going to the playoffs for the first time.
"To be honest with you, if I never make it again I won't be sad, but I think this season was important for us to make the playoffs and possibly go to the Super Bowl."
2006 Pro Bowl rosters
Wide Receivers: Chris Chambers, Miami; Marvin Harrison, Indianapolis; Chad Johnson, Cincinnati; Rod Smith, Denver.
Tackles: Willie Anderson, Cincinnati; Jonathan Ogden, Baltimore; Willie Roaf, Kansas City.
Guards: Alan Faneca, Pittsburgh; Will Shields, Kansas City; Brian Waters, Kansas City.
Centers: Jeff Hartings, Pittsburgh; Jeff Saturday, Indianapolis.
Tight Ends: Antonio Gates, San Diego; Tony Gonzalez, Kansas City.
Quarterbacks: Tom Brady, New England; Peyton Manning, Indianapolis; Carson Palmer, Cincinnati.
Running Backs: Edgerrin James, Indianapolis; Larry Johnson, Kansas City; LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego.
Fullback: Lorenzo Neal, San Diego.
Ends: Derrick Burgess, Oakland; Dwight Freeney, Indianapolis; Jason Taylor, Miami.
Interior Linemen: Marcus Stroud, Jacksonville; Richard Seymour, New England; Jamal Williams, San Diego.
Outside Linebackers: Cato June, Indianapolis; Shawne Merriman, San Diego; Joey Porter, Pittsburgh.
Inside Linebackers: Zach Thomas, Miami; Al Wilson, Denver.
Cornerbacks: Champ Bailey, Denver; Ty Law, New York; Deltha O'Neal, Cincinnati.
Strong Safety: Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh.
Free Safeties: John Lynch, Denver; Bob Sanders, Indianapolis.
Punter: Brian Moorman, Buffalo.
Placekicker: Shayne Graham, Cincinnati.
Kick Return Specialist: Jerome Mathis, Houston.
Special Teamer: Hanik Milligan, San Diego.
Wide Receivers: Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona; Torry Holt, St. Louis; Santana Moss, Washington; Steve Smith, Carolina.
Tackles: Walter Jones, Seattle; Orlando Pace, St. Louis; Chris Samuels, Washington.
Guards: Larry Allen, Dallas; Steve Hutchinson, Seattle; Mike Wahle, Carolina.
Centers: LeCharles Bentley, New Orleans; Olin Kreutz, Chicago.
Tight Ends: Alge Crumpler, Atlanta; Jeremy Shockey, New York.
Quarterbacks: Jake Delhomme, Carolina; Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle; Michael Vick, Atlanta.
Running Backs: Shaun Alexander, Seattle; Tiki Barber, New York; Warrick Dunn, Atlanta.
Fullback: Mack Strong, Seattle.
Ends: Julius Peppers, Carolina; Michael Strahan, New York; Osi Umenyiora, New York.
Interior Linemen: Rod Coleman, Atlanta; Tommie Harris, Chicago; Shaun Rogers, Detroit.
Outside Linebackers: Lance Briggs, Chicago; Keith Brooking, Atlanta; Derrick Brooks, Tampa Bay.
Inside Linebackers: Jeremiah Trotter, Philadelphia; Brian Urlacher, Chicago.
Cornerbacks: Ronde Barber, Tampa Bay; DeAngelo Hall, Atlanta; Nathan Vasher, Chicago.
Strong Safeties: Mike Brown, Chicago; Roy Williams, Dallas.
Free Safety: Darren Sharper, Minnesota.
Punter: Josh Bidwell, Tampa Bay.
Placekicker: Neil Rackers, Arizona.
Kick Return Specialist: Koren Robinson, Minnesota.
Special Teamer: David Tyree, New York.