Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is one of seven Green Bay players chosen for the annual Pro Bowl.
Associated Press Enlarge
NEW YORK -- Tom Brady is one of eight Patriots and Patrick Willis one of eight 49ers to make the Pro Bowl, the most on each roster.
Defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay (14-1), led by starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and Baltimore (11-4), led by veteran linebacker Ray Lewis, have seven apiece for the Jan. 29 game in Honolulu, the NFL announced Tuesday.
Brady is one of seven starters from New England (12-3). The others are receiver Wes Welker, tight end Rob Gronkowski, defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, defensive end Andre Carter, and guards Brian Waters and Logan Mankins all are starters for the AFC from the Patriots. Special teamer Matthew Slater is the other New England representative.
Linebacker Willis, DE Justin Smith, cornerback Carlos Rogers and tackle Joe Staley will start for the NFC from the 49ers (12-3), who had only Smith and Willis make the Pro Bowl last year.
Green Bay's Rodgers is the starting NFC quarterback, backed by record-setting Drew Brees of New Orleans (12-3).
"It does have special significance, because when I was voted in in 2009, I was the third guy and I was very thankful to be voted in, and got the opportunity to start because of some injuries and guys not going," Rodgers said. "It's great to be voted in as a starter, that means a lot to me and it's a special honor."
Four of the NFL's biggest headline makers this season did not get voted in by players, coaches, and fans: Lions DT Ndamukong Suh, Steelers LB James Harrison, Panthers rookie QB Cam Newton, and Denver QB Tim Tebow.
Suh might have lost support after drawing a two-game suspension for stomping an opponent, and Harrison's one-game suspension for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Browns QB Colt McCoy might have reduced his support.
Cleveland offensive tackle Joe Thomas was selected for the fifth straight season.
Thomas, who has not missed an offensive snap since he was drafted in 2007, joins Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown as the only Cleveland players to make the Pro Bowl in their first five seasons. The last Browns player to be selected to five or more consecutive Pro Bowls was Hall of Fame running back Leroy Kelly (1967-72).
Thomas and former Miami lineman Richmond Webb are the only NFL offensive linemen to make the Pro Bowl in each of their first five seasons since 1970.
Fifteen first-time Pro Bowlers made the NFC squad, including Rogers, Staley, and safety Dashon Goldson of the 49ers. Thirteen AFC players were first-time selections, including Gronkowski, Carter, and Slater of New England. Carter is on injured reserve (left quadriceps) and won't play.
"If you look around the NFC, you see a ton of amazing and talented players at tight end," said the Saints' Jimmy Graham, the starter at the position and a first-time Pro Bowler. "And to be thought of in that company by my peers, the head coaches and the fans who follow the NFL is something I take seriously."
Fourteen teams from each conference were represented, with St. Louis (2-13) and Washington (5-10) drawing blanks in the NFC, Buffalo (6-9) and Tennessee (8-7) shut out in the AFC.
Pittsburgh (11-4), New Orleans, and Chicago (7-8) each had five representatives.
Three rookies were chosen: Denver linebacker Von Miller, Cincinnati receiver A.J. Green, and Arizona cornerback Patrick Peterson, selected as a kick return specialist. He has tied an NFL record with four punt runbacks for TDs this season.
"As I've said before, A.J. is the best first-round draft pick that I've ever been around," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. "He has shown the other players in this league, and the fans, that he deserved this honor. I have not seen a receiver better than he is at getting to the ball."
Browns linebacker D'Qwell Jackson was selected a first alternate and Josh Cribbs was selected as a second alternative as a kick returner and third alternate as a special teamer.
All the kickers are from Bay Area teams.
NFC special teamers included two 49ers: record-setting placekicker David Akers, and punter Andy Lee; Peterson; and Corey Graham of Chicago.
For the AFC, the Raiders' Sebastian Janikowski is the placekicker, Shane Lechler the punter. The kick return specialist is Pittsburgh WR Antonio Brown, and the special-teams player is Slater.
NFC starters will be Rodgers, Eagles RB LeSean McCoy, Packers FB John Kuhn, Graham, Panthers C Ryan Kalil, Saints guards Jahri Evans and Carl Nicks, Eagles tackle Jason Peters and Staley, Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald, and Lions WR Calvin Johnson on offense.
On defense, it will be Vikings DE Jared Allen and Eagles DE Jason Babin, Cowboys DT Jay Ratliff and Smith, Packers OLB Clay Matthews and Cowboys OLB DeMarcus Ware, ILB Willis, Packers CB Charles Woodson and Rogers, Seahawks safety Earl Thomas, and Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson.
AFC starters will be Brady, Ravens RB Ray Rice and FB Vonta Leach, Gronkowski, Steelers C Maurkice Pouncey, Mankins and Waters at guard, Browns tackle Joe Thomas and Dolphins tackle Jake Long, Welker, and Steelers WR Mike Wallace.
On defense, it will be Broncos DE Elvis Dumervil replacing Carter, Colts DE Dwight Freeney, Wilfork and Ravens DT Haloti Ngata, Miller and Ravens OLB Terrell Suggs, Lewis, Jets CB Darrelle Revis and Broncos CB Champ Bailey, Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, and Ravens safety Ed Reed.
NFL PRO BOWL ROSTER
2012 Pro Bowl Rosters
Sunday, Jan. 29
Wide Receivers — s-Wes Welker, New England; s-Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh; A.J. Green, Cincinnati; Brandon Marshall, Miami.
Tackles — s-Joe Thomas, Cleveland; s-Jake Long, Miami; D’Brickashaw Ferguson, New York Jets.
Guards — s-Logan Mankins, New England; s-Brian Waters, New England; Marshal Yanda, Baltimore.
Centers — s-Maurkice Pouncey, Pittsburgh; Nick Mangold, New York Jets.
Tight Ends — s-Rob Gronkowski, New England; Antonio Gates, San Diego.
Quarterbacks — s-Tom Brady, New England; Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh; Philip Rivers, San Diego.
Running Backs — s-Ray Rice, Baltimore; Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville; Arian Foster, Houston.
Fullback — s-Vonta Leach, Baltimore.
Ends — s-Dwight Freeney, Indianapolis; s-Andre Carter, New England; Elvis Dumervil, Denver.
Interior Linemen — s-Haloti Ngata, Baltimore; s-Vince Wilfork, New England; Richard Seymour, Oakland.
Outside Linebackers — s-Terrell Suggs, Baltimore; s-Von Miller, Denver; Tamba Hali, Kansas City.
Inside/Middle Linebackers — s-Ray Lewis, Baltimore; Derrick Johnson, Kansas City.
Cornerbacks — s-Darrelle Revis, New York Jets; s-Champ Bailey, Denver; Johnathan Joseph, Houston.
Free Safeties — s-Ed Reed, Baltimore; Eric Weddle, San Diego.
Strong Safety — s-Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh.
Punter — Shane Lechler, Oakland.
Placekicker — Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland.
Kick Returner — Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh.
Special Teamer — Matthew Slater, New England.
Long Snapper — TBA.
Wide Receiver — s-Calvin Johnson, Detroit; s-Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona; Steve Smith, Carolina; Greg Jennings, Green Bay.
Tackles — s-Jason Peters, Philadelphia; s-Joe Staley, San Francisco; Jermon Bushrod, New Orleans.
Guards — s-Jahri Evans, New Orleans; s-Carl Nicks, New Orleans; Davin Joseph, Tampa Bay.
Centers — s-Ryan Kalil, Carolina; Scott Wells, Green Bay.
Tight Ends — s-Jimmy Graham, New Orleans; Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta.
Quarterbacks — s-Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay; Drew Brees, New Orleans; Eli Manning, New York Giants.
Running Backs — s-LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia; Matt Forte, Chicago; Frank Gore, San Francisco.
Fullback — s-John Kuhn, Green Bay.
Ends — s-Jared Allen, Minnesota; s-Jason Babin, Philadelphia; Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants.
Interior Lineman — s-Justin Smith, San Francisco; s-Jay Ratliff, Dallas; B.J. Raji, Green Bay.
Outside Linebackers — s-DeMarcus Ware, Dallas; s-Clay Matthews, Green Bay; Lance Briggs, Chicago.
Inside/Middle Linebackers — s-Patrick Willis, San Francisco; Brian Urlacher, Chicago.
Cornerbacks — s-Charles Woodson, Green Bay; s-Carlos Rogers, San Francisco; Charles Tillman, Chicago.
Free Safeties — s-Earl Thomas, Seattle; Dashon Goldson, San Francisco.
Strong Safety — s-Adrian Wilson, Arizona.
Punter — Andy Lee, San Francisco.
Placekicker — David Akers, San Francisco.
Kick Returner — Patrick Peterson, Arizona.
Special Teamer — Corey Graham, Chicago.
Long Snapper — TBA.
Packers make more shares of stock available
GREEN BAY -- Sales of Packers stock have been so brisk since an initial offering three weeks ago that the team is making another 30,000 shares available.
The team initially offered 250,000 shares for sale starting Dec. 6. The allotment is nearly gone, even though the shares cost $250 each and have virtually no resale value.
The shares are available at packersowner.com for $250, plus a $25 handling fee per transaction.
Buyers gain the privilege of calling themselves NFL owners, though the stock value will not go up and there are no dividends. Stockholders also get voting rights, and they can attend annual meetings where they can meet team executives and tour the Packers Hall of Fame.
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