Tuesday, December 16, 2008

NFL Announces Pro Bowl Rosters


The New York Jets will lead the American Football Conference’s 2009 Pro Bowl squad with an NFL-high seven players when the AFC takes on the National Football Conference All-Stars, the NFL announced today. Right behind the Jets with the most conference players are the Tennessee Titans with six and the Baltimore Ravens with five.

The Pro Bowl will be played on Sunday, February 8, in Honolulu, Hawaii (NBC, 4:30 PM ET).

The Jets’ seven All-Star selections – ALAN FANECA, BRETT FAVRE, KRIS JENKINS, THOMAS JONES, NICK MANGOLD, DARRELLE REVIS and LEON WASHINGTON -- are the most in team history and surpass a club-high of five following the 1982, 1985 and 1998 seasons. All seven Jets will make their first Pro Bowl appearances as representatives of New York in Hawaii. The AFC roster includes 17 first-time All-Stars, including Denver Broncos quarterback JAY CUTLER, who leads the AFC with 3,851 yards passing.

Nine-time All-Star PEYTON MANNING of the Indianapolis Colts will be the starting quarterback in his seventh consecutive Pro Bowl. New York Jets quarterback BRETT FAVRE was selected to his 10th All-Star game, but his first representing the AFC. Favre ties JOHNNY UNITAS for most All-Star selections by a quarterback with 10 and he is the first Jets QB to appear in a Pro Bowl since VINNY TESTAVERDE (1998 season). In his third season, Cutler will join veterans Manning and Favre to complete the AFC’s passing attack.

The AFC’s backfield will consist of four first-timers in the Aloha State. New York’s THOMAS JONES earned the starting role at running back. Jones has set the Jets’ season record with 15 touchdowns and leads the AFC with 1,222 rushing yards. At 260 pounds, LE’ RON MC CLAIN has utilized his size by pounding his way to a career-high seven rushing touchdowns this season. The first-time All-Star will be the AFC’s representative at fullback.

Rounding out the threesome at running back will be rookie CHRIS JOHNSON of Tennessee and RONNIE BROWN of Miami. Johnson ranks second in the AFC with 1,159 rushing yards and joins EARL CAMPBELL (1978 season) as the only Oilers/Titans rookie running back to reach the Pro Bowl. A former first-round pick in 2005, Brown is the first Dolphins running back to be named to the Pro Bowl since RICKY WILLIAMS in the 2002 season.

Four receivers are named to each All-Star squad. Chosen for the AFC’s 2009 team are Houston’s ANDRE JOHNSON, who leads the NFL in receptions (103) and receiving yards (1,408). The sixth-year receiver will make his third Pro Bowl appearance. Lined up opposite from Johnson as a starter will be first-time selection BRANDON MARSHALL of Denver. Two veteran receivers will round out the AFC All-Star receiving foursome -- Indianapolis wide receiver REGGIE WAYNE and first-timer WES WELKER of New England, who ranks second in the NFL behind Johnson with 102 receptions.

Representing the AFC at tight end will be 10-time All-Star TONY GONZALEZ of the Kansas City Chiefs, who has been selected to the most Pro Bowls at the position in NFL history. In his 12th season, Gonzalez leads NFL tight ends in receptions (84), receiving yards (941) and touchdowns (8). In his sixth season, San Diego’s ANTONIO GATES has been selected to his fifth consecutive Pro Bowl.

In his first year with the Jets, 11-year veteran guard ALAN FANECA will make his eighth consecutive Pro Bowl trip and will be joined at the other starting guard position by KRIS DIELMAN of San Diego, who will make his second All-Star game in back-to-back seasons. Kansas City’s BRIAN WATERS, who plays a pivotal role on a young Chiefs offensive line, has been selected to his fourth consecutive Pro Bowl.

In his 15th season, Tennessee’s KEVIN MAWAE will start at center for the AFC in his first Pro Bowl with the Titans and seventh overall. AFC All-Star NICK MANGOLD of the Jets will be making his first Pro Bowl voyage.

Assigned to keep the pocket clean against a talented group of NFC edge rushers are a group of AFC All-Star tackles – two-timers JASON PETERS of Buffalo and JOE THOMAS of Cleveland. Budding talent MICHAEL ROOS of Tennessee will play in his first Pro Bowl.

Plugging the middle for the AFC defensive front are starting interior linemen ALBERT HAYNESWORTH of Tennessee and New York’s KRIS JENKINS. Haynesworth will record his second consecutive start and Jenkins his fourth Pro Bowl berth and first as an AFCer. Accompanying Haynesworth and Jenkins will be Cleveland’s SHAUN ROGERS, who completes a mammoth interior group for the AFC.

A trio of AFC South rushers will be on display at defensive end. MARIO WILLIAMS of Houston will make his Pro Bowl debut as a starter and will be joined by Indianapolis defensive end DWIGHT FREENEY in his fourth Pro Bowl in seven seasons with the Colts. Freeney’s teammate ROBERT MATHIS will cap off this trio with the first All-Star appearance of his six-year career.

Sacks are plentiful for the AFC’s starting outside linebackers – Miami’s JOEY PORTER ranks first in the AFC with 17.5 and JAMES HARRISON of Pittsburgh is second in the conference with 15.0. Porter will make his fourth All-Star appearance and first as a Dolphin, while Harrison settles in with his second consecutive Pro Bowl start. Joining Porter and Harrison at outside linebacker is TERRELL SUGGS, who has 7.5 sacks and two interception-touchdown returns for Baltimore.

Roaming the middle of the AFC defense will be two AFC North linebackers from the NFL’s top-two-ranked defenses -- RAY LEWIS of Baltimore and JAMES FARRIOR of Pittsburgh. In his 13th season from Miami, Lewis will start as he makes his ninth appearance in Hawaii. Farrior, the captain of the league’s No. 1 defense will appear in his second All-Star game.

Locking up coverage on the outside will be three first-time All-Stars for the AFC at cornerback. NNAMDI ASOMUGHA of Oakland and CORTLAND FINNEGAN of Tennessee will pair as the starters. Asomugha is the first Raiders cornerback since CHARLES WOODSON in 2001 to earn All-Star status. In his second NFL season, New York cornerback DARRELLE REVIS will make his Pro Bowl debut. Revis is tied for second in the NFL with five interceptions.

Two of the NFL’s elite will start at safety for the AFC. Pittsburgh’s strong safety TROY POLAMALU earns his fifth consecutive AFC All-Star berth and Ravens ball-hawking free safety ED REED is a five-time Pro Bowl choice in seven seasons. First-time Pro Bowl selection CHRIS HOPE of Tennessee will join starting safeties Polamalu and Reed.

The AFC special teams unit is comprised of four players, including two first-time Pro Bowl honorees. New York Jets kick returner LEON WASHINGTON makes his first trip to Hawaii and New England kicker STEPHEN GOSTKOWSKI, who leads the AFC with 124 points, will make his All-Star debut. Gostkowski is tied for first in the conference with 30 field goals. Baltimore linebacker BRENDON AYANBADEJO, who leads the Ravens with 26 special teams tackles, will serve as the AFC’s special teamer. Ayanbadejo makes his third consecutive Pro Bowl and his first with the Ravens. Concluding the special teams group will be Oakland’s veteran punter SHANE LECHLER. The four-time All-Star leads the AFC with a 48.8 average and has placed 28 punts inside the opponents’ 20-yard line.

The 42-man AFC squad is comprised of 21 offensive and 17 defensive players plus four specialists. A 43rd “need” player will be chosen by the AFC head coach and must be a cornerback, defensive end, linebacker or long snapper. The 2009 AFC coaching staff will be from the AFC Championship Game runner-up team.

The NFL is the only professional sports league that combines voting by fans, coaches and players in determining its All-Star teams. The consensus vote of each group counts one-third towards the total. Each team submits two ballots – those of the coach and the players with no one permitted to vote for a player on his own team. This year, nearly 85 million fan votes were cast on NFL.com.

The National Conference defeated the American Conference 42-30 last season in the Pro Bowl. The all-time series is tied 19-19.

Under terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each player on the winning Pro Bowl team receives $45,000, while each player on the losing squad earns $22,500.

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