Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb, one of the leading candidates for NFL MVP, failed to make the NFC Pro Bowl roster.
Kurt Warner and Brian Griese, who missed a good portion of the season with injuries, made the NFC and AFC teams at quarterback.
Tennessee and Tampa Bay had the most representatives with eight, and Minnesota had seven. Six of the Bucs are starters, but only three of the Titans are starters. One of the Tennessee starters is 39-year-old guard Bruce Matthews, who tied Reggie White with a record 13th straight appearance.
Dallas’ Emmitt Smith, who last week became the third player to go over 15,000 yards rushing for his career, was left off the NFC squad in favor of Minnesota’s Robert Smith, St. Louis’ Marshall Faulk and San Francisco’s Charlie Garner.
There were some strange choices.
Tampa Bay’s Mike Alstott, who has missed the last three games with injury and had been seeing less playing time before that because of fumbles, made the NFC team at fullback — even though he’s primarily played running back.
But the biggest surprise was the absence of McNabb, beaten out by Minnesota’s Daunte Culpepper, who will start; Jeff Garcia of San Francisco, a 5-9 team; and Warner, last year’s regular-season and Super Bowl MVP, who missed 5½ games with a broken finger.
One reason could be the fan vote, which comprises a third of the voting pool. Coaches’ and players’ votes comprise the other two-thirds. Many of the votes were cast before the past few weeks, when McNabb has been at his best in leading the Eagles, 8-24 the past two years, to a playoff spot.
Fans also tend to vote for name players such as Warner, Griese and Tony Boselli, the Jacksonville offensive tackle who made the team although he’s been less than his best while recovering from major knee surgery.
Griese, Manning Follow Fathers
The Vikings’ explosive skill players — Culpepper, wide receivers Cris Carter and Randy Moss and running back Robert Smith — all made it. So did strong safety Robert Griffith and two offensive linemen: tackle Korey Stringer and center Matt Birk, who will back up Minnesota’s center of the past few years, Jeff Christy, who now plays for Tampa Bay.
Griese, who hasn’t played since separating a shoulder Nov. 13 and probably will miss the rest of the regular season, is a backup at quarterback for the AFC. Oakland’s Rich Gannon is the starter and Indianapolis’ Peyton Manning is the other backup.
Griese and Manning are the fourth and fifth players to join their fathers (Archie Manning and Bob Griese) on Pro Bowl rosters. The others were Bert and Dub Jones, Ernie and Erik McMillan, and Eric and Terry Metcalf.
Five teams do not have players in the game, to be played Feb. 4 in Honolulu: Atlanta and Chicago in the NFC, and Seattle, Cleveland and New England in the AFC. Arizona has only its punter, Scott Player.
The Seahawks, 5-9 this season after winning the AFC West last year, didn’t have a player on the Pro Bowl roster for the first time since 1980. Last season, offensive tackle Walter Jones, defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy and linebacker Chad Brown of the Seahawks were on the AFC Pro Bowl team.