London Fletcher not selected for 2011 Pro Bowl
Four of the NFL's biggest headline makers this season did not get voted in by players, coaches and fans: Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, Steelers linebacker James Harrison, Panthers rookie quarterback Cam Newton, and Denver quarterback 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 quarterback Colt McCoy might have reduced his support.
Fifteen first-time Pro Bowl selections 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' Graham, the starter at the position and a first-time Pro Bowl player. "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."
NFC special-teamers included two 49ers: Lee and record-setting kicker David Akers; Peterson; and Corey Graham of Chicago.
For the AFC, the Raiders' Sebastian Janikowski is the kicker, 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 running back LeSean McCoy, Packers fullback John Kuhn, Graham, Panthers center Ryan Kalil, Saints guards Jahri Evans and Carl Nicks, Eagles tackle Jason Peters and Staley, Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson on offense.
"I think it's the fact that I'm versatile at fullback," Kuhn said when asked why he was selected. "I can play the traditional fullback role and lead block, and the coaches also entrust the ball-carrying opportunities that I have. I think the combination of the two of those really gets my name out there."
On defense, it will be Vikings end Jared Allen and Eagles end Jason Babin, Cowboys tackle Jay Ratliff and Smith, Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews and Cowboys outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware, inside linebacker Willis, Packers cornerback Charles Woodson and Rogers, Seahawks safety Earl Thomas and Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson.
AFC starters will be Brady, Ravens running back Ray Rice and fullback Vonta Leach, Gronkowski, Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey, Mankins and Waters at guard, Browns tackles Joe Thomas and Dolphins tackle Jake Long, Welker and Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace.
On defense, it will be Broncos end Elvis Dumervil replacing Carter, Colts end Dwight Freeney, Wilfork and Ravens tackle Haloti Ngata, Miller and Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, Lewis, Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis and Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey, Steelers safety Troy Polamalu and Reed.
"What makes it special to me now is I'm in my 13th year, and you don't see guys going to the Pro Bowl this late in their career," Bailey said. "For me to be able to do it, it feels good, and it feels like I've got a lot more left. It feels good that I'm still playing at a high level."
Would you like to contribute to this story? Join the discussion.