Eagles, Patriots lead Pro Bowl selections

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 19, 2003

This Pro Bowl stuff can get dangerous. Just ask Al Saunders.

The Kansas City offensive coordinator was cut over the left eye Thursday during the celebrations when the Chiefs found out fullback Tony Richardson was one of their eight players voted to the AFC team.

General manager Carl Peterson announced to the players that Richardson was a first-time Pro Bowler, and his teammates began swinging their arms and whooping and hollering.

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''T-Rich missed a couple of plays, he was so excited,'' said running back Priest Holmes, also a Pro Bowl selection and a prime beneficiary of Richardson's work. ''He grabbed our offensive coordinator and he bumped his head.''

Added Richardson: ''It makes you feel good. Everyone's real close around here. It's a family atmosphere.''

Other family members chosen for the Feb. 8 game in Honolulu were tight end Tony Gonzalez, quarterback Trent Green, kick returner Dante Hall, tackle Willie Roaf, guard Will Shields and safety Jerome Woods.

''Now we've got to win,'' coach Dick Vermeil said, ''because we have good football players. I have no place to hide. If we don't win, it's poor coaching.''

Also with eight players on the AFC roster was Baltimore. Ravens elected in voting by fans, players and coaches were linebackers Ray Lewis and Peter Boulware, running back Jamal Lewis, tight end Todd Heap, cornerback Chris McAllister, tackle Jon Ogden, safety Ed Reed and special teamer Adalius Thomas.

''I got real choked up when I found out after practice,'' said McAlister, who made it for the first time. ''I'm very grateful. It's a great individual accomplishment; I've been waiting for this day a long time, and to finally get the recognition is a blessing.''

The biggest surprises were the absence of LaDainian Tomlinson on the AFC team, beaten by Jamal Lewis, Holmes and Clinton Portis of Denver, and only two players selected from both New England and Philadelphia, which own the No. 1 seeds in their conferences.

Tomlinson, San Diego's star running back, was a first alternate even though he leads the NFL with 2,011 total yards from scrimmage.

''That just shows you what kind of respect we have around the NFL, which is none,'' Tomlinson said of the Chargers (3-11). ''If we want some, we've got to earn it ourselves. We've got to flat out, hands down, be better than other guys in stats. That's the way it's always going to be.''

The Eagles and Patriots have been better than everyone, but Philadelphia got only quarterback Donovan McNabb and cornerback Troy Vincent on the NFC team. New England's representatives are cornerback Ty Law and defensive lineman Richard Seymour.

''It is kind of bittersweet, because even though we have one of the best records in the league, we only had two guys get selected,'' Law said. ''It's sort of a shame, and it just goes to show you how we still have so little respect across the league.''

Some other surprises were the including of Dallas tackle Larry Allen and Giants tight end Jeremy Shockey on the NFC roster.

Allen has been troubled all year by injury and inconsistency, but once an offensive lineman makes it, he tends to get voted into the Pro Bowl even when he no longer is an impact player. Jets center Kevin Mawae, who made his fifth straight AFC team, also has struggled this year.

Shockey leads NFC tight ends with 48 receptions, but hasn't played since injuring a knee on Nov. 9.

Along with San Diego, Cleveland, Houston and defending AFC champion Oakland had no representatives. It was the first time since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 that the Raiders (4-10), did not have a Pro Bowler.

They expected punter Shane Lechler to be chosen, but he lost out to Tennessee's Craig Hentrich.

''Shane Lechler not making the Pro Bowl is a travesty!'' teammate Tim Brown said.

The only rookie was Cardinals wide receiver Anquan Boldin, whose 86 catches rank third in the NFC.

Joining Green as AFC quarterbacks were the Titans' Steve McNair, voted in for the first time, and Peyton Manning of Indianapolis. The other NFC quarterbacks were Brett Favre of Green Bay and Daunte Culpepper of Minnesota.

Starters will be announced later.