Michael Vick, Tom Brady voted Pro Bowl starters

By Dan Gelston

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 29 2010 2:07 a.m. MST

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning (18) passes against the Oakland Raiders in the third quarter of an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Dec. 26, 2010.

Marcio Jose Sanchez, Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA — Michael Vick's odyssey has taken him from Pro Bowl star to prison and back again.

Transforming from dogfighting ringleader to leader of the Philadelphia Eagles made a big impression with players and fans of the NFL — and not just in the city that chants "MVP!" at the sight of Vick's No. 7.

The Eagles quarterback, who sat out two seasons while serving a federal sentence for dogfighting, was voted to start for the NFC in the Jan. 30 Pro Bowl in Honolulu.

Vick was selected Tuesday in a leaguewide vote by NFL players, coaches and fans.

He made three Pro Bowls with Atlanta before he was suspended by the league and served jail time for running a dogfighting ring. This season, he has gone from a seldom-used backup to the NFC's leading passer, the catalyst for Philadelphia's dynamic offense.

He wasn't really interested in talking about the Pro Bowl after the Minnesota Vikings upset the NFC East champion Eagles 24-14 in the NFL's first Tuesday game since 1946.

"I'm not worried about the Pro Bowl right now," he said. "There's so many things going on in my head. I appreciate the Pro Bowl, but as of right now, I can't even focus on that. It's in oblivion right now."

Vick could use the relaxation if he gets to Hawaii. He's been battered in recent games and he looked gimpy in Tuesday's game, gingerly walking to the huddle and off the field most of the night. Vick sustained a quad contusion on the first play of the game.

He set career highs this season in yards passing (3,018), touchdowns passing (21) and touchdowns rushing (nine).

Besides Vick, the Eagles had four other players selected.

Atlanta, which leads the NFC at 12-3, had the most Pro Bowlers with seven, including quarterback Matt Ryan, receiver Roddy White and defensive end John Abraham.

New England (13-2), the AFC leader, had six Pro Bowlers, led by QB Tom Brady, the league's top passer who will make his sixth trip to the game — providing the Patriots don't make the Super Bowl. The game will be played the Sunday before the title game at Dallas Cowboys Stadium.

Baltimore, Green Bay and Dallas also had five players voted in.

Four rookies were chosen, with DT Ndamukong Suh of Detroit a starter for the NFC. Cornerback Devin McCourty of New England, kick returner Marc Mariani of Tennessee and center Maurkice Pouncey of Pittsburgh made the AFC squad.

"It's a tremendous honor, obviously being a rookie and getting my feet wet in the NFL," Suh said. "I can't expect anything more ... it's only going to make me want to work harder to get back there again."

Altogether, there were seven first-timers on the NFC squad and 14 newcomers for the AFC.

The only teams not represented were Buffalo, Cincinnati, Seattle and Tampa Bay.

Also chosen from the Eagles were receiver DeSean Jackson, tackle Jason Peters, cornerback Asante Samuel and placekicker David Akers.

"It's good but we have bigger things in mind," Jackson said.

The other Falcons were tight end Tony Gonzalez, fullback Ovie Mughelli, running back Michael Turner and special teamer Eric Weems.

Joining Brady in Honolulu from the Patriots will be McCourty; guard Logan Mankins, who missed a portion of the season in a contract dispute; linebacker Jerod Mayo; safety Brandon Merriweather; and nose tackle Vince Wilfork.

Starting for the NFC with Vick will be White and Detroit's Calvin Johnson at wide receiver, Dallas tight end Jason Witten, Atlanta's Turner and Mughelli in the backfield, Peters and Carolina's Jordan Gross at tackle, the Giants' Chris Snee and Saints' Jahri Evans at guard, and Dallas center Andre Gurode.

On defense for the NFC will be ends Julius Peppers of Chicago and Abraham, tackles Suh and Jay Ratliff of Dallas, linebackers Clay Matthews of Green Bay, DeMarcus Ware of Dallas and Patrick Willis of San Francisco, cornerbacks Samuel and Charles Woodson of Green Bay, and safeties Nick Collins of Green Bay and Adrian Wilson of Arizona.

The NFC punter is Dallas' Mat McBriar, while Chicago's Devin Hester is the kick returner.

Backup quarterbacks for the NFC are Ryan and Drew Brees.

"First off, it's truly an honor just to be in the conversation of being a Pro Bowl player, but to make it two years in a row, I'm real fortunate and appreciative for the opportunity," Matthews said. "Hopefully we'll be busy at the time."

Joining Brady on the AFC's starting offense will be receivers Reggie Wayne of Indianapolis and Andre Johnson of Houston, tight end Antonio Gates of San Diego, Jacksonville running back Maurice Jones-Drew and Houston fullback Vonta Leach, tackles Joe Thomas of Cleveland and Jake Long of Miami, guards Mankins and Kris Dielman of San Diego, and Jets center Nick Mangold.

The AFC's starting defense features Indianapolis ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, Wilfork and Baltimore tackle Haloti Ngata, linebackers Ray Lewis of Baltimore, James Harrison of Pittsburgh and Cameron Wake of Miami, cornerbacks Darrelle Revis of the Jets and Oakland's Nnamdi Asomugha, and safeties Troy Polamalu of Pittsburgh and Ed Reed of Baltimore.

"Wow, No. 12 feels like No. 1," Lewis said. "I tell my teammates that I am going to train to be a Pro Bowl player that season, and my focus paid off again this season. This never gets old."

Baltimore's Billy Cundiff is the placekicker, Oakland's Shane Lechler the punter, Mariani the kick returner and Montell Owens of Jacksonville the special teamer.

Colts quarterback Peyton Manning made his 11th Pro Bowl as a backup to Brady. He joined Brett Favre as the only quarterbacks selected to at least 11 games.

San Diego's Philip Rivers is the other AFC quarterback.

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