Brett Favre and Peyton Manning already were Pro Bowl regulars when they were selected to this season’s game Tuesday.
Favre was among eight Minnesota Vikings who made the NFC team, while Manning was one of six Indianapolis Colts on the AFC squad. It will be Favre’s 11th Pro Bowl and the 10th for Manning. No other quarterbacks have been to 10 all-star games.
Favre will be a backup to New Orleans’ Drew Brees, the NFL’s top-rated passer. The other NFC quarterback will be Aaron Rodgers, who replaced Favre in Green Bay last year.
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“When you are voted in as a quarterback, you really represent the entire offense and the team,” Brees said, "because there isn’t anything I can accomplish without the offensive line, running backs, tight ends and wide receivers. So this is a recognition of what we’ve been able to achieve as a unit, and I’ve been thrilled to be a part of an offense that has worked together so well this season." Tennessee running back Chris Johnson, the league’s leading rusher, also made the AFC team, along with NFL receptions leader Wes Welker of New England. Manning will be backed up at quarterback by New England’s Tom Brady and San Diego’s Philip Rivers.
All six of the quarterbacks made the playoffs and, of course, would prefer to be playing in the Super Bowl on Feb. 7 in Miami. The Pro Bowl has been moved to the previous Sunday at Dolphin Stadium, and no Super Bowl participants will play in the all-star game.
Vikings RB Adrian Peterson, the league’s top scorer among non-kickers, will be in the NFC backfield. The other Vikings who made it: wide receiver Sidney Rice, defensive end Jared Allen, guard Steve Hutchinson, defensive tackle Kevin Williams, special teamer Heath Farwell and tackle Bryant McKinnie. Dallas and Philadelphia, which meet for the NFC East title on Sunday, had the next most players on the NFC roster with six each, followed by top-seeded New Orleans with five. There were 13 first-timers chosen in the NFC in voting by fans, coaches and players.
Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers has earned another $1.5 million by making his fifth Pro Bowl, pushing his NFL-high salary to $18.2 million this season. Peppers has 10 1/2 sacks and was voted an NFC starter.
Nobody made it from the Falcons, Seahawks, Buccaneers or Lions.
The other Colts on the AFC roster were tight end Dallas Clark, defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, wide receiver Reggie Wayne and center Jeff Saturday.
San Diego, Denver and Baltimore each had five players chosen for the AFC team. There were eight newcomers in the AFC, while Cincinnati was the only division champion with no Pro Bowlers. Kansas City was the other AFC team without one, for the first time since 1978.
Bengals wideout Chad Ochocinco wasn’t too concerned about the snub.
“Just been informed myself nor any of my teammates made the Pro Bowl-bengal fans we wouldn’t be abe to play in it anyway! SUPER BOWL BABY!!!” Johnson said on Twitter.
Two rookies made the AFC team, Houston linebacker Brian Cushing and Buffalo safety Jairus Byrd, who is on injured reserve.
“I’m just thrilled,” Cushing said. “It’s one of those things you always look forward to growing up playing football. When coach called me today I was just beyond ecstatic. I couldn’t believe that it actually happened.”
Washington LB Brian Orakpo is the lone rookie on the NFC squad. Orakpo is the first Redskins rookie selected for the Pro Bowl in 31 years.
"It really humbles me, because it shows people are watching and really know what I can do out there," Orakpo said. "I appreciate this honor and hopefully will get some more in the future — and turn this team around, as well."
Record-setting kick returner Joshua Cribbs made the AFC team and joked it might help his stalled contract negotiations. Cribbs is planning to take most of the members of Cleveland’s return units with him to the Pro Bowl.
"I hope I get that contract so I can afford it," he said, laughing. "It’s the least I can do for a job well done. I can’t leave those guys behind, they deserve it as much as I do. I’ve got to take care of my guys."