There's a game in Honolulu on Feb. 8 in which the AFC will face the NFC for ...
Bragging rights?
Hardly. In fact, the Pro Bowl was really played on Tuesday when the league announced the rosters, the only time when there is really any interest in the NFL's all-star game. ``He should have made it and he shouldn't have'' intone the experts. The players chime in, too.
Take safety Chris Hope of Tennessee, one of six Titans selected. He was upset because he thought the exalted status of the Titans merited 12, the number Dallas got on the original ballot last season.
``When a team like the Dallas Cowboys has a great season, they send half their team,'' he said.
Then there was London Fletcher, a stellar inside linebacker for 11 seasons for St. Louis, Buffalo and now Washington, but never a Pro Bowler. He was ignored again this year despite a solid season when the fans, players and coaches went for youth at inside linebacker for the NFC: San Francisco's Patrick Willis and Carolina's Jon Beason.
ck, I don't do some kind of dance when I make a 10-yard tackle, I don't go out and get arrested,'' a miffed Fletcher said. ``I believe in playing the game the way it's supposed to be played. You line up each and every week, each and every play, and you go out and get the job done.''
Fletcher isn't even the first alternate. That position is filled by the Giants' Antonio Pierce, who also was an undrafted free agent.
That means Fletcher has less chance of going than 20 or 25 other alternates. Every season, a lot of guys who go to Hawaii were often left out in the voting but go in place of injured players or multi-time Pro Bowlers who just want to stay home after a long season.
Some other musings on the selections:
BRETT AND CHAD: Brett Favre, 39, who leads the NFL in interceptions with 17, made the AFC squad for the first time after making the NFC nine times with Green Bay. He obviously was voted in on name value - Philip Rivers has better numbers and Chad Pennington has done more for Miami than Favre has done for the Jets.
That's one of the more interesting Pro Bowl conundrums.
Pennington, released by the Jets when they traded for Favre, landed in Miami and is one of the main reasons the Dolphins, 1-15 in 2007, will take the AFC East if they win their final two games, the last one against Favre and the Jets.
Consider if the Jets hadn't traded for Favre.
and Miami wouldn't, almost ensuring that the Dolphins would be under .500. Would the Jets be any worse off with Pennington at QB? Almost surely not - except Pennington might not have been New York's starter.
When New York obtained Favre, it was leaning toward starting Kellen Clemens at QB over Pennington because of the latter's not-so-strong arm.
What happens to the Jets when Favre retires and the other aging big-money signings run out of gas?
Don't ask.
LEGACIES: One of the NFC Pro Bowlers is Walter Jones, the Seattle left tackle who for a decade has been one of the NFL's best offensive linemen. It was the eighth straight selection for the 34-year-old Jones because good offensive lineman almost always make the team multiple times. Why? Once they are established, people vote for them automatically because they rarely watch offensive linemen.
The problem: Jones underwent knee surgery and has been less than his best all season for a team that is 3-11.
Another example: guard Alan Faneca of the Jets, who led all teams with seven selections. One of New York's many high-salaried free-agent signings, he's been having a decent season, not one of his best. But he makes it every year, so he made it again.
The always candid Tony Dungy noted after this year's selections that the norm is for players to make it a year or two too late and then keep going a year or two after they shouldn't.
`A lot of it is name recognition, and the hardest thing to do is go the first time,'' the Colts coach said. ``There are so many guys who deserve to go based on the year they have and they don't get to go that year. If there's anything disappointing about it to me, it's that.''
Still, there are 31 first-time Pro Bowlers, more than a third of the 84 players elected Tuesday. Either the voters are learning or the NFL's 24/7 exposure is contributing to more educated voters.
Two notable omissions are from Atlanta: quarterback Matt Ryan and defensive end/linebacker John Abraham.
That slash might be the reason Abraham was left off despite having 15 sacks, third in the NFL. He also doesn't play fulltime, a smart move because he has been injury prone for almost all his nine-season career.
Rookie quarterbacks just don't make the Pro Bowl. Statisically, he's close to Eli Manning, the third QB behind Kurt Warner and Drew Brees on the NFL team.
But he didn't win a Super Bowl MVP last season.

WINNING AND LOSING: Winners go, losers don't.
For example, the Giants had only one Pro Bowler last year even though they won the Super Bowl - most of the year they were struggling to make the playoffs.
efore the squad was announced, that unit allowed eight sacks to the Cowboys, although to be fair, most of the blame was probably on the outside blockers, not Snee and O'Hara.
But if you are bad ...
Detroit has had no Pro Bowlers the last two seasons. On merit, if you consider the Lions' 0-14 record this year and seven losses in eight games to finish last season.
They have one first alternate: kicker Jason Hanson, who will go if 44-year-old John Carney of the Giants, the oldest Pro Bowler ever, pulls out. ``The people that win and that are on TV always have Pro Bowlers,'' Hanson told the Detroit Free Press. ``Other than Thanksgiving, we're forgotten.''
Since Rod Marinelli took over as coach in 2006, the Lions have had just one Pro Bowler, wide receiver Roy Williams, who went that year as an alternate (remember all those guys who don't show up?). Williams is now in Dallas and nowhere near alternate status.
One Lion who should make it through the voting if the team ever gets better is wide receiver Calvin Johnson. He's a second alternate, so he might get to Hawaii this season if a couple of guys stay home; choose among Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Smith and Roddy White.
But he probably won't, leaving the Lions with the Jaguars, Bengals and Rams as the only teams with no representatives. Those four teams have a combined record of 9-46-1.
ayers on bad teams.
DIRTY DOZEN The top six and bottom six teams based on current level of play:
1. Pittsburgh (11-3). Three Pro Bowlers. But the Steelers know how to pull out games.
2. Tennessee (12-2). Six Pro Bowlers. Attribute the loss in Houston to a lack of energy.
3. New York Giants (11-3). Six Pro Bowlers. Two straight losses, but if they beat the Panthers this week, all is forgiven.
4. Carolina (11-3). Four Pro Bowlers. Trendy team, but 8-0 at home and 3-3 on the road with some ugly wins.
5. Indianapolis (10-4) Four Pro Bowlers. Trendy team that has the right history.
6. Dallas (9-5). Five Pro Bowlers. More realistic than last season.

27. Kansas City (2-12). Two old Pro Bowlers: Brian Waters, 31, and Tony Gonzalez, 32.
28. Cincinnati (2-11-1). No Pro Bowlers. Certainly not Chad.
29. Seattle (3-12). One injured 34-year-old Pro Bowler.
30. Oakland (3-11). Two Pro Bowlers. And a lot of high-priced disappointments.
31. St. Louis (2-12). No Pro Bowlers and not much hope.
32. Detroit (0-14). No Pro Bowlers. But being tied in the fourth quarter in Indy is some sort of positive sign.

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