Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE
The Cincinnati Bengals are sending two players to the 2013 Pro Bowl with four alternates.
Being named as a starter to the Pro Bowl isn't so much about the game. No one cares about the game. Players enjoy the trip to Hawaii, perhaps some camaraderie with peers and in some cases, meeting one's heroes. But no one really cares about the actual game, despite it still being a ratings draw, which is primarily the reason that Commissioner Goodell's threat to end the annual game rang so hollow.
Being named to the Pro Bowl is more importantly about recognition, being honored and recognized among your peers, as well as the fans, as being the best players in the game today. No one remembers what Anthony Munoz did in the Pro Bowl, only that he was an 11-time Pro Bowler. A point to building one's resume so when someone looks back, they are further honored as being one of the best players during the generation and era that player played.
Two Bengals players were named to the 2013 Pro Bowl team, starting with wide receiver A.J. Green, currently with 95 receptions for 1,324 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns. With only (only) 117 yards receiving this Sunday, Green can break Chad Johnson's franchise record for most yards receiving in a single season. This is A.J. Green's second Pro Bowl in only his second season in the NFL.
However Green won't be going alone, like last year before later being joined by three alternates. And Green threatened (jokingly of course) to boycott the game if defensive tackle Geno Atkins wasn't included.
"I told a lot of people there was going to be a boycott if he didn’t make it this year because he’s playing out of his mind," said Green of Atkins. "It’s great to have a fellow teammate and another Georgia Bulldog out there, somebody I can hang out with. It’s good to have him there."
Atkins currently has 12.5 quarterback sacks (had .5 sack removed from the Steelers game on Wednesday), crushing the defensive tackle field with most sacks by an interior defensive lineman. This is also Atkins' second Pro Bowl in as many seasons and well deserved. Atkins will be joined with Vince Wilfork as starters at defensive tackle, dumping Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata to a backup role.
"We’re happy for both guys; it’s a great honor from fellow players and coaches and the voting fans," said Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis. "They’ll represent us well if they’re in the game, but I have to add that it’s our goal to make them both unavailable (by the team advancing to the Super Bowl)."
Andrew Whitworth and Jermaine Gresham were each named as first alternates while Leon Hall and Andy Dalton were named third alternates. You might as well pencil Gresham as another Pro Bowler with Heath Miller, named to the 2013 roster, having gone on IR with a knee injury.
The Baltimore Ravens leads the AFC North with six players selected, while the Cleveland Browns (2), Pittsburgh Steelers (2) and Cincinnati Bengals (2) match the Ravens combined. Houston has the most players in the Pro Bowl with eight and the San Francisco 49ers are sending nine.