POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Dec 28, 2011
NEW YORK » Tom Brady is one of eight Patriots and Patrick Willis one of eight 49ers to make the Pro Bowl, the most on each roster.
Defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay (14-1), led by starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and Baltimore (11-4), led by veteran linebacker Ray Lewis, have seven apiece for the Jan. 29 game in Honolulu, the NFL announced Tuesday.
Brady is one of seven starters from New England (12-3). The others are receiver Wes Welker, tight end Rob Gronkowski, defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, defensive end Andre Carter, and guards Brian Waters and Logan Mankins. Special teamer Matthew Slater is the other New England representative. Linebacker Willis, defensive end Justin Smith, cornerback Carlos Rogers and tackle Joe Staley will start for the NFC from the 49ers (12-3), who had only Smith and Willis make the Pro Bowl last year.
Green Bay’s Rodgers is the starting NFC quarterback, backed by record-setting Drew Brees of New Orleans (12-3).
“It does have special significance, because when I was voted in in 2009, I was the third guy and I was very thankful to be voted in, and got the opportunity to start because of some injuries and guys not going,” Rodgers said. “It’s great to be voted in as a starter, that means a lot to me and it’s a special honor.”
Four of the NFL’s biggest headline makers this season did not get voted in by players, coaches and fans: Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, Steelers linebacker James Harrison, Panthers rookie quarterback Cam Newton, and Denver’s Tim Tebow.
Players who make the Super Bowl will be replaced on the Pro Bowl rosters.