Thursday, December 23, 2004

Bailey and Lynch Earn Pro Bowl Nods

By Andrew Mason and Mike Sarro,
When Denver added Champ Bailey and John Lynch to the roster last March, the club knew it was adding two quality players.

Nine months later, they're the Broncos' only Pro Bowlers.

Bailey and Lynch were both selected to the AFC All-Star roster for the Pro Bowl on Wednesday, marking the fifth and sixth selections for each defensive back, respectively.

As a member of the Washington Redskins, Bailey made the trip to Hawaii after each of the past four seasons. But making it a fifth consecutive trip didn't weigh heavily on his mind in the day prior to the selection announcement.

"I just want to win," he said. "We've got to get in these playoffs. Forget the Pro Bowl. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, it doesn't."

His head coach vouched for his case.

"I'll be honest with you, of course I do (think Bailey deserves to go)," Mike Shanahan said. "He's one of the best corners in the league, if not the best. But that's neither here nor there."

For Lynch, the selection marks a return to the islands for Lynch, who missed last year's game after qualifying after the 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002 seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Denver has had a defensive player named to the Pro Bowl every year since 1989. But the Broncos' offense was shut out. Unless any players are added as alternates in the next seven weeks, the Broncos will be without an offensive Pro Bowler for the second time in three years after having at least one offensive player selected for each of the previous 13 Pro Bowls.

Linebacker Al Wilson and center Tom Nalen were passed over after earning nods following last season. Wilson was added as an alternate on Jan. 22 after being passed over in the primary selection, giving him a streak of three consecutive Pro Bowls. Nalen's selection last year was his fourth in the previous seven years.

At the conclusion of the fan voting on Dec. 17, Bailey and Lynch led their respective positions (cornerback and free safety, specifically) in the voting. Bailey received 263,863 votes -- fifth-best among all defensive players -- while Lynch garnered 119,680. The total fan vote counts as one-third of the Pro Bowl ballot tally. One-third of the vote comes from the players, and the other third from NFL coaches. Players and coaches cast their ballots over the weekend.

You can catch the announcement of both the AFC and NFC Pro Bowl rosters this evening at 5 p.m. (MST) on the 2005 Pro Bowl Selection Show on ESPN. The game will be played in Hawaii on Sunday, Feb. 13 and televised by ESPN at 5:30 p.m. (MST).

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