Unger earns Pro Bowl start


By JOE FERRARO

Stephens Media

He struggled finding words to describe the honor.

After all, Max Unger never thought he’d play in the NFL when he attended Hawaii Prep eight years ago.

How about making a Pro Bowl?

“It wasn’t really in my realm of possibilities,” the 26-year-old Seattle Seahawks center Wednesday.

Unger was wrong.

After practice on Wednesday in Renton, Wash., Seahawks coach Pete Carroll informed Unger he was selected to play in the all-star game, which will take place Jan. 27 at Honolulu’s Aloha Stadium.

“It was pretty overwhelming,” Unger said. “I didn’t grow up thinking I would play in a Pro Bowl … It’s pretty crazy.”

Two of Unger’s teammates, offensive tackle Russell Okung and return specialist Leon Washington, also made the Pro Bowl roster as starters.

The 2004 Hawaii Prep graduate said someone on the team reminded him that the NFL would announce Pro Bowl starters this week, but Unger said he didn’t dwell on his chances of making the NFC team.

“You just don’t think about that stuff,” said Unger, a second-round draft pick in 2009. “It’s wasting energy. You try not to get your hopes up.”

Unger shared the special moment with his parents, Keith and Cynda, who flew to Seattle to watch last Sunday’s 42-13 Seahawks win over the San Francisco 49ers and this Sunday’s game between the Seahawks and the Arizona Cardinals. In fact, they already received the Pro Bowl news by the time he saw them after practice.

An Unger family reunion in Honolulu will hinge on the Seahawks’ postseason performance.

The Super Bowl follows the Pro Bowl on Feb. 3. Last year, N.Y. Giants and New England Patriots players named to the Pro Bowl did not attend the showcase because they were preparing for the Super Bowl.

“We’ll see how it shakes out in the playoffs,” Unger said.

With Unger and Okung anchoring the team’s offensive line, the Seahawks rank second in the NFL in rushing yards per game (161.7), sixth in yards per carry (4.8) and eighth in points scored (392).

A toe injury forced Unger to miss all but one game in 2010, but he has started in each of the 47 games he has played during his four-year career.

Unger is the first Hawaii-born player to be named a Pro Bowl starter since Olin Kreutz made the last of his six consecutive Pro Bowl appearances as a member of the Chicago Bears in 2006.

“Olin set the standard at the center position for a lot of years, so (following him is) pretty cool,” Unger said.

 

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