Waimea’s Unger secures another Pro Bowl selection


Associated Press

If the Seattle Seahawks fail to reach the Super Bowl, center Max Unger will have a nice consolation prize: a trip to the Pro Bowl.

Unger, a 2004 Hawaii Prep graduate from Waimea, was voted into the NFL’s all-star game for the second straight year Friday. It’s the second consecutive season that the Seahawks have had six players picked for the Pro Bowl, but this year Unger was the only member selected from an offensive line that’s opened up holes for the league’s fourth-best rushing attack. Running back Marshawn Lynch, another Pro Bowler, ranks sixth in the NFL with 1,160 yards.

Unger, a second-round pick out of the University of Oregon in 2009, missed three games earlier this season with injury but is slated to make his 13th start of the year Sunday when postseason-bound Seattle (12-3) hosts the St. Louis Rams with a chance to earn home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

If the Seahawks advance to the Super Bowl, Unger would miss out on his Hawaii homecoming.

The Pro Bowl is scheduled for Jan. 26 at Honolulu’s Aloha Stadium. The NFL combines votes from fans, players and coaches to determine 86 of 88 Pro Bowl players; the other two players are long-snappers selected by Pro Bowl coaches. Voting ended Thursday.

Under a new format this year, NFL greats Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders will divvy up the players in a two-day draft before the game. Offensive and defensive players with the most votes who don’t make it past the divisional playoff round will serve as active player captains.

The Chiefs and 49ers each eight players voted into the Pro Bowl, including running backs Jamaal Charles of Kansas City and Frank Gore of San Francisco.

Denver quarterback Peyton Manning was selected to his 13th Pro Bowl after receiving the most votes among fans, 1.43 million. New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees was second among fans with 1.2 million votes.

Charles said Friday night on a reveal show on the NFL Network that he should be picked first.

The Tribune-Herald contributed to this report.

“I think I got the best skillset of anybody on the roster,” Charles said. “I think I can play wide receiver and then put the ball in my hand, also. The only thing I can’t do is throw the ball.”

Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly said he’ll be fine wherever he’s picked.

“I don’t know, you got to get the guy who scores points,” he said.

The schoolyard-style selections mean it’s likely teammates will be forced to play on opposite sides. Players on the winning team will earn $53,000 while the losers will get $26,000 under the collective bargaining agreement.

San Francisco linebacker NaVorro Bowman said he thinks it would be weird to have to tackle Gore or Pro Bowl tight end Vernon Davis.

“I might not tackle him,” Bowman said. “Just let him score and get his yards or whatever. Yeah, that’d be weird because that hasn’t happened since training camp.”

Rice and Sanders playfully bantered about possible selections, with Sanders saying he wanted players on his roster who haven’t been to many Pro Bowls.

“If you have five years or more, don’t even worry about it I’m not going to pick you,” Sanders said. “Go play for Jerry.”

Rice said later: “You’re trying to bait me — that’s not going to happen.”

Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman received 552,600 votes by fans, the most for any defensive player. Houston defensive end J.J. Watt had just under 410,000 fan votes.

San Francisco is set to send eight players to the game for the second year in a row, though its players missed the game earlier this year because they made the Super Bowl, losing to Baltimore.

Kansas City’s eight selections are up from six last year. The Chiefs are 11-4 this year — up from 2-14 last year — and the No. 5 seed in the AFC playoffs heading into a largely meaningless game for them against San Diego on Sunday.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Friday he has never been big on Pro Bowl selections.

“I’m happy for the guys when and if they make it. I’m proud of them for it,” Reid said. “But we don’t get caught up in all of the individual accolades. (We’re) just getting ourselves ready to play.”

Manning was one of five players selected from Denver, which has a shot at putting up the most points of any team in NFL history.

All but five teams had at least one player selected. Atlanta, Green Bay, Jacksonville and both New York teams had zero players selected.

 

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