Final 2 Entitled to Skip Pro Bowl
INDIANAPOLIS - Nick Mangold and Jeff Saturday desperately wanted to avoid the Pro Bowl.
It wasn't because either center didn't want a relaxing week in Miami or the recognition for excellent play, which can be particularly tough for an offensive lineman to get.
But each player - both had been named to the AFC's roster - knew that if he was snapping the ball as an all-star, that would have meant he had missed out on the bigger prize.
Saturday got his wish when his Indianapolis Colts vanquished Mangold's New York Jets in the AFC Championship Game.
"Glad to make it, glad I'm not going to be there," said Saturday, who commiserated with Mangold on Sunday.
Six other Colts and seven New Orleans Saints doubtless felt the same way. One quirk of the NFL's experiment to play the Pro Bowl the week before Super Bowl XLIV this season is the necessity to exempt the stars who are playing in the NFL title game Feb. 7.
Among the 14 Super Bowl players to bypass the Pro Bowl are quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, who were voted as starters last month.
Colts and Saints Pro Bowlers still will have to be in Miami on Sunday as part of the pregame festivities, a requirement Colts President Bill Polian said was "stupid" during an interview with Indianapolis' 1070 The Fan on Tuesday.
Most of the Colts won't fly to Miami until Monday.
This year's format did create opportunities for other deserving players.
Washington Redskins linebacker London Fletcher will play in the game for the first time in his 12-year career after several close calls.
Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub, who led the NFL with 4,770 passing yards this season, was made the AFC starter after the loss of Manning and injuries to Tom Brady and Philip Rivers.