Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski lead a Patriots parade of Pro Bowlers
|12.26.12 at 7:31 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Another playoff season, another record-setting campaign of offense and another season of heavy Patriots representation on the AFC squad at the Pro Bowl. Now, all the Patriots want more is to politely decline the invites for the seven players because they’ll be getting ready for the Super Bowl, as was the case last season.
Quarterback Tom Brady, tight end Rob Gronkowski, left guard Logan Mankins, inside linebacker Jerod Mayo, special teams captain Matthew Slater, wide receiver Wes Welker and nose tackle Vince Wilfork have been selected to represent the Patriots and the AFC in the 2013 Pro Bowl.
‘It is flattering to be selected, but I have always considered Pro Bowl recognition as a reflection of the team’s overall success,” Brady said. “I am happy for my many teammates who were selected again this year. I know that there are many others who are equally deserving of the opportunity. One day, I am sure I will have a greater appreciation for individual accomplishments, but this week my focus is simply on our preparations for Miami.’
Here is a sampling of other Pro Bowlers from Wednesday:
Wilfork: To be selected to my fifth Pro Bowl is amazing. I am honored and humbled. More importantly, I am proud that the other guys on my team are getting the recognition they deserve.
Mayo: It’s an honor to be recognized by my peers, the coaches and the fans, but it’s more of an honor to be one of seven of my teammates going to Hawaii, since that is a reflection of our overall team success. We’ll all enjoy the recognition tonight with our families and be right back to focusing on the Dolphins in the morning.
Slater: I am very thankful to be selected to the Pro Bowl. God has blessed me with this opportunity and the ability to stay healthy. I have a lot of people to thank. An honor like this does not come without your teammates next to you making plays. I want to thank coach Belichick for believing in me and taking a chance on me so I can live out my childhood dreams of playing in the NFL. Coach Scott O’Brien has pretty much changed my career with the way he teaches and coaches me. I also need to thank Joe Judge for what he has been able to teach me.
Mankins: We have a lot of guys who earned the honor this year, so that is pretty cool. It’s always nice to have your peers, coaches and fans select you to the Pro Bowl. Getting voted in is always a reflection of our team success. While I do appreciate this recognition, we need to get ready and keep our focus on the game this week against Miami.
No one on the Patriots has more experience accepting the honor than Brady. It is his eighth Pro Bowl selection (2001, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012). Mankins (2007, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012), Welker (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012) and Wilfork (2007, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012) are next at five apiece.
Gronkowski and Slater earned their second straight Pro Bowl invitations, while Mayo (2010 and 2012) also earned a Pro Bowl berth for the second time.
Gronkowski, Mankins, Mayo and Wilfork were selected as starters.
The Pro Bowl will be played on Jan. 27, 2013 at Aloha Stadium in Hawaii, and the Patriots are hoping they won’t be available for the game because the Super Bowl is one week later in New Orleans.
Brady was named to the Pro Bowl for the eighth time, including four straight seasons. John Hannah (9) is the only Patriots player with more Pro Bowls than Brady. Brady enters the final week of the season with 4,543 yards passing and 32 touchdowns. Brady became just the fifth player in NFL history to reach 4,000 yards in five or more seasons and the fifth player with at least 30 or more touchdown passes in four seasons. Brady needs one touchdown pass in the season finale vs. Miami to extend his streak to 48 straight games with at least one touchdown pass and move past Johnny Unitas (47) for the second longest streak behind Drew Brees (54). He will also become the first NFL player to throw at least one touchdown pass in all 16 games for three consecutive seasons.
Gronkowski is going to his second Pro Bowl. Despite missing the last five games, Gronkowski leads all NFL tight ends with 10 touchdowns on 53 receptions for 748 yards. He is the first tight end in NFL history to have three straight 10-plus touchdown seasons after his 10 in 2010, 18 in 2011 and 10 in 2012. Gronkowski had three 100-yard games in 2012 to increase his career total to nine, tying Ben Coates for the most 100-yard games by a New England tight end.
Mankins is going to his fifth Pro Bowl, including his fourth consecutive. He went to his first Pro Bowl in 2007 when he became the first Patriots guard to earn a Pro Bowl selection since 1985 when Pro Football Hall of Famer John Hannah went to his ninth career Pro Bowl. The Fresno State product is in his eighth season with the Patriots since being selected in the first round (32nd overall) of the 2005 NFL Draft. Since entering the starting lineup in 2005, Mankins has helped the New England offense finish in the Top 10 on offense six times. The 2012 New England offense is currently ranked first in the NFL.
Mayo earned his second Pro Bowl honor after being selected for the first time in 2010. Mayo enters the final week of the season with a team-leading 179 total tackles. He is the first Patriots player to start his career with five straight 100-tackle seasons and his five straight 100-tackle seasons are tied with Lawyer Milloy and Vincent Brown for second, behind the six straight 100-tackle seasons by Fred Marion. Mayo has registered 10 or more tackles in 10 of the first 15 games to tie a career-high. He also had ten 10-tackle games in 2010.
Slater is going to his second Pro Bowl. He enters the final week of the season with a team-leading 20 special teams tackles, one behind his career-high of 21 special teams tackles set in 2010. Slater, a Special Teams Captain for the last two seasons, has been a productive member of the Patriots special teams units since joining the team as a fifth round draft pick out of UCLA in 2008. He has led the Patriots in special teams tackles for the past two seasons with 21 in 2010 and 17 in 2011.
Welker has been selected to the Pro Bowl five straight seasons. He enters the final week of the season with 110 receptions for 1,260 yards and five touchdowns. Welker became the first player in NFL history with five 100-catch seasons. Welker also added four 10-catch games in 2012 to set an NFL record with 18-career 10-catch games. He extended his team record with his fifth 1,000-yard season. He also became the Patriots’ all-time leader in receptions, surpassing Troy Brown in Week 2 vs. Arizona.
Wilfork earned his fifth Pro Bowl selection overall and fourth straight Pro Bowl honor. Since being selected in the first round (21st overall) of the 2004 draft out of Miami, Wilfork has helped the Patriots defense finish in the top 10 in points allowed on six occasions (2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010). The Patriots own a 106-31 (.774) record in Wilfork’s 137 career regular-season games.