Six New England Patriots, Tom Brady, Logan Mankins, Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo, Devin McCourty and Brandon Meriweather, have been named to the 2011 AFC Pro Bowl roster. If you ask Brady he'll likely tell you he hopes none of them get a chance to play in the game.
That's because the Patriots have bigger fish to fry than the Pro Bowl. With the NFL's all-star game taking place the week before the Super Bowl, any players on the two teams competing will be ineligible for Pro Bowl participation.
While a Pro Bowl nod is a nice honor, particularly for first-timers, the Patriots will gladly forgo the trip to Hawaii if it means making a trip to Dallas instead.
Nevertheless, the six Patriots chosen to represent the AFC are the most from any team.
Tom Brady was the NFL's leading vote-getter and is currently penciled in as the starter. With 34 touchdowns and only four interceptions Brady has all but locked up the NFL MVP award as well, so his Pro Bowl nod is no surprise. This marks his sixth time on the roster.
Guard Logan Mankins is a bit of a surprise considering his lengthy absence due to a contract dispute, but his play has been stellar. He earned league-wide recognition and has also been named a starter.
Defensive tackle Vince Wilfork is the lone starter from the defensive side of the ball. His recognition should also come as no surprise. He's been the Patriots' anchor on the line all season and is once again making a case for being the best defensive lineman in the NFL.
Jerod Mayo, Devin McCourty and Brandon Meriweather all made the team as reserves.
For Mayo and McCourty, this is their first Pro Bowl selection.
Mayo leads the NFL in tackles and is slated to serve as backup to Ray Lewis.
Devin McCourty caps off his sensational rookie campaign with the Pro Bowl selection. He's the first New England rookie to accomplish the feat since Curtis Martin.
Brandon Meriweather rounds out the list as a bit of a shock, seeing as he's been a role player in the secondary and has actually been a liability at times. This marks his second consecutive selection so name-recognition most likely played a role. Still he is among the better players at his position, so undeserved though it may be, farcical it is not.
The defense which has been so heavily scrutinized this season actually earned twice as many Pro Bowl selections as the offense. Given that the Patriots have the NFL's top offense, that should alleviate some fans' concerns about whether the defense can get it done when it matters.
If they can, they'll just have to skip out on their well-earned Pro Bowl appearances.