Pro Bowlers react to honors

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- On Tuesday evening, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick delivered the news to six of his players that they had been elected to the Pro Bowl. Only the Atlanta Falcons, with seven selections initially, will send more players to the game.

Cornerback Devin McCourty reacted to receiving the honor on Wednesday, saying that he immediately received text messages and phone calls from excited friends and family members once the news broke.

“[I was] not really as surprised as just excited and a little nervous,” McCourty said. “You watch that game as a kid. It’s like a dream come true.”

McCourty became just the fourth rookie in the NFL this season to be elected to the game, and only the fourth rookie in Patriots history to earn the honor.

“I don’t know if there’s many people who come into the season as a rookie and expect all of this to happen,” McCourty said. “It’s an honor to know other guys that play in this league and other coaches think you’re a good player."

Meanwhile, linebacker Jerod Mayo was named to the Pro Bowl for the first time in his three-year career.

“I was very excited. It was my first one,” Mayo said. “It was a great honor.”

Defensive lineman Vince Wilfork was named to his third career Pro Bowl, but echoed the sentiments of other veterans selected to the game that there were other deserving teammates.

“There are other guys in here who easily could have been going to the Pro Bowl, too,” Wilfork said. “I’m happy for the young guys, maybe happier for them than they are themselves.”

For a second straight season the game will be played the week prior to the Super Bowl, meaning players on teams who reach the Super Bowl will not participate in the Pro Bowl.

“You really don’t want to play in the game,” Mayo said. “You want to keep playing those postseason games.”