It's first for McGahee: Pro Bowl invite after Tomlinson withdraws
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson withdrew from the Pro Bowl on Wednesday, paving the way for Baltimore Ravens running back Willis McGahee to receive his first appearance in the game.
McGahee, a second alternate, earned a trip to Hawaii because Tomlinson has a sprained knee. McGahee missed Baltimore's regular-season finale with broken ribs but has sufficiently recovered and is eager to be part of the AFC squad.
"It is an honor and a privilege to be going to the Pro Bowl, especially when your peers have a say in the matter," McGahee said in a statement. "It is a goal that I have had for a long time, and I am going to enjoy every second of this. To be going with three other Ravens is also special. They always told me the first Pro Bowl is always the most special. I can't wait to share this with my teammates."
In his first season with Baltimore, McGahee finished eighth in the NFL with 1,207 yards rushing on a career-high 294 carries. He also ranked third on the Ravens with 43 receptions (for 231 yards and a touchdown). He scored eight TDs.
Tomlinson, the two-time NFL rushing champion, was hurt in a 28-24 win over Indianapolis in the divisional playoffs. He re-injured his knee on the first play from scrimmage in the 21-12 loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game. He didn't play again after the Chargers' second possession.
Some fans and TV commentators questioned Tomlinson's toughness when he didn't return.
The Chargers didn't do Tomlinson any favors. It was announced in the press box early in the second quarter that Tomlinson had a "sore knee" and that he "can return."
Afterward, Tomlinson said: "It's obvious that I couldn't play. If I could have played, I would have been in there."
Asked about the situation the next day, coach Norv Turner said: "There was some miscommunication on whatever happens in the heat of the game. But shortly after the first quarter, I was not of the opinion that he would return to the game."
The day after the loss to the Patriots, Tomlinson said he wouldn't need surgery and that the injury would take four weeks to heal. The team said on Wednesday that it will take six weeks to heal.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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