Cowboys put league-high 11 on Pro Bowl rosters; Taylor included posthumously

Updated: December 19, 2007, 4:59 AM ET
Associated Press

IRVING, Texas -- Forget the standings. The real star power of the Dallas Cowboys was revealed in the list of Pro Bowl selections.

Sure, Terrell Owens made the cut Tuesday, as did Jessica Simpson's new squeeze, Tony Romo. Reliable tight end Jason Witten -- remember his long gain without a helmet earlier this season? -- and hulking left tackle Flozell Adams were picked, too.

But, get this: Dallas had 11 honorees, matching the franchise record set back in the days when Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith already had won a Super Bowl.

The Cowboys not only had the most selections of any team in the league, they had three more than the headed-toward-perfection New England Patriots.

One of Dallas' picks isn't even a starter. And don't be surprised if at least one more member of "America's Team" makes it to Honolulu for the Feb. 10 game. Actually, a few more could go as four players were told they are first alternates.

"Wow," coach Wade Phillips said. Then, borrowing the trademark line of singer-songwriter Robert Earl Keen, he added: "The road goes on forever and the party never ends."

Fan voting certainly helped, as did the fact the Cowboys were 12-1 when rival teams and coaches cast their ballots. Regardless, the announcement made for a nice bit of celebration during a week that's otherwise been filled with talk of Roy Williams' suspension, Romo's love life and bruised hand, and whether the team is starting another December swoon.

"We got our juices flowing again," Phillips said. "I got a real feeling that we got back as a team, (got) over losing the game. Boom! We're excited about our team, our players, man, were excited for each other. You know, you get that feeling -- that's the team part of it, even though it's individuals making it."

Of all the players who made it from both leagues, one name really stands out: Sean Taylor.

The slain Washington Redskins safety was having a great year before being fatally wounded in a shooting at his home in Miami three weeks ago. His memory was honored with his selection.

Perhaps the NFC will take the honor a step further and open the game with 10 players on the field, as the Redskins did in their first game after his death.

"It is well-deserved," Washington center Casey Rabach said. "If he would have been able to finish the season, he would have been in there. It just shows the respect everybody around the league had for him and what a great player he was."

Taylor is believed to be the second person elected posthumously to an all-star game in a major American professional sports league. Philadelphia Flyers goalie Pelle Lindbergh was voted by fans to start in the 1986 NHL All-Star game after he was killed in an automobile accident on Nov. 11, 1985.

Taylor led the NFC with five interceptions at the time of his death, even though he had missed the previous two games because of a knee injury. He also was leading the Pro Bowl voting among fans at the time.

Tom Brady and Randy Moss were among the eight players chosen from unbeaten New England. Linebacker Mike Vrabel was picked for the first time in his 11-year career.

The Pats and Cowboys each have seven starters, although that includes a kicker for Dallas.

Among the anomalies: Zero players chosen from the entire NFC South and no members of the 10-4 Jacksonville Jaguars. The last time the Jags were shut out was 1995, their expansion year.

Detroit and the New York Jets also failed to place a single member on the all-star squads.

Green Bay, tied with Dallas at the top of the NFC, had four players on the team, including Brett Favre, who will start at quarterback (ahead of Romo). It is the ninth Pro Bowl for the 38-year-old Favre, his first since 2003.

San Diego, like New England, had eight players chosen. Minnesota was second in the NFC with seven, including rookie Adrian Peterson, who leads the conference in rushing.

Super Bowl MVP Peyton Manning of Indianapolis was picked as Brady's backup. Four other Colts made it, including safety Bob Sanders, receiver Reggie Wayne and center Jeff Saturday as starters. Running back Joseph Addai rounds out the crew.

Jared Allen of Kansas City, suspended for the first two games of the season after multiple drunken driving convictions, will be a starting defensive end for the AFC.

Albert Haynesworth of Tennessee, suspended for five games last season after stomping on the head of Dallas' Andre Gurode during a game, made the AFC team at defensive tackle. He will play against Gurode, the starting center for the NFC.

Dallas' other picks includes only one defensive starter, linebacker DeMarcus Ware; left tackle Flozell Adams and right guard Leonard Davis. The pick of Davis shows the Cowboys knew what they were doing when they gave him a $16 million signing bonus.

Speaking of reserves, running back Marion Barber backs up Julius Jones in Dallas, but he was still voted among the league's best.

Any chance of a promotion, coach Phillips?

"I think he's excited where he is," Phillips said. "It says a great deal about him. But it says more about how he plays once he gets in the game and gets an opportunity to play."

Williams, Dallas' hard-hitting safety who is in jeopardy of missing the next game because of too many "horse-collar" tackles, has made four straight Pro Bowls. His fifth selection might be close since someone will have to take Taylor's spot. The only wrinkle might be that Taylor played free safety; Williams is a strong safety.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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