LaDainian Tomlinson, Jason Taylor and Champ Bailey capped superb
seasons by unanimously making The Associated Press NFL All-Pro team
Tomlinson, San Diego's record-setting running back, also won the
AP Most Valuable Player and Offensive Player of the Year awards.
Miami end Taylor was the Defensive Player of the Year.
Bailey tied for the league lead with 10 interceptions even
though opponents tried to avoid throwing to the Broncos
cornerback's side of the field.
"My whole idea to go out on a Sunday is to be a pain in the
butt for the other team," said Taylor, who had 62 tackles, 13½ sacks, 14 quarterback hurries, two interceptions -- both returned
for TDs -- 11 passes defensed, 10 fumbles forced and two fumbles
"If I can be a pain in their butt and give somebody a headache,
then more times than not, it's going to work out well for myself."
It worked out so well for him, Tomlinson -- who set NFL records
for points with 186, touchdowns with 31 and TDs rushing with 28 --
and Bailey that they received all 50 votes from a nationwide panel
of sports writers and broadcasters who cover the NFL.
Two others, both Chicago Bears, came close to sweeping the vote.
Devin Hester, who set a league mark with six kick returns for
touchdowns, was the only rookie on the team, earning 48½ votes.
Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, a repeater from last year, got
Asked about the respect he was shown as a rookie, Hester said:
"Right, most definitely. I really didn't want to look into this
season. I just kind of wanted to establish myself and feel at home.
Toward the offseason, that's when I really start looking at some
stuff like that."
In all, the Chargers had the most All-Pros with five: Tomlinson,
tight end Antonio Gates, fullback Lorenzo Neal, defensive tackle
Jamal Williams and linebacker Shawne Merriman, who made it despite
serving a four-game suspension for violating the league's steroids
policy. Merriman still wound up with a league-best 17 sacks.
The Bears were next with four All-Pros: Urlacher, Hester, center
Olin Kreutz and kicker Robbie Gould.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees edged the Colts' Peyton Manning 25
votes to 24 for the quarterback spot. It was the first time since
2002 that Manning was not the first-team quarterback.
Brees engineered the turnaround in New Orleans from 3-13 to 10-6
and an NFC South division title.
He was joined on the All-Pro squad by Saints second-year tackle
Kansas City's Larry Johnson was selected in the backfield with
Brees, a former Charger, and the two San Diego backs.
The wideouts are Marvin Harrison of Indianapolis and
Chad Johnson of Cincinnati.
Another Bengal, tackle Willie Anderson, is on the offensive
line, where he's joined by Philadelphia guard Shawn Andrews and
Pittsburgh guard Alan Faneca.
Taylor anchors a defense also featuring end Carolina end Julius Peppers, Minnesota tackle Kevin Williams, Baltimore linebacker
Adalius Thomas, Miami linebacker Zach Thomas, Jacksonville
cornerback Rashean Mathis, Philadelphia safety Brian Dawkins and
Baltimore safety Ed Reed.
"It means a lot," said Adalius Thomas, a first-time All-Pro.
"It's a tribute not to myself, but to a lot of the guys up front.
I don't think you could have a good linebacking corps without good
defensive linemen. That's a tribute to Kelly Gregg, Haloti Ngata,
Trevor Pryce and all those guys and the other linebackers, Ray
Lewis, Bart Scott and Terrell Suggs."
Buffalo's Brian Moorman is the punter.
Repeaters from 2005 are Gates, Chad Johnson, Anderson, Faneca,
Jamal Williams, Urlacher, Bailey and Moorman.
In all, there are 18 AFC players and 10 from the NFC.