The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will not be sending any players to the Pro Bowl for the first time since 1995.
That news came on Tuesday evening when the National Football League announced the 2008 Pro Bowl rosters for the AFC and NFC squads.
Some might be surprised by the fact that Tampa Bay didn't have a single player selected to the Pro Bowl since the 9-5 Buccaneers have already won the 2007 NFC South division title and secured a spot in the playoffs.
Last year, the Bucs sent three players to the Pro Bowl after having a 4-12 season, their worst since 1991.
The Bucs weren't the only team to get shut out of the Pro Bowl. A total of seven teams did not have a single player voted to the Pro Bowl. In fact, no players from the NFC South division (Atlanta, Carolina, New Orleans, Tampa Bay) were voted to the Pro Bowl on Tuesday.
The 12-2 Dallas Cowboys led the league in players voted to the Pro Bowl with 11.
Tuesday's announcement ends Tampa Bay weakside linebacker Derrick Brooks' streak of making 10 straight Pro Bowls unless one of the NFC linebackers voted to the NFL all-star game, Julian Peterson (Seattle), DeMarcus Ware (Dallas) or Lance Briggs (Chicago), backs out of the contest due to an injury.
In addition to Brooks (153 tackles, three forced fumbles and two passes defensed in 2007), Tampa Bay's defense, which ranks third overall in the NFL and is allowing just 15.5 points per game, had several Pro Bowl candidates that were denied the opportunity to play in Honolulu, Hawaii in February.
Tampa Bay middle linebacker leads the team in tackles with 161. He also has notched two interceptions, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and four passes defensed as a first-year starter. But Ruud was passed over for the Pro Bowl for Lofa Tatupu (Seattle) and rookie Patrick Willis (San Francisco).
Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber, a four-time Pro Bowler, has notched 87 tackles, one sack, two interceptions, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, a team-high 15 pass defensed and two touchdowns. Three cornerbacks – Al Harris (Green Bay), Marcus Trufant (Seattle) and Terrence Newman (Dallas) – were voted to the Pro Bowl over Barber.
Despite the fact that he has notched a team-leading eight sacks and seven forced fumbles along with 45 tackles and two fumble recoveries, Bucs first-year defensive end Greg White will not be going to Hawaii. Instead, Aaron Kampman (Green Bay), Patrick Kerney (Seattle) and Osi Umenyiora (New York Giants) will play defensive end for the NFC.
Bucs rookie free safety Tanard Jackson has turned in an impressive rookie campaign, notching 71 tackles, two interceptions and 12 passes defensed. He is also part of a Tampa Bay defense that ranks second in the NFL against the pass.
But that wasn't good enough to get Jackson in the Pro Bowl. Instead, Redskins safety Sean Taylor, who was killed at his home in a burglary in November, was voted to the NFC Pro Bowl team posthumously and Ken Hamlin (Dallas) was voted to the all-star game as a reserve.
Darren Sharper (Minnesota) was voted to the Pro Bowl over Bucs strong safety Jermaine Phillips, who has registered 114 tackles, one sack, two forced fumbles, seven passes defensed and a team-leading four interceptions this year.
On the offensive side of the ball, Brett Favre (Green Bay) was voted the starting quarterback for the NFC while quarterbacks Tony Romo (Dallas) and Matt Hasselbeck (Seattle) were named reserves, leaving Bucs QB Jeff Garcia, who has completed 197-of-307 (64.2 percent) passes for 2,244 yards and 12 touchdowns and just four interceptions, out of the Pro Bowl.
Tampa Bay's offense ranks 19th overall in the NFL, but its ground attack ranks 10th overall thanks to Earnest Graham, who has carried the ball 213 times for 877 yards (4.1 avg.) and 10 touchdowns while catching 47 passes for 313 yards in place of Cadillac Williams.
Rookie RB Adrian Peterson (Minnesota), RB Marion Barber (Dallas) and RB Brian Westbrook (Philadelphia) were named to the NFC Pro Bowl squad over Graham.
Bucs wide receiver Joey Galloway has caught 56 passes for 985 yards (17.6 avg.) and six touchdowns, but he will not be in the Pro Bowl. Instead, the NFC will be represented by wide receivers Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona), Terrell Owens (Dallas), Donald Driver (Green Bay) and Torry Holt (St. Louis).
Neither Bucs punter Josh Bidwell nor kicker Matt Bryant made the Pro Bowl. Bryant has made 23-of-28 (82.1 percent) of his field goals and Bidwell has averaged 43.4 yards per punt and has pinned 26-of-67 (38.3 percent) of his punts inside the 20-yard line.
Instead, the NFC will be represented by punter Andy Lee (San Francisco) and kicker Nicholas Folk (Dallas).
The 2008 Pro Bowl is scheduled to be played at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii on Feb. 10.
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