New York– The Pittsburgh Steelers lead the NFL in one category this season: most Pro Bowl players.
Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell (Michigan State) and Ben Roethlisberger are among eight Steelers selected for the all-star game. They will be joined on Jan. 28 in Orlando, Florida, by tackle Alejandro Villanueva, guard David DeCastro, center Maurkice Pouncey, kicker Chris Boswell, and linebacker Ryan Shazier, who is injured. Brown, also injured but expected back for the playoffs, was voted a starter, as were Bell and the three offensive linemen.
The Philadelphia Eagles and New Orleans Saints each placed six players in the game in balloting announced Tuesday.
Four rookies were chosen in voting by NFL players, coaches and fans: running backs Alvin Kamara of the Saints and Kareem Hunt of the Chiefs, cornerback Marshon Lattimore of the Saints, and safety Budda Baker of the Cardinals as a special teamer.
Two long snappers will be selected by each coach; the losing AFC and NFC team with the best record will have its coaching staff work the Pro Bowl.
Twenty-four of the 86 Pro Bowl selections are newcomers. That includes two of the three Rams specialists chosen: kicker Greg Zuerlein and return specialist Pharoh Cooper. Rams punter Johnny Hekker is a repeat Pro Bowler.
Five teams have no representatives: the Jets, Browns, Colts, Bears and Packers.
Other AFC offensive starters: Patriots QB Tom Brady and FB James Develin; Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins; Chiefs TE Travis Kelce; Titans T Taylor Lewan; and Raiders G Kelechi Osemele. On defense, it will be Jaguars DE Calais Campbell and CBs Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye; Ravens S Eric Weddle and LB C.J. Mosley; Broncos LB Von Miller; Texans LB Jadeveon Clowney; Chargers DE Joey Bosa; Titans DT Jurell Casey; Bengals DT Geno Atkins; and Miami S Reshad Jones.
Starting on offense for the NFC: Eagles QB Carson Wentz, who is injured, TE Zach Ertz and G Brandon Brooks; Falcons WR Julio Jones and C Alex Mack; Vikings WR Adam Thielen; Rams RB Todd Gurley; Cowboys T Tyron Smith and G Zack Martin; Redskins T Trent Williams; and 49ers FB Kyle Juszczyk.
Defensive starters for the NFC: Vikings DE Everson Griffen and CB Xavier Rhodes; Cardinals LB Chandler Jones and CB Patrick Peterson; Cowboys DE Demarcus Lawrence; Eagles DT Fletcher Cox; Rams DT Aaron Donald; Redskins LB Ryan Kerrigan; Panthers LB Luke Kuechly; Seahawks S Earl Thomas; and Giants S Landon Collins.
Other AFC specialists are Titans punter Brett Kern, Chiefs returner Tyreek Hill, and Patriots special teamer Matthew Slater.
Panthers sale sparks buzz
The stunning news of the rare opportunity to purchase an NFL team has quickly garnered the attention of sports figures, business investors and politicians alike.
Amid reports of sexual and racial remarks made by Panthers owner and founder Jerry Richardson in the workplace, he has unexpectedly announced that he is selling the NFL franchise after this season ends.
It was a bombshell that rocked the Carolinas and generated shockwaves inside and out of the organization. The team Monday promoted Tina Becker as COO and gave her full control of the day-to-day operations.
Becker said in a release that “these have been some of the most difficult days of my 19 years with the Panthers.” She added that her immediate focus will be on the corporate side of the organization, “while addressing the real concerns that have been raised in recent days.”
Richardson, meanwhile, stepped away from daily responsibilities to focus on the sale of the team — which will come with a multi-billion dollar price tag.
That’s what is known, but Richardson’s decision to walk away after nearly 25 years as owner has left more questions than answers about the franchise’s future — most notably, who will buy it and will they keep the team in Charlotte.
Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles said she is committed to working to keep the team in Charlotte.
Brown to miss Texans’ game
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin says star receiver Antonio Brown (Central Michigan) will miss Pittsburgh’s Christmas Day visit to Houston because of a contusion on his left calf.
Brown, the NFL’s leading receiver, left in the second quarter against the Patriots after getting tangled up while trying to catch a pass in the end zone.
Tomlin declined to get into the specifics of Brown’s injury and didn’t put a timetable on a possible return.