Football is a team game, more than any other, but it is still played by individuals, and this week’s announcement of the 2009 NFL Pro Bowl team had plenty of good news for the Denver Broncos and their fans.
Most seasons, teams have situations in which a player who was deemed worthy by the locals and their fans is omitted from a selection, and that pretty much did not happen this year for the Bronco players most deserving, at least by a statistical measure.
Champ Bailey has been named to his ninth Pro Bowl in 11 seasons, which ties Hall of Famer Mike Haynes for the most in NFL history at the cornerback position. Bailey has been named to the Pro Bowl five times as a Bronco and seems like a lock for the Team of the Decade for the 2000’s, a likely preamble to a Hall of Fame selection for Champ.
Tackle Ryan Clady was named to his first Pro Bowl team and is just the 11th tackle in NFL history to earn a Pro Bowl selection in his first two pro seasons. That takes in a tremendous number of players over the years and is a comment as to the talent and potential which Clady has.
Clady also is the first Bronco to earn a Pro Bowl nod in his second year since RB Clinton Portis in 2003. The only Bronco tackles ever named to the Pro Bowl are Hall of Famer Gary Zimmerman, Tony Jones, and Clady.
Brian Dawkins is new to the Broncos in 2009, but not new to Pro Bowl honors. This is the eighth selection for Dawkins, which ties for the third most in history at the safety position. He is the sixth safety in the safety-rich history of the Broncos to earn Pro Bowl accolades and like Bailey, often is mentioned as a potential Hall of Famer.
The NFL sack leader is Elvis Dumervil, and he already has set the new Bronco team record with 17 this year. Considering he set the all time high school sack record and led the nation in sacks while at the University of Louisville, Dumervil is now at the peak of NFL players in that department and has been rewarded with his first Pro Bowl selection.
It is not difficult to apply superlatives to the play of Brandon Marshall. This year, Marshall has been selected to his second straight Pro Bowl game after becoming just the fifth player in NFL history to post three consecutive 100-catch seasons.
He goes into the regular season finale against the Chiefs with 101 receptions, 1,120 yards and 10 touchdowns, ranking second in the league in total catches this year.
Marshall set the NFL single-game record with 21 catches at Indianapolis on December 13 and his 43 receptions in the month of December (four games) tied for the most through a team’s four-game period in the league since 1960.
Records are abound when it comes to Marshall, and he joins Rod Smith as the only Broncos to be named to the Pro Bowl multiple times at the wide receiver position. Smith made it in 2000, 2001 and 2005.
Nothing truly takes the place of team success — which is the only reason a team game is played.