Six Bucs are Heading to Honolulu for the Pro Bowl

January 2 – The 2001 Pro Bowl players were announced on Wednesday, and six Buccaneers will be making the trip to Honolulu, Hawaii on Feb. 9 to play in the National Football League's all-star game. Bucs FB Mike Alstott, WR Keyshawn Johnson, CB Ronde Barber, DT Warren Sapp, LB Derrick Brooks and SS John Lynch are the Pewter Pirates who were voted to the Pro Bowl.

The NFL announced the players who were voted to the Pro Bowl on Feb. 9, 2002 on Wednesday, and according to players, coaches and fans, FB Mike Alstott, WR Keyshawn Johnson, CB Ronde Barber, DT Warren Sapp, LB Derrick Brooks and SS John Lynch are among the league's elite.

Since Tony Dungy was hired as Tampa Bay's head coach in 1996, the Bucs have had 35 Pro Bowl selections, and now six can be added to that total. Five of the six players selected to the Pro Bowl were drafted under general manager Rich McKay and Dungy. The only player not drafted by Dungy and McKay was Johnson, who Tampa Bay traded two No. 1 draft picks to the New York Jets for in April of 2000. Needless to say, Dungy was pleased to hear six of his players were voted to the Pro Bowl on Wednesday.

Tampa Bay is sending the most players to the Pro Bowl for the second consecutive season. Both the Bucs and Ravens are sending six players each.

"I think it's a statement about what people think about your players," said Dungy. "I think it's great. I think we have individuals that get honored and that means they're performing well, but that their units are performing well, too. We're happy about that and happy for the individuals. There's always guys who play well and don't make it. A Pro Bowl squad can never take all of the good players, but it's quite a honor and we're happy for our six guys."

FB Mike Alstott: The A-Train scored 11 touchdowns in 15 games this season, including 10 rushing TDs. Alstott also rushed for 669 yards and averaged 4.1 yards per carry. Alstott put together two 100-yard rushing days in 2001 (Minnesota, New Orleans).

"I'm really excited," said Alstott. "This is a great honor to go to Hawaii with the leaders of the NFL.

"The things that I've been able to do this year, that's what I'm excited about. I'm glad that we have the opportunity to go further into the playoffs. I'm very excited about the Pro Bowl, but I'd like to have two vacations of some sort, the Super Bowl and the Pro Bowl. As far as my production this year, as far as getting the award, I'm very happy in the situation that I was put in and the opportunity to go back to the Pro Bowl."

CB Ronde Barber: Barber set a franchise record with his 10 interceptions this season. Barber broke Cedric Brown's record of nine interceptions in a season (1981). Barber is fourth on the team in tackles with 91 and has also recorded one sack, forced one fumble, recovered one fumble, defended 29 passes, blocked one punt and scored one touchdown.

"It's what it's all about really," said Barber. "I don't think you ever go into a season saying you want to make the Pro Bowl. I go in wanting to play the best I can week in and week out and be somebody that can be counted on. I think I've done that this year and for whatever reason, fans, coaches and players thought so, too.

Barber was a free agent in the offseason, and Tampa Bay allowed Barber to test the free agent waters. But while the Bucs rewarded Barber by giving him a six-year contract worth $18 million, Barber has certainly earned every penny.

"I had the numbers that counted this year," said Barber. "I've been playing well for probably the last three or four years, and when you get interceptions at my position, people take notice. I don't think I'll come out of this year saying I've played any better than any other year. But statistically wise, it has been."

LB Derrick Brooks: Brooks battled a nagging foot injury for most of the 2001 season, but was still able to lead the team in tackles with 165 and get voted to his fifth straight Pro Bowl. Brooks also recorded three interceptions, forced one fumble and defended 11 passes.

"It's always an honor, every year," said Brooks. "To me, it's more of a personal testament – colleagues and coaches (recognize) playing through when you were hurt, still making plays though not as many. People were able to see that. Just getting healthy these past three or four weeks – I just thank God I was voted in. It's very satisfying, of course, to see my teammates in – Ronde, Warren. (Sapp's) numbers are down but he's probably having one of his better seasons.

WR Keyshawn Johnson: Although Johnson has been to the Pro Bowl twice before, this will be his first trip as a Buccaneer. Johnson caught a franchise-record 106 receptions for 1,266 yards and one touchdown. Johnson is tied for most receptions in the league with Denver WR Rod Smith.

"It's good," said Johnson. "It means that you've done something to help your team, especially the fact that you're in the playoffs. You don't want to be that guy going to the Pro Bowl with a month and a half off."

SS John Lynch: Lynch will make his third consecutive trip to Honolulu and fourth in five years. Lynch is third on Tampa Bay's defense with 105 tackles and has recorded one sack, two interceptions, forced one fumble, recovered one fumble and defended seven passes.

"That's one honor that never gets old," said Lynch. "You never get tired of going over there. It's a tremendous honor, most of all, to be recognized by your peers in the league and the fans as one of the elite players at your position."

DT Warren Sapp: Sapp will make his fifth consecutive trip to the Pro Bowl. Sapp recorded six sacks, 57 tackles, forced two fumbles and recovered two fumbles.

"Whenever you're considered one of the better players in the game by the people that play the game, that's how you want it," said Sapp.

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