Bucs seem blase about Pro Bowl shutout

Grizzled vets like Derrick Brooks and Ronde Barber, along with young stars like Barrett Ruud, were left off the Pro Bowl roster on Tuesday. Do they care? They don't seem to. The playoffs, apparently, are their own reward.

TAMPA — It's been 12 years since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have failed to send a player to the Pro Bowl.

That streak is in serious jeopardy now.

The fallout in Tampa Bay's locker room after learning on Tuesday that the team did not have a single selection among the 42 players in the NFC was sort of like a pin dropping in a noisy room.

No one seemed to notice or care.

"We're not really focused on that," rookie Gaines Adams said. "We're just focused on the 49ers and finishing up this season strong."

Jeff Garcia looked at it like this — maybe this team just isn't the Pro Bowl type.

"It's unfortunate that some of the guys weren't recognized for their great play this year," Garcia said. "But that's just somewhat how it's been for this team throughout the season. (They've been) somewhat unrecognized in what we've been able to achieve."

The Buccaneers made no official announcement, but the St. Petersburg Times reported on its Web site that three players — fullback B.J. Askew, wide receiver Joey Galloway and Garcia — had been named alternates for the game.

The last time the Buccaneers went without a Pro Bowl berth was 1995, the year before Tony Dungy took over as head coach. In 1996 linebacker Hardy Nickerson was the only Buc to make the trip to Hawaii.

Since then the Bucs have sent 53 representatives, and no less than two per game.

Last year cornerback Ronde Barber, linebacker Derrick Brooks and tight end Dave Moore (as the long snapper) made the trip. Moore and Brooks were both injury replacements.

This could be the end of Brooks' 10-year reign as a Pro Bowl player. Brooks has made an appearance every year since 1997, and his 10 appearances is tied for second all-time among Pro Bowl linebackers.

Not a single Buc from the league's No. 3 defense — and No. 1 scoring defense — will be in Hawaii.

It wasn't just the Buccaneers that felt the pinch of the NFC roster. The NFC South will not have a single representative as the roster stands now.

And the Bucs are the only current playoff team without a representative. If the Jacksonville Jaguars clinch a playoff berth, they would be the second playoff team without a representative.

Why? Most players were at a loss, but they all pointed to the Bucs' playoff berth as a nice consolation prize.

"I'm not going to talk about the Pro Bowl anymore," Bucs head coach Jon Gruden said. "We're interested in the Super Bowl."

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Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for Bucsblitz.com and the Charlotte (Fla.) Sun-Herald. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and his coverage of the Buccaneers has won numerous state and national awards.

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