Three Chargers dubbed, others snubbed

The number one rushing defense in the league sends no players to the Pro Bowl. They didn't suddenly rise to the top spot. They have been consistent all year, but the snubs were out in full force on Wednesday and the San Diego Chargers felt the wrath. They did send three players on offense and while they were honored, the goal is unchanged - Super Bowl or bust.

"When you have the kind of representation we have it kind of makes it enjoyable," head coach Marty Schottenheimer said before focusing on those who did not make thes quad. "It is kind of bittersweet. My sense was Donnie Edwards was a very legitimate candidate."

While Edwards was left off the team, three offensive players made the squad. Drew Brees will get his first taste of Hawaii and LaDainian Tomlinson will get his second tour. Antonio Gates will also get a lei.

The beneficiary of Tomlinson and Brees making the squad in the same year is the offensive line. Tomlinson plans on taking as many that will fit in the plane on the trip to Hawaii. Brees, on the other hand, did not disclose his plans but heard requests for flat-screen plasmas.

And the beaten and battered – at least publicly in print – line has done a commendable job for the offense.

"The flak that those guys have caught and what they have been able to put together this year," Brees marveled.

Tomlinson fell victim to the snub last year in what was one of the best seasons by any running back. This year, a groin injury slowed him but he still got his due.

As teammates yelled, "You the man L.T." the star back felt honored to be regarded as one of the best in the game.

"It is an honor to be selected," he said. "Just to be recognized and represent your conference, the AFC."

Given the way he was dismissed a year ago, Tomlinson admitted he "was nervous". Strange to hear a man who makes his living going against 260-pound linebackers speak of nervousness.

"It feels great," left tackle Roman Oben said of three Chargers being selected. "If you send guys to the Pro Bowl it is a testament to the kind of team you have. LT – he is still one of the better backs in the league. To play with a groin injury…I am just happy for him."

Brees was a guy that no one thought would be there. Not many expected him to be the starter throughout the season, figuring Philip Rivers would be handed the reigns.

The former Boilermaker turned his career around and revived the Chargers from the depth of Hades. His first reward this year was the AFC West division and now he can add Pro Bowl to it.

"It was on my list of goals," Brees said of making it to Hawaii. "It is one thing to be expectation and then all of a sudden there it is. You look back to a year ago and a lot of people thought it would be the last place I would be.

"It is an honor, definitely something to be proud of."

Just a few short weeks ago, Tomlinson stood at the podium and professed his desire to see Brees stay with the team using the ‘if it ain't broke don't fix it' analogy. What a difference a year makes.

Tomlinson was just as eager to talk about his quarterback on Wednesday.

"I was excited for Drew," he said. "All of the things he has been through – he deserves it. The way he stuck in there and kept believing in himself and got the job done."

Gates, the soft-spoken tight end out of Kent State, also made the AFC team. Humble to the end, Gates is just happy to be playing in the NFL.

"If I continue to work hard and do the things that got me to this point, I think one day I can be pretty good," Gates said modestly. I don't want to over exaggerate what could happen. Things can change at the drop of a dime. One minute you could be the best tight end in the league and the next minute, you can be the biggest bust in the league. If I continue to work hard and do things that got me to this point, I can become a pretty good tight end."

Someone aught to tell him he already is a pretty good tight end and is well on his way towards becoming great.

As unfortunate as it is, there will always be snubs – people that deserve to go but don't for some reason or another. A year ago, the Chargers weren't lucky enough to send one person to the luau. This year they are sending three. Progress is achieved over time. Perhaps next year that number will jump to six…

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