Chargers have team-record nine Pro Bowlers

A team-record and NFL-leading nine players from the San Diego Chargers were voted by NFL players, coaches and fans to participate in this season's Pro Bowl in Hawaii. The previous high was eight players voted to the game following the 1980 season.

The Pro Bowl, pitting the best players of the AFC against the best of the NFC, will be played on Saturday, Feb. 10 in Honolulu.

Heading the list is NFL MVP candidate LaDainian Tomlinson who caps his record- breaking season with the fourth Pro Bowl selection in his first six seasons. Tomlinson received 1,111,684 votes from the fans to rank second overall for the NFL All-Stars. He played in the game following the 2002, '04 and ‘05 seasons.

From the offense, first-year starting quarterback Philip Rivers, fullback Lorenzo Neal and center Nick Hardwick were voted to the squad along with tight end Antonio Gates. Defensive tackle Jamal Williams and linebacker Shawne Merriman will represent the defense, and they'll be joined by kicker Nate Kaeding and special teams standout Kassim Osgood.

Neal and Gates will be playing in their third Pro Bowls while Williams and Merriman will be making their second trip to the Aloha State. Rivers, Hardwick, Kaeding and Osgood earned the recognition for the first time.

Five Chargers also received enough votes from players, coaches and fans to be named either a first or second alternate. Guard Kris Dielman, tackle Marcus McNeill and punter Mike Scifres are first alternates and defensive end Luis Castillo and linebacker Shaun Phillips are second alternates. Alternates participate in the game if players selected ahead of them are unable to play due to injury.

"I'm very proud of our team and players," said General Manager A.J. Smith. "We have a special group of players. These individuals are being recognized, but this is also a positive reflection on their teammates and the overall strength and depth of the entire roster."

Charger players were among the top vote-getters on the fan ballots. Gates, Kaeding, Merriman, Neal and Tomlinson received the most fan votes at their position in the AFC. Hardwick and Osgood finished second in the fan voting. Rivers (third), punter Mike Scifres (third), guards Mike Goff (third) and Kris Dielman (fifth), linebacker Shaun Phillips (fifth), strong safety Terrence Kiel (fifth), and tackles Marcus McNeill (fourth) and Shane Olivea (fifth) all finished in the top five at their position on the AFC fan ballots.

An interesting side note: Rivers, Merriman and Kaeding were all acquired in the same trade that sent the first choice in the 2004 NFL Draft, quarterback Eli Manning, to the New York Giants, in exchange for Rivers, chosen by the Giants with the fourth-overall selection that year; the Giants' third-round choice in '04 (Kaeding), the Giants' first-round choice in '05 (Merriman) and the Giants' fifth-round choice in '05 (tackle Roman Oben).


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