Center heading to Hawaii

Mike Flanagan will join three other teammates representing the Green Bay Packers in the upcoming Pro Bowl. Flanagan is the first center to be named to the NFC squad since Frank Winters replaced the Dallas Cowboys' injured Ray Donaldson in the 1996 all-star game.<p>

Flanagan, an eighth-year pro and first alternate at that position for the NFC, is replacing center Olin Kreutz of the Chicago Bears, who withdrew because of a residual ankle sprain and bruised knee.

"Obviously, I wasn't expecting it. I didn't make it the first time so it's a surprise, definitely. I'm sorry that it took Olin Kreutz being hurt for me to go. But you have to make the most of your opportunities, and this is the way I got in."

Flanagan, who started all 16 games last season, will be making his first Pro Bowl appearance. He joins three teammates on the NFC roster – running back Ahman Green, guard Marco Rivera and tight end Bubba Franks. Quarterback Brett Favre also was elected to the NFC squad but officially withdrew Wednesday because of the thumb fracture he suffered at St. Louis Oct. 19. He is being replaced by Seattle's Matt Hasselbeck.

The Packers now have two offensive linemen going to the Pro Bowl for the first time since 1967, when tackle Forrest Gregg and guard Jerry Kramer were starters.

"Well that's a tribute to Beck (offensive line coach Larry Beightol)," Flanagan said. "He's a crazy guy but give him the credit he deserves. He's a hell of a football coach. Marco got there last year, is going again this year and this year I squeaked in. There's no question that we owe him a lot."

The AFC-NFC Pro Bowl will be played in Honolulu, Hawaii, Sunday, Feb. 8.

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