Vikings Pro Bowlers react

With eight players selected for Pro Bowl honors, the Vikings had a wide variety of reactions to the voting. From a first-timer to a multi-timer to a special-teams selection to a shunned but deserving candidate, players reacted to the announcements this week.

The Vikings have known since the start of training camp that they had a team that was pretty special. That was affirmed Tuesday when eight Vikings – Brett Favre, Adrian Peterson, Sidney Rice, Steve Hutchinson and Bryant McKinnie on offense, Jared Allen and Kevin Williams on defense and Heath Farwell on special teams – were all named the NFC Pro Bowl team. Their eight selections were the most of any team in the NFL and five of those – Peterson, Hutchinson, McKinnie, Allen and Williams – were named as starters.

Viking Update caught up with some of the eight players Wednesday to get their thoughts on being selected, as well as one who didn't. Each has his own story and memory of getting the call. One theme ran through all of them – while the individual honor is nice, the team goal of getting to the Super Bowl, which would preclude playing in the Pro Bowl this year, remains the primary objective.


When Sidney Rice got the call from head coach Brad Childress about 4 p.m. yesterday to let him know he had been voted into his first Pro Bowl, Rice was actually a little surprised. Despite posting some of the best receiving and yardage numbers of the year, Rice wasn't expecting to get selected.

"Actually, I didn't," Rice said. "It wasn't one of the things that I set as a goal at the beginning of the season. My main goal was to be part of this team and win a Super Bowl championship. That was about the only goal I had."

Rice said he was humbled by the honor, but was quick to share the wealth with the teammates that helped get him there and make him the first Vikings wide receiver since Randy Moss to be named to the Pro Bowl.

"It feels great," Rice said. "None of this would have been possible without the other guys on this team."

The best part for Rice is that he will be far from alone in Miami. With seven teammates scheduled to join him for the Pro Bowl, the selections serve to reinforce what the Vikings players have believed all along – they may well have the best cast of players in the NFL this season.

"It's huge," Rice said. "We've got eight players on this team that made it. For me, McKinnie and Farwell, it's our first time going. For the rest of them, it's been a couple of times or more. It just shows you how good this team is and can be."

What made Rice's selection different from his other teammates is that they all had the fan component in the voting. A total of 14 Vikings finished first at their position in the fan voting, while Rice finished a distant fourth. It took the voting of other players and coaches to put him over the top and get selected, which added to the honor.

"It means a lot," Rice said. "Just to have my peers and the coaches vote me in, it means a whole lot to me."


For players like Rice, Tuesday was the first time they have been asked to play in the NFL all-star game. However, for Jared Allen, this is his third straight trip to the Pro Bowl. It's getting a little old hat for Allen, but he can relate with what guys like Rice, McKinnie and Farwell are going through getting their first recognition as being among the best at their respective positions.

"The first time is always great, because most of the time you don't see it coming," Allen said. "Maybe in the back of your mind you think it might happen, but until you get the call saying you've made it, I don't think you automatically expect it. There are people that vote for players they know and admire, so sometimes it can be a popularity contest. I guess I'm one of the popular people."

But, like so many others, Allen was quick to point that, unlike previous years when the Pro Bowl was an anti-climax to the season, this year will have a different dynamic coming the Sunday between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl. For the first time, the Super Bowl opponents won't be represented at the Pro Bowl and Allen found irony in the fact that he hopes the NFL will need to name eight replacement players if the Vikings advance to the Super Bowl.

"The weird thing about it this year is that so many players don't want to play in it," Allen said. "The two teams that go the Super Bowl won't be sending their guys to the Pro Bowl this year, so, while it is an honor to go, the way it's set up, you don't want to be playing this year. You want to be playing a week later."

Allen said that, while singling out so many Vikings is a privilege, they aren't spending too much time in congratulatory back-slapping. There is work to be done to help assure that the Vikings won't be available to play in the Pro Bowl.

"It's always an extreme honor when your peers, your teammates and the coaches vote you in," Allen said. "It's a nice honor, but right now the task at hand is beating the Giants and making some noise in the playoffs."


A year ago, Heath Farwell was still in the early stages of rehabbing a knee injury that robbed him of his 2008 season. What made the process even more difficult was that the Vikings special teams were so abysmal last year. He said being honored as the top special teams player in the NFC is a distinction that he shares with the rest of special teams mates.

"It's great to be back after the struggle last year," Farwell said. "Jamarca Sanford and Kenny Onatolu played well and those guys could have been in this spot as well. As a group we played well, so I think being one of the better special teams groups helps (to get selected)."

Farwell, who was chosen as a special teams alternate in 2007, said that in a team game, to be identified as a special teams guru is something in which he takes an enormous amount of pride, adding that the peer recognition is important in validating his value to the team.

"It's more the honor (of being chosen)," he said. "It means a lot to be recognized by the fans, the coaches and the players. That's what means the most to me. As far as playing, I'd gladly forfeit that trip. I'll take the week after for sure."

When asked if he hopes to someday get recognition for his ability as a linebacker, Farwell said he is realistic. He has carved himself a solid niche in the league as a special teams ace and that his primary objective is focusing on his job at hand and doing the best he can to excel at it.

"On this team I know my role and I know my role is to be the leader of the special teams and to back up our linebackers," Farwell said. "If they need me to step in for a series or two or a game, I'm ready to go. But my role is to play special teams. I embrace that and I enjoy it."


Tuesday's announcement didn't come as welcome news to some other Vikings. Players like Percy Harvin and Ryan Longwell won the fan vote for their positions, but didn't get named to the Pro Bowl team. For Longwell, it has been a little frustrating. He has won the fan vote a couple of times and had several seasons worthy of being selected. Yet, for all he has done in his career, selection to the Pro Bowl has eluded him.

"Obviously, I'm disappointed," Longwell said. "For 13 years, obviously it has always been a goal, but, at the same time, I can't argue with them taking (Philadelphia's) David Akers. It's just one of those things. It's tough, because they only take one. I haven't been the guy yet, but it's not going to drop off my list of something I want to get done."

He said that, while he has had some terrific seasons over the years, many of the players and coaches that vote look at the scoring totals of kickers and often simply go with the guy who is leading the league, which in this case is Akers. As he continues to wait for his name to be called, unlike his teammates that got the affirmation with being selected to the Pro Bowl, Longwell said he will just keep on trying and, hopefully, the call to the Pro Bowl will finally arrive for him as well.

"A lot of times, it just comes down to points and he's No. 1 in points this year," Longwell said. "When guys look at the list, a lot of them just vote for the guy with the most points. Not to take anything away from him, he's had a great year. You try to make them all and I've done my best to do that this year. I'll just keep plugging away."

Viking Update Top Stories