Green Bay Packers center Mike Flanagan has been named to the National Football Conference squad for the Pro Bowl, replacing injured center Olin Kreutz of the Chicago Bears, the National Football League announced Wednesday.
Kreutz withdrew because of a residual ankle sprain and bruised knee.
Flanagan, elected as a first alternate at the position in last month's Pro Bowl voting, will be making his first Pro Bowl appearance. He is the first Green Bay center to be named to the NFC squad since Frank Winters replaced the Dallas Cowboys' injured Ray Donaldson in the 1996 all-star game.
Flanagan, who started all 16 games in the '03 season, 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 today because of the thumb fracture he suffered at St. Louis Oct. 19, which continued to trouble him for the balance of the season. He is being replaced by Seattle's Matt Hasselbeck.
Flanagan, in learning of his elevation, said, "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."
Informed that the Packers will 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, Flanagan said, "Well that's a tribute to 'Beck' (offensive line coach Larry Beightol). 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."
As for what the opportunity means to him, the eighth-year professional confided, "It's the same one way or the other. Going to the Pro Bowl isn't going to validate my season. This is a nice bonus, but what would have validated the season was going to Houston as a team and playing in the Super Bowl. That's what I was striving for and we didn't get it done. But it's going to be fun to go, if for no other reason than it's something different. One of the reasons I have a great time as a union rep is because you get to know a variety of guys from around the league."
The AFC-NFC Pro Bowl will be played in Honolulu, Hawaii, Sunday, Feb. 8.
Keeping a tradition that started with Rivera last season, Flanagan will describe his first Pro Bowl experience in an online diary at Packers.com.