Players Honored, But Feel For Deserving Teammates

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The Green Bay Packers have sort of flown under the national radar much of 2007, and Tuesday's Pro Bowl selections confirmed that for the players who were selected.

While receiver Donald Driver, cornerback Al Harris and defensive end Aaron Kampman, who spoke to reporters in the locker room Tuesday afternoon (quarterback Brett Favre will hold his weekly press conference on Wednesday), are certainly honored by their inclusion, they're also a little mystified as to how a 12-2 team tied for the best record in the NFC ends up with the fourth-most representatives on the conference squad, behind Dallas (11), NFC North rival Minnesota (7), and Seattle (6).

"I guess people are overlooking us," said Driver, who is now a three-time Pro Bowler. "If you look around this locker room, there should have been nine or 10 guys that went."

To the guys who were selected, the most obvious exclusions were the three players named first alternates - linebacker Nick Barnett, cornerback Charles Woodson and left tackle Chad Clifton - along with receiver Greg Jennings, who is also an alternate. The voting is split three ways, with fans, players and coaches counting one-third apiece.

Driver, who just eclipsed 1,000 yards in a season for the fifth time last week, even went so far to say if Jennings had been a first alternate, Driver would have considered giving up his spot so Jennings could go. Jennings, a second-year pro, leads the team with 12 touchdowns.

But Driver also knows how Jennings feels, having posted back-to-back 1,200-yard seasons in 2004 and 2005 without making it, and not being named an alternate either year.

Harris has been there before, too. Having felt for the last few years he was deserving of a Pro Bowl spot, Harris said he was "tickled to death" that he finally made the NFC team for the first time -- at first he thought cornerbacks coach Lionel Washington was pulling his leg when he called Tuesday afternoon with the news -- but he felt bad for defensive teammates Barnett and his "crime partner" Woodson, who he feels are just as deserving.

Barnett is the vocal and statistical leader of the defense and has posted more than 150 tackles this season, while Woodson has 12 interceptions in his two seasons in Green Bay but hasn't been selected either year.

"If you go back a couple years and go through the whole season playing man coverage and give up one touchdown and you don't go, ... I know the feeling, to feel that you've been snubbed or played at a level you should be over there," said Harris, who along with Kampman and Favre has been named a starter.

"I could care less about how many people Dallas has, but if there's anything that would cast a shadow on today it would be 'Wood' and Nick Barnett not making it."

Kampman, who made the Pro Bowl for a second straight year and is approaching last year's career-high 15 1/2 sacks with 12 this season, expressed how many of his teammates feel about Barnett as well.

{sportsad300}"I don't know if there's a linebacker that's playing better football than he is," Kampman said. "He's really been consistent week in and week out, and that's what it's about. Really, what matters is the fact that he has the respect of the men in this locker room, and we all feel like he's a Pro Bowler."

As for the Cowboys, who are tied with the Packers for the NFC's best record at 12-2, getting nearly three times as many selections as Green Bay, Kampman said that's not something the Packers should be worried about.

"I think in the end, these are individual honors, and what really matters is what happens as a team," he said. "I think that will continue to be our focus. Who knows, we may get a chance to see those guys again, and that could be a good thing."

Would that give the Packers a score to settle? Driver emphasized that while the Pro Bowl voting is top-of-mind now, it takes a motivational back seat very quickly.

"I don't think we hold a chip (on our shoulder) for that issue," Driver said. "We want to win the world championship, plain and simple."

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