Skins' Pro Bowl question: Where's Wilber?

December 19, 1991|By Don Pierson | Don Pierson,Chicago Tribune

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Redskins, who lead the NFL in wins, shared the lead in Pro Bowl selections yesterday and felt they led the league in at least one Pro Bowl snub -- linebacker Wilber Marshall.

"I think he's probably going to have to play a little quarterback, run back punts and be the top seller of [soft drinks] at halftime to make it," said Redskins defensive coordinator Richie Petitbon. "I don't see how anybody can play the position better than Wilber did this year."

The Redskins will send eight players to the Pro Bowl between the NFC and AFC Feb. 2 in Honolulu. The Buffalo Bills, Houston Oilers and Denver Broncos also sent eight apiece in the AFC.

The Chicago Bears will be represented by four players -- starters Jay Hilgenberg at center and Mark Carrier at safety and backups Neal Anderson at running back and Mike Singletary at inside linebacker.

Reflecting the demise of the world champion New York Giants, TC linebacker Lawrence Taylor failed to make the team for the first time after 10 straight selections.

The San Francisco 49ers have only three representatives, but former San Francisco safety Ronnie Lott made his 10th game after leading the league in interceptions for the Los Angeles Raiders as a Plan B free agent.

The players and coaches who vote finally quit making so many underachieving Minnesota Vikings famous by restricting their selections to two -- guard Randall McDaniel and tight end Steve Jordan.

The Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers failed to get a player named, which embattled coaches Lindy Infante and Richard Williamson could point out to their bosses.

The Redskins and Bills, favored to meet in the Super Bowl Jan. 26, demonstrated the balance of their teams by having players selected on offense, defense and special teams. The Raiders and Lions also had players from all three units make it.

Washington quarterback Mark Rypien and Buffalo quarterback Jim Kelly got the most votes at their position and will start. They are the No. 1 and No. 3-rated passers, respectively, in the league. They also are two quarterbacks who have actually agreed to show up for recent Pro Bowls, something not every quarterback is willing to do.

As usual, the players left out became the center of attention yesterday.

"I guess I feel sorrier for the guys who didn't make it," Washington coach Joe Gibbs said.

The Bills, No. 1 in the league in offense, No. 1 in rushing and No. 2 in passing, will send Kelly, receivers Andre Reed and James Lofton, running back Thurman Thomas, and guard Jim Ritcher. Yet Kelly said: "When your offense is doing so well both running and passing and only one offensive lineman goes to the Pro Bowl, it makes you wonder who's voting."

The Philadelphia Eagles, No. 1 on defense, will send three of their front four plus linebacker Seth Joyner. The New Orleans Saints, No. 2, will start three of their four linebackers.

Marshall and the Redskins questioned the inclusion of the 49ers' Charles Haley at linebacker. Petitbon called him "really a defensive end."

"I guess I have to have a 14- or 15-sack year to even get considered," Marshall said. "They decided they wanted to pick Haley and those guys. That's OK. I'm more of an all-around player."

Marshall has 133 tackles and 4.5 sacks and is tied for second in the NFC with five interceptions. The Saints' Pat Swilling leads the league with 16 sacks. Haley has only five sacks and is injured, testimony to the reputation factor.

"It's unfortunate. It looks to me like the outside linebacker position has become just a sack race," Petitbon said.

Marshall also called it a "popularity contest" and admitted other players might dislike his demonstrative style of play.

"It's the way of the world. People don't like some people," said teammate Charles Mann, who made it at defensive end. "When you're on the football field, a lot of things are said and people are trying to win ballgames. [Wilber's] gotten into a couple of skirmishes on the field, but you're supposed to walk off and everything's OK."

Washington receiver Gary Clark got the vote ahead of fellow Redskins wide receivers Art Monk and Ricky Sanders and invited both to Hawaii as his guests.

"I'm not paying for their food, though," Clark said.

Marshall made the Pro Bowl in 1987 and 1988 with the Bears before the Redskins signed him as a $6 million free agent in 1989. Since then, he has blended into the Redskins' scheme.

"Coaches tell me I'm doing the job they want me to do and the owners tell me I'm doing the job they want me to do," Marshall said. "My stats speak for themselves. That's respect enough."

Asked if he intends to go to Hawaii on his own, he said: "I can afford to do that."

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