Testaverde bowled over by honor Ravens QB to Pro Bowl

Alexander an alternate

December 13, 1996|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

When Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda made the announcement after practice, Vinny Testaverde drew an ovation from his teammates. Several coaches came over to shake his hand or exchange hugs.

After five head coaches, nine quarterback coaches, three teams and tons of public criticism, Testaverde reached the pinnacle of his 10-year career yesterday by being selected to the AFC Pro Bowl squad.

The Denver Broncos' John Elway will be the AFC's starting quarterback, with Testaverde and the New England Patriots' Drew Bledsoe as reserves. Ravens receiver Derrick Alexander was named to the team as an alternate and will play if one of the top four receivers -- Cincinnati's Carl Pickens, San Diego's Tony Martin, Oakland's Tim Brown and Jacksonville's Keenan McCardell -- cannot attend the game on Feb. 2 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.

"It feels good, I'm excited, more excited than I thought I was going to be," said Testaverde, 33. "To receive this honor after going through what I've been through, six years in Tampa, well it's just a great feeling.

"I would like to thank Ted Marchibroda for having confidence in me, and letting me know that the past does not equal the future," he said. "And I would like to thank my wife [Mitzi], who has been with me every step of the way through a long season and many long seasons. She has endured a lot of things most people don't have to."

Testaverde is having a career season in Marchibroda's no-huddle, fast-paced offense. He is the AFC's No. 2-rated quarterback, having completed 282 of 480 passes for 3,630 yards and 29 touchdowns, tops in the conference.

Testaverde's selection also was an honor for Marchibroda, who has developed such quarterbacks as Roman Gabriel, Sonny Jurgensen, Bert Jones and Jim Kelly.

But Marchibroda gave all the credit to Testaverde yesterday.

"When you saw the ovation out there, I think the entire organization realized how much he worked for and deserved it," said Marchibroda. "I have nothing but praise for him and the work ethic he has shown."

Ravens owner Art Modell said: "There hasn't been any player kicked around and booted by the media and public more than Vinny Testaverde. This is a fitting tribute to an outstanding year. Credit goes to Ted Marchibroda and quarterback coach Don Strock, and the receivers and offensive line."

The Ravens had hopes of getting either Alexander or fellow receiver Michael Jackson on the Pro Bowl roster.

Alexander leads the conference in receiving yards with 1,093 on TTC 61 receptions. Jackson has 1,019 yards on 66 catches.

Jackson makes the tougher catches while Alexander makes better yardage after the reception. Maybe they split their votes because they're from the same team.

"I really wasn't expecting to make it," said Alexander.

"There were a lot of receivers who had more receptions and more yards. I'm just glad I had the opportunity to come in and play. I always felt I had the potential to do something, I just had to come out and prove it. As for Michael, it could have been either one of us, we have the same kind of numbers."

Jackson and Alexander are the best of friends, and they both looked over the Pro Bowl list in the locker room yesterday, Jackson enjoying both the honors by Alexander and Testaverde.

"Derrick being an alternate is like me being an alternate," said Jackson. "I'm just as happy for my friend as I would be for myself."

Pro Bowl receivers

Statistics for the four AFC Pro Bowl receivers, along with those for the Ravens' Derrick Alexander, who was selected as an alternate, and Michael Jackson, who was not chosen:

.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. No .. Yds .. TD

Pickens, Cin.. .. .. .. 92 .. 1077 .. 11

McCardell, Jac. . .. .. 78 .. 1059 ... 3

T.Brown, Oak. ... .. .. 78 ... 982 ... 9

T.Martin, S.D. .. .. .. 72 .. 1047 .. 14

Jackson, Ravens . .. .. 66 .. 1019 .. 10

Alexander, Ravens .. .. 61 .. 1093 ... 9

Pub Date: 12/13/96

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