Michael Vick's sensational comeback has been spiced by a Pro Bowl start.
The Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, who sat out two seasons while serving a federal sentence for dogfighting, will start for the NFC in the Jan. 30 Pro Bowl in Honolulu. The honor is yet another major step in Vick's resurgence.
Vick was selected to three Pro Bowl games with Atlanta before being suspended by the NFL and served prison time for running a dogfighting ring. This season, he has gone from a seldom-used backup to the NFC's leading passer, the catalyst for Philadelphia's dynamic offense. The Eagles had five players selected.
Atlanta, which leads the NFC with a 12-3 record, had the most Pro Bowl players with seven, including quarterback Matt Ryan, receiver Roddy White and defensive end John Abraham.
New England (13-2), the AFC leader, had six Pro Bowl players, led by quarterback Tom Brady. The league's top passer will make his sixth trip to the game, providing the Patriots don't reach the Super Bowl. The game will be played the Sunday before the title game at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas.
Baltimore, Green Bay and Dallas also had five players voted in by players, coaches and fans.
Four rookies were chosen, with defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh of Detroit a starter for the NFC. Cornerback Devin McCourty of New England, kick returner Marc Mariani of Tennessee and center Maurkice Pouncey of Pittsburgh were selected to the AFC squad.
"It's a tremendous honor, obviously being a rookie and getting my feet wet in the NFL," Suh said. "I can't expect anything more … it's only going to make me want to work harder to get back there again."
There were seven first-time selections on the NFC team and 14 on the AFC team.
The only teams not represented were Buffalo, Cincinnati, Seattle and Tampa Bay.
Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning was selected to his 11th Pro Bowl as a backup to Brady. He joined Brett Favre as the only quarterbacks selected to at least 11 games.
McNabb backs up agent
Donovan McNabb sees "nothing wrong" with an inflammatory statement in which his agent attacked Washington Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.
McNabb said he wasn't aware that his agent was planning to release the statement before it came out last week.
"He put his thoughts into the whole deal, not Donovan's thoughts," McNabb said.
McNabb was making his most extensive comments since his tit-for-tat with the Shanahans escalated when agent Fletcher Smith released the statement Thursday.
"I support my agent," McNabb said, "and I support his thoughts. … When I read the whole thing, I didn't see nothing wrong with it."
Smith's statement cited tension between McNabb and Kyle Shanahan, the coach's son. It was released a week after Mike Shanahan announced he was benching McNabb in favor of Rex Grossman for the final three games of the season because the Redskins (6-9) had been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.
Mike Shanahan countered with a statement in response to Smith. Kyle Shanahan spoke the next day, disputing many of Smith's claims. Smith then released a statement standing by his original statement.
On his Tuesday radio show, McNabb said he has met with Kyle Shanahan and that "we're both on the same page," but reiterated his concern over leaks that paint him as unable to grasp the offense.
"When you hear things like that, you begin to question where it's coming from," McNabb said.
49ers interview Softli
Jed York, team president and chief executive of the San Francisco 49ers, interviewed Tony Softli as the first known candidate to fill the team's vacant general manager position, a person with knowledge of the situation told the Associated Press.
Softli, a former personnel executive with the Carolina Panthers and St. Louis Rams, met Tuesday with York. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the matter. York fired coach Mike Singletary late Sunday after a 25-17 loss at St. Louis eliminated the 49ers (5-10) from playoff contention, their eighth consecutive year out of the postseason.
York vowed to turn the 49ers back into a contender, starting by hiring a general manager. That person will choose Singletary's successor. San Francisco has been without a general manager since Scot McCloughan's abrupt departure in March that York called a "mutual parting." McCloughan wound up with the division rival Seattle Seahawks and Trent Baalke took over football operations for the 49ers.
Polamalu's status is unknown
The Pittsburgh Steelers probably won't know until Friday whether safety Troy Polamalu can play in Sunday's regular-season finale at Cleveland.
Polamalu hasn't played or practiced for two weeks because of an injured right Achilles' tendon. Coach Mike Tomlin said Polamalu won't practice Wednesday or Thursday.
"Troy is improving," Tomlin said. "We're going to look at him and watch him move. It's not out of the realm of possibility he could play. If he's healthy, he will."