It's routine for players to complain about not making the Pro Bowl.
It's much more unusual for a player to make the team and admit he didn't think he would.
That's what Miami defensive tackle Tim Bowens did last week after he was named to the team even though he has made just 37 tackles, tied for 11th on the team and nine fewer than the team's other tackle, Daryl Gardener.
"I don't think I'm having a good year," Bowens said. "I couldn't believe [the announcement]. I didn't think I had a shot. I just don't know what to say. I'm shocked."
Even coach Jimmy Johnson simply said, "Tim's been solid," when asked about the selection.
Johnson was much more annoyed that linebacker Zach Thomas and cornerback Sam Madison didn't make it.
"We're always happy any of our players are recognized. Obviously as good as the defense has been playing this year, we felt like we would have some recognition. The only thing that concerned me is we have a couple of players we feel have had absolutely outstanding years and yet they were not recognized. Sometimes, it makes me scratch my head," Johnson said.
The Pro Bowl voting is often a puzzle because neither the players nor the coaches spend that much time comparing players.
They're too often focused on the coming opponent to focus on the big picture, so the selections aren't always logical.
Bowens will certainly take it, though. He not only gets the free trip to Hawaii, but his five-year, $25 million deal included a provision that his base salary will jump from $2.5 million to $3 million next year if he makes the Pro Bowl.
Drew Rosenhaus, the agent for both Thomas and Bowens, put a good spin on Thomas' snub.
"He may actually get more publicity for being left off the list," he said.
The NFL has come out with a new updated video on the game it is promoting as the perfect stocking stuffer for Baltimore football fans. It'll be shown this week on ESPN and ESPN2.
The league also will have the 10 Hall of Famers from that game do the coin toss at the Super Bowl.
The league even put together a national conference call last week featuring John Unitas and Art Donovan of the Colts and Frank Gifford and Sam Huff of the Giants.
All four agreed that the Colts had the better team -- although Huff argued with Donovan that the Giants had the better defense -- and that they not only didn't play the greatest game, they both played better games that season.
"I always felt that it wasn't a real good football game until the last two minutes," Unitas said. "And then the overtime."
It was the first overtime game ever and helped turn a nation onto the excitement of pro football.
There was much talk about the famous spot at the end of regulation when Gino Marchetti broke his leg and Gifford insists a bad spot cost the Giants a first down that would have allowed them to run out the clock.
There would have then been no overtime and Gifford said, "We wouldn't be having this conversation."
Donovan then jumped in and said, "I remember Gifford on the ground, screaming, 'I made the first down! I made the first down!' I said, 'Aw, shut up and go back to the huddle. What are you hollering about? You didn't make it.' "
Worrying about Elway
When New York Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi saw Amani Toomer catch the winning touchdown pass against Denver with 48 seconds left last Sunday, he didn't start celebrating.
"I said to myself, 'He's done everything else. The only thing he hasn't done is go 60 yards in 48 seconds, so I guess that's what he's going to do now.' When you see him line up with his heels in his own end zone against the wind and get into the [other] end zone in four minutes, 45 seconds to take the Super Bowl away from you [as Elway did in 1986], you expect anything," he said.
The loss wasn't a good omen for the Broncos' Super Bowl dreams. No team has lost to the Giants and won the Super Bowl.
Change in plans
Since coach Mike Shanahan gives the Broncos Monday off when they win, Terrell Davis was going to stay in New York after the Giants game and tape a "Sesame Street" segment. But the loss changed that because he had to return to Denver with the team for the first Monday practice of the season.
The plans were changed and Davis then arranged to fly back after practice Monday to tape the segment.
He told Oscar the Grouch that his favorite letters are "T" and "D," although he acknowledged that three other letters are on his mind -- "M-V-P."
Randy Moss of the Vikings and Fred Taylor of the Jaguars, whose teams play tonight, are the only two rookies to score at least 15 touchdowns in the same season. Taylor probably deserves to share Rookie of the Year honors with Moss, but Moss will win the award because of all the hype he's received.
Garrison Hearst of the San Francisco 49ers is the only player in the league with four touchdowns of at least 70 yards -- runs of 70, 71 and 96 and an 81-yard catch.
Minnesota's Gary Anderson, who survived the slippery turf at Camden Yards last Sunday to kick six field goals, can become the first kicker to have a perfect season. He has made all 29 field-goal attempts and all 53 extra-point kicks.
"If I didn't know any better, I'd think that it was the young Joe Montana. I mean it. He looks like Joe and he throws like Joe. And he moves around. And he's just going to get better as time goes on."
-- New Orleans coach Mike Ditka on Arizona quarterback Jake Plummer.
Pub Date: 12/20/98