Proudly wearing his AFC North championship cap, linebacker Ray Lewis insisted that he wasn't bitter about being snubbed for the Pro Bowl.
Speaking for the first time since he was named an alternate Tuesday, Lewis expressed regret that teammates Trevor Pryce and Bart Scott did not make the team before openly questioning the voting of players around the NFL.
"I never played this game for Pro Bowls," Lewis said yesterday. "Is it sad the way it goes down? Of course. I was around when the voting was right. I was around when you used to vote for guys for what they did and not by whatever comes up.
"Now, it's getting kind of crazy because the league is getting very young. These guys don't know how to vote no more. That's not the way the game should be."
Pro Bowl spots were awarded based on three sets of votes - by fans (online), by coaches and by players. Each was given equal weight.
Lewis ranks 26th in the NFL with 91 tackles, according to statistics kept by the NFL.
But he remains a major factor in the Ravens' run defense this season. In 12 games with Lewis, the Ravens have allowed an average of 70.3 yards rushing. In two games without him, they have given up an average of 134 yards.
The only previous times Lewis failed to make the Pro Bowl were 2002 and 2005, when he was on injured reserve.
"For me, I've never looked for people to tell me if I'm good or not. I know what I can do," Lewis said. "For myself, all I do is lead my troops. When I take my guys to the playoffs, I'm going to still be who I am. That's what I am here for.
"Anybody can make plays. In this business, you ask yourself: Who's a difference maker? I'm a difference maker."
When reporters repeatedly asked Scott about getting slighted for the Pro Bowl, Lewis shouted to his fellow linebacker to stop talking about it. Lewis later said he has counseled Scott about how to handle the situation.
"I told Bart, 'You can be hurt because you got robbed, but if that's on your mind, Miami can't be on your mind,'" Lewis said, referring to the Super Bowl site. "The bottom line: We're in the dance. Whatever frustration you got, let it come out on the field."