METAIRIE – Five members of the Saints’ record-setting offense were selected on Tuesday to the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl game, which will be played Jan. 29 in Honolulu, Hawaii.
The list of Saints to be voted into the game by fans, coaches and players is headed up, of course, by quarterback Drew Brees and also includes a record-setting tight end and three of his offensive linemen.
Less than 24 hours after breaking Dan Marino’s 27-year-old NFL single-season record for passing yards, Brees was named to participate in the all-star game for a fifth time in six seasons with the Saints.
In addition to topping Marino’s old record of 5,084 yards with 5,087 yards in a 45-16 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Monday night, Brees also helped the Saints break the club record for total yards in a season with 6,857 yards.
The Saints can etch their name in the NFL record book again with 219 yards Sunday in the regular-season finale with the Carolina Panthers. That’s how many yards they need to better the old single-season record of 7,075 yards by the 2000 St. Louis Rams.
Brees will be joined on the NFC squad by second-year tight end Jimmy Graham, who ranks third in the NFL with 91 receptions and has 1,213 yards with 10 touchdowns — a club tight ends record.
Graham, a third-round draft pick in 2010, is the first Saints tight end chosen to the game since Hoby Brenner in 1987. Only one other tight end, Henry Childs in 1979, has represented the Saints in the all-star contest.
“Being selected to represent the NFC in the Pro Bowl is a tremendous honor,” Graham said in a statement on the team’s website. “If you look around the NFC, you see a ton of amazing and talented players at tight end. To be thought of in that company by my peers, the coaches and the fans who follow the NFL is something I take seriously.”
While Brees will be one of two reserves behind Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, Graham was voted in as a starter ahead of the Falcons’ Tony Gonzalez, a 15-year veteran who was chosen to his 12th Pro Bowl.
Joining Graham on the starting unit will be Saints guards Carl Nicks and Jahri Evans. Nicks will be going for the second straight season, while Evans makes his third appearance in a row.
Saints left tackle Jermon Bushrod was also selected to the game as a backup.
Five players with Louisiana ties were also voted to the Pro Bowl.
Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson, a former LSU star, was chosen as the NFC’s kick returner, while Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte (Tulane) and Bears cornerback Charles Tillman (UL-Lafayette) were selected as backups.
Destrehan native Ed Reed of the Baltimore Ravens was selected as the AFC’s starting free safety and New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, a New Orleans native, was named along with Brees as the backups to Rodgers.