Washington Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington and cornerback Champ Bailey were named to the NFC Pro Bowl team yesterday, but defensive tackle Daryl Gardener was passed over.
Gardener and left tackle Chris Samuels were named alternates. The Redskins were upset about Gardener being snubbed, but the selections of Arrington and Bailey for the Feb. 3 game in Honolulu provided rare good news in a mostly disappointing season.
"It provides a little consolation prize for what you really set out to achieve," Arrington said. "I don't really know how to feel right now. I'm glad I made it . . . but it always sits in your head that we should have had a better season. . . . I was actually preparing myself for the worst. This season has been pretty bizarre."
It was the second straight Pro Bowl selection for Arrington, who leads the Redskins with a career-best 10 sacks. Arrington began the year with hopes of being the NFL's defensive player of the year but struggled early to adjust to defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis's system. Lewis had Arrington line up at defensive end on passing downs, and Arrington at times questioned whether he was being used properly.
But he adapted. He played through a painful wrist injury, and he remains one of the league's heaviest hitters and is only in his third season.
"I overcame a lot, so I'm proud of that personally," Arrington said. "This Pro Bowl is for the people who stuck by me."
Said Bailey: "You want to enjoy it, and I will once I go. Right now, everybody is saying congratulations. But as a team, there isn't much we can look forward to except going out and playing two games that don't mean anything as far as the playoffs."
It will be the third straight Pro Bowl trip for Bailey, who has three interceptions in his fourth year.
"It's still exciting," Bailey said. "Any time you can accomplish something like this, it's exciting."
The Redskins believe Gardener, a seven-year NFL veteran who never has reached the Pro Bowl, is also deserving but knew there was a chance he would be overlooked because so much of the voting -- by fans, players and coaches -- depends on reputation. Gardener signed with the Redskins last summer after being released by the Miami Dolphins. He brought a history of back problems and a reputation as a troublemaker. But he mostly has remained healthy, has been a solid citizen in the locker room and perhaps has been the Redskins' most dominant player.
"Daryl Gardener is having an exceptional year. I guess the voters didn't know as much about him as they should have," Redskins Coach Steve Spurrier said.
Said Gardener: "I don't know what I have to do to get to the Pro Bowl. But when you take my tape out and compare it to other linemen, I think it's evident I should be there. I guess I have to get more sacks. . . . Questions have to be raised . . . [but] am I upset? No."
Complete Pro Bowl rosters, Page D6
Green to Start Finale?
Spurrier said he thinks it would be fitting to promote cornerback Darrell Green to the starting lineup for the Dec. 29 season finale against the Dallas Cowboys at FedEx Field. That will be the final game of Green's 20-year career. "That'd be fine with me," Spurrier said. "I think he ought to run out there the first play of the game. Let's do that.'' . . . Center Larry Moore and fullback Bryan Johnson were hospitalized yesterday. They have been the most seriously ill among the many players being affected by a stomach virus. Defensive lineman Carl Powell also missed practice, but Spurrier said he expects all three to be available for Sunday's game against the Houston Texans at FedEx Field.