Thursday, 26 January 2012 11:47
Jimmy Graham, Brees Lead New Orleans Saints In Pro Bowl
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graham-panthersHawaii's vaunted Pro Bowl. Who doesn't love it? OK, don't answer that.

The Saints have five players in this all-star exhibition game which is Saturday at 7 p.m. and NBC is broadcasting the game.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees, tight end Jimmy Graham, tackle Jermon Bushrod and guards Jahri Evans and Carl Nicks were selected to play in the game. Brees is making his sixth Pro Bowl appearance in the Pro Bowl. Evans has earned his third consecutive All-Star berth and Nicks returns to Hawaii after making his debut last season.

Some of the players bring their families with them for a week of fun relaxation. Brees had his son, who is starting to walk, in the pool. The Breeses are expecting a third child.

The score of last season's game was 55-41 and the players aren't trying to knock off anyone's head. There's no blitzing allowed so this wouldn't be a game for Gregg  Williams.

The quarterbacks have enough time to look for Obama's birth certificate.

How much does $22,500  mean to the players? Players on the winning team receive a $45,000 check and the losers get $22,500. That's pretty much a reason to play hard -- at least a reason to play somewhat hard.

Graham was excited about selected to play in this game and issued a statement:

"Being selected to represent the NFC team in the Pro Bowl. It's a tremendous honor. If you look around the NFC, you see a ton of amazing and talented players at tight end and to be thought of in that company by my peers, the head coaches and the fans who follow the NFL is something I take seriously.

"It goes without saying that there are many people to thank starting with my position coach, Terry Malone, our offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael and Coach Payton. None of this would be possible without working with guys like Drew Brees. our running backs and receivers and in the tight ends room. Jeremy Shockley and David Thomas have been great mentors to me, and I have learned a lot from each guy who has worked with me over the past two seasons. Any guy who gets named to the Pro Bowl realizes that it's a heck of a compliment and I'm grateful and humbled by it."

Cornerback Davey Whitsell was the first Saint to play in  the Pro Bowl and he left his Saints helmet in Metairie. He played wearing a Southern  Cal helmet. Whitsell had 10 interceptions that season (1967) and when asked how he managed that many interceptions, he would answer, "They always threw in my territory."

I was media relations director for the 1970 Pro Bowl when it was still in Los Angeles.

While no sports all-star exhibition game measures up to a real game, the NFL's is clearly the most irrelevant.

SOME hither, others yon: The latest report about Peyton Manning comes from Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. He has a team source that says the Dolphins would prioritize going after Manning ahead of Packers backup Matt Flynn of LSU. The Dolphins will pursue Flynn anyway...Wednesday, remaining mourners had one final chance to say goodbye to long-time coach Penn State  coach Joe Paterno. Thursday afternoon, a private funeral allowed Paterno's family and close friends to do the same. "Today's Mass was a celebration. We laid to rest a great man," said former Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley. "He meant so much to so many people." I think the way the university handled Paterno's firing was shabby...

SUPER Bowl costs up: Super Bowl ticket prices have risen9.7 per cent since Sunday. The current average price is $4,001, up nearly 10 per cent from last year and 72 per cent over 2010's game in Miami. On the high end, TiqIQ has a $15,786ticket and a suite for more than $587,000. Ticket purchases are coming from expected areas: Since Monday, 29 per cent of all StubHub buyers have been from the New York region, with 19 per cent  from  the New England area. Hotels in Indy are sold out. Fifteen miles from downtown, the average rate is $500 a night, up from $85 a night the rest of the year...

The Saints will receive Miami's six-round draft choice in exchange for the Saints' choice (27th) as part of the Reggie Bush  trade and moves the Saints up eight or nine picks in that round...Four highest-paid sportscasters are Bob Costas and Al Michaels of NBC, Joe Buck of Fox, Jim Nantz of CBS. They are in the $5 million range...Former LSU safety Brandon Taylor has been impressive in Senior Bowl workouts. In one practice, he filled an alley and flattened a running back, which is way LSU defensive backs tackle.

Former LSU outfielde Jared Mitchell is with the Class A Winston Salem Dash and hit .222 last season. The White Sox have $1.2 million invested in him as the No. 1 draft choice in 2009. He's going bust rather than boom...Trivia time: Why does Drew Brees wear jersey number 9?...Nike is taking over the NFL apparel contract from Rebok and the league's jerseys will be changed dramatically, just as it did with the college jerseys...Chad Gaudin, former Crescent City Baptist pitcher,  is now with the Florida Marlins...LSU's baseball team is ranked No. 8 in College Baseball's preseason poll.Florida is No. 1...

by Ed Staton

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Ed Staton

Ed Staton is a former sports writer for the Times Picayune and New Orleans States Item.  He also served as the New Orleans Saints Information Director.  He has won 43 media awards in writing, design and photography.  


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