Packers' Barnett shrugs off cold shoulder from Pro Bowl voters
In the locker room a little while later, Barnett was asked if the snub bothered him.
“It’s blasphemy!,” he shouted.
Barnett was kidding.
Well, mostly kidding.
Barnett, one of the most valuable members of a rebuilt Packers defense, clearly felt like he and several teammates should have joined the four Packers players who were announced as members of the NFC Pro Bowl roster on Tuesday. And he didn’t see anything wrong with using the slight as motivation for the rest of the season.
“I hate to say it, but I do feel there’s a lack of respect out there for the players on this team,” Barnett said. “And that’s good for us, though, because I think we’re a team that has a chip on its shoulder all the time, and will continue to keep that going.”
Combined voting by fans, players and coaches resulted in four Packers being selected to the Pro Bowl: Favre, cornerback Al Harris, wide receiver Donald Driver and defensive end Aaron Kampman. Dallas, meanwhile, had 11 players voted in, while seven Minnesota players made it despite the Vikings’ 8-6 record.
“We’re 12-2 and a pretty popular team, and have been regardless of record,” Favre said. “To only get four guys is a little bit surprising.”
Barnett, cornerback Charles Woodson and offensive linemen Chad Clifton were picked as first alternates for the Pro Bowl, and each has a strong argument to be on the roster.
“We’ve got a lot of players who I think should go and deserved to go, especially on a 12-2 team,” Barnett said. “But like I said, that’s not the most important thing. We’ll just continue to keep playing and that stuff will all happen.”
Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings also was selected an alternate, and Driver said he would consider turning down the spot if it meant Jennings could go.
“I guess people are overlooking us,” Driver said. “If you look around, I think a lot of guys are upset that they didn’t go. A lot of guys are mad. But you move on and you continue moving on. But if you look around this locker room, there should have been at least nine or 10 guys who should’ve went.”
Other Packers alternates included safety Nick Collins, tight end Bubba Franks, running back Ryan Grant, linebacker A.J. Hawk, tight end Donald Lee and center Scott Wells.
Some coaches might consider an unexpected chance to use the “no respect” angle as motivation for players on a 12-2 team a gift, but Packers coach Mike McCarthy apparently isn’t one of them.
“It’s definitely an angle you can take,” McCarthy said. “It’s one that I won’t spend a lot of time with personally.”
McCarthy said he was thankful for the four players who made it, and appreciated the others who were selected as alternates.
“Would we like to have more? No doubt about it,” McCarthy said. “I can’t control the process. This unfortunately goes on around the league. Probably a lot of teams are disappointed that they didn’t have more guys. To sit here and take it out on the Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings, to me, that’s false motivation. We’re worried about the things that we can control, that’s preparing to beat Chicago.”
But Favre said Barnett should use the snub as motivation, at least to a point.
“I said, ’You deserve it. Let it be a motivational tool to you, but don’t let it take away from your play,”’ Favre said. “And I think a guy like Nick will have his share of Pro Bowls.”
Favre told Barnett that the longer he plays, the more he’ll appreciate the things that really matter – like being with his teammates, and having the chance at team success.
Barnett said the Pro Bowl was important, but not the most important thing.
“The only bowl game that really counts is the Super Bowl, and that’s still an option, that’s still a goal right now,” Barnett said. “I guess that’s how we’ll get past that situation.”
And if the Packers make the Super Bowl, Barnett says people won’t be able to overlook them any more.
“They leave us out nationally, media-wise, hopefully they’ll leave us out all the way ’til we get to the big game,” Barnett said. “Then they have no choice but to talk about us.”