ORCHARD PARK, NY – The NFL announced today that Bills FS Jairus Byrd, DT Kyle Williams and DE Mario Williams have been selected to the 2014 Pro Bowl.
The selections mark the first time since 2004 that three Bills defenders (Sam Adams, Nate Clements, Takeo Spikes) have been selected to the Pro Bowl.
Jairus Byrd will be making his second consecutive Pro Bowl appearance and appearing for the third time overall (2009, 2012). The fifth year safety has tallied a team-high four interceptions this year, ranking him tied for third in AFC, including two interceptions in Week 11 vs. the Jets to become just the third player in franchise history with five multi-interception performances.
The 5-10, 203-pound Oregon product entered the NFL as the first of the Bills’ two second-round draft picks (42nd overall) in 2009 and has been a ball hawk in the Buffalo secondary, ranking second in the NFL with 22 interceptions since joining the Bills.
Kyle Williams, one of Buffalo’s three captains in 2013, has recorded a career high 10.5 sacks in 2013 to go along with 65 tackles (42 solo) and a career-high 21 quarterback hits. A consistent source of pressure for the Bills, Williams has tallied multiple sacks in four games this year.
A 6-1, 303-pound Louisiana State product, Williams entered the NFL as the first of Buffalo’s two fifth-round (134th overall) draft picks in 2006. In his eight-year career, Williams has registered 500 tackles (304 solo) and 29.0 sacks in 114 games played with 109 starts. Williams will be representing the Bills in his second consecutive Pro Bowl appearance and third overall (2010, 2012).
Mario Williams has enjoyed one of the best years of his eight year career in 2013. Highlighted by his franchise record setting 4.5 sack effort in Week Two versus Carolina, Williams has accumulated 13.0 sacks through the Bills’ first 15 contests. After registering 10.5 sacks in 2012, Williams became the first Bill to have back-to-back double digit sack seasons since Aaron Schobel in 2005-2006.
A 6-6, 292-pound North Carolina State product, Williams is in his second season with the Bills and entered the NFL as the number one overall pick of the Houston Texans in the 2006 NFL Draft. Over his eight year career, Williams has started each of his 113 career games played tallying 76.5 sacks, 321 tackles (256 solo), 14 forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries, 19 passes defensed and a touchdown. The selection marks Williams’ third Pro Bowl appearance (2008, 2009).
The 2014 Pro Bowl will be played on Sunday, January 26, and televised live on NBC at 7:00 PM ET from Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii. For the first time ever, the Pro Bowl will be “unconferenced.” Instead of the AFC vs. NFC matchup that has been the format since 1971, players will be selected without regard to conference in voting by fans, coaches and players. Players will be assigned to teams during the first-ever Pro Bowl Draft on NFL Network on Wednesday, January 22 at 8:00 PM ET.
Kansas City and San Francisco will have plenty of clout in Honolulu if they don't make it to New Jersey for the Super Bowl.
The NFL revealed Friday that the Chiefs and 49ers each had eight players voted into the Pro Bowl, including running backs Jamaal Charles of Kansas City and Frank Gore of San Francisco.
Denver quarterback Peyton Manning was selected to his 13th Pro Bowl after receiving the most votes among fans, 1.43 million. New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees was second among fans with 1.2 million votes.
The NFL combines votes from fans, players and coaches to determine 86 of 88 Pro Bowl players; the other two players are long-snappers selected by Pro Bowl coaches. Voting ended Thursday.
Under a new format this year, NFL greats Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders will divvy up the players in a two-day draft before the Jan. 26 game. Offensive and defensive players with the most votes who don't make it past the divisional playoff round will serve as active player captains.
Charles said Friday night on a reveal show on the NFL Network that he should be picked first.
"I think I got the best skillset of anybody on the roster," Charles said. "I think I can play wide receiver and then put the ball in my hand, also. The only thing I can't do is throw the ball."
Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly said he'll be fine wherever he's picked.
"I don't know, you got to get the guy who scores points," he said.
The schoolyard-style selections mean it's likely teammates will be forced to play on opposite sides. Players on the winning team will earn $53,000 while the losers will get $26,000 under the collective bargaining agreement.
San Francisco linebacker NaVorro Bowman said he thinks it would be weird to have to tackle Gore or Pro Bowl tight end Vernon Davis.
"I might not tackle him," Bowman said. "Just let him score and get his yards or whatever. Yeah, that'd be weird because that hasn't happened since training camp."
Rice and Sanders playfully bantered about possible selections, with Sanders saying he wanted players on his roster who haven't been to many Pro Bowls.
"If you have five years or more, don't even worry about it I'm not going to pick you," Sanders said. "Go play for Jerry."
Rice said later: "You're trying to bait me - that's not going to happen."
Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman received 552,600 votes by fans, the most for any defensive player. Houston defensive end J.J. Watt had just under 410,000 fan votes.
San Francisco is set to send eight players to the game for the second year in a row, though its players missed the game earlier this year because they made the Super Bowl, losing to Baltimore.
Kansas City's eight selections are up from six last year. The Chiefs are 11-4 this year - up from 2-14 last year - and the No. 5 seed in the AFC playoffs heading into a largely meaningless game for them against San Diego on Sunday.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Friday he has never been big on Pro Bowl selections.
"I'm happy for the guys when and if they make it. I'm proud of them for it," Reid said. "But we don't get caught up in all of the individual accolades. (We're) just getting ourselves ready to play."
Manning was one of five players selected from Denver, which has a shot at putting up the most points of any team in NFL history.
All but five teams had at least one player selected. Atlanta, Green Bay, Jacksonville and both New York teams had zero players selected.