In three short hours, the 2015 Pro Bowl will kick off in University of Phoenix Stadium, the home of Super Bowl XLIX. Former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver and alumni team captain, Michael Irvin, did not shy away from picking up a few Cowboys.
In fact, the self-nicknamed, “The Playmaker,” chose all but one of Dallas’ Pro Bowl invitees. The loner of the group was recently added long-snapper L.P. Ladouceur.
“After 10 years, to get a little reward like this, it’s a little cherry on top of the Sunday for me,” Ladouceur said. “It’s pretty good.”
With his first pick in the draft, Irvin chose Tony Romo as his quarterback. He later chose the league’s rushing title winner, DeMarco Murray, the Canton-bound tight end Jason Witten (who replaces Denver TE Julius Thomas) and three of their offensive linemen—including rookie guard Zack Martin (Notre Dame)—whom Dallas chose No. 16 overall back in May. Martin is the first rookie offensive lineman in franchise history invited to the Pro Bowl.
“I don’t know if I’d be here right now if I didn’t get drafted in Dallas,” Martin said. “It’s great to be here and meet all of these guys from other teams. I’ve watched some of these guys for a while over the past decade. But to have so many of our guys here and the coaching staff, it’s made it an easier transition this week. I’m just trying to soak it up and have some fun.”
Dez Bryant was the league’s leader in touchdown receptions this season. Dallas head coach Jason Garrett compares Dez to Irvin, and was originally selected to play in the Pro Bowl; but due to a persistent groin injury, he chose to sit this one out.
Irvin chose Murray even after suffering a broken hand in the regular season, leading to a surgery a month ago. Murray was happy to be chosen, and feels good about the hand.
“I love playing, so I’m not going to (sit out),” Murray said. “The hand’s all right, so I’m excited to just go out there have fun and compete.”
Murray was selected as one of the four player captains. He joins Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden, MVP candidate J.J. Watt (Houston) and the league’s leading receiver, Antonio Brown (Steelers).
On the other side of the draft board, alumni captain Cris Carter chose Andrew Luck as his No. 1 pick. Romo joked around with Irvin prior to the draft saying “(he) wouldn’t be allowed on the team plane” if he didn’t pick him.
Team Carter and Team Irvin split up their teams between a pool of 88 players. Carter stacked Luck’s receiving core with Colt’s teammate T.Y. Hilton, Brown, A.J. Green (Cincinnati) and Jordy Nelson (Green Bay).
Romo is joined by Golden Tate (Detroit), Emmanuel Sanders (Denver), Randall Cobb (Green Bay) and rookie star Odell Beckham Jr. ( New York Giants).
Irvin even acquired Dallas’ coaching staff, while Carter receives John Harbaugh and his Ravens personnel. Perhaps the chemistry between Team Irvin’s coaching staff and Cowboy-dominant roster will give them a slight advantage.
“Some of my favorite NFL memories were from my Pro Bowl trips,” says Irvin.