When the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the NY Jets Sunday night in the AFC Championship game, it opened up two spots on the Pro Bowl roster for the AFC. The NFL selected Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali to replace Steelers linebacker, James Harrison, and rookie safety Eric Berry to replace Troy Polamalu.
The duo will make their initial Pro Bowl appearance, joining wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, quarterback Matt Cassel, running back Jamaal Charles and guard Brian Waters on the AFC squad.
Hali started all 16 games in 2010, setting a career high with 14.5 sacks to lead the AFC and rank second in the NFL. Yet, unbelievably, he was not chosen for the team initially. That was undoubtedly a reaction to Hali playing in Kansas City – far from the media centers of the NFL – along with the fact that Hali is a very quiet and businesslike player. The anti-Ochocinco, if you will.
Hali was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts in a 31-10 win vs. San Francisco (9/26) when he tied a career high with 3.0 sacks and added a forced fumble, two tackles and three QB pressures.
Berry, the fifth pick in last April’s draft, becomes the first Chiefs rookie to earn Pro Bowl honors since linebacker Derrick Thomas made the team in 1989.
The rookie from the University of Tennessee had 126 tackles (82 solo), 2.0 sacks, 1 forced fumble, and four interceptions including one returned for a TD in the division-clinching win over, ironically, the Tennessee Titans. He started all 16 games for the club. He was named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month for December, and was a finalist for the NFL Rookie of the Week honors on five occasions during 2010.
The six Chiefs players in the Pro Bowl are the most for the Chiefs since 2005 (Green, Gonzo, LJ, Roaf, Shields and Waters).
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