By Steve Corkran
Tuesday, December 27th, 2011 at 7:24 pm in Oakland Raiders.
For the past 11 years, Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski needed a plane ticket and a game ticket if he wanted any part of the Pro Bowl. Not anymore.
Janikowski was one of three Raiders selected to the Pro Bowl, the league announced Tuesday afternoon. Punter Shane Lechler and defensive tackle Richardy Seymour were the two others.
“What a proud day for the Raiders,” coach Hue Jackson said in a team press release. “We’ve got three guys who exemplify exactly what we’re trying to become on this football team – Shane Lechler, Sebastian Janikowski and Richard Seymour. “We’re excited for them. Those guys will go over to Hawaii and represent us well.”
They might have company, too. Strong safety Tyvon Branch, defensive tackle Tommy Kelly, running back Darren McFadden and fullback Marcel Reece were named as alternates for the game that will be played Jan. 29, in Honolulu.
It’s quite commonplace for numerous players selected to bow out of the game, for one reason or other — injury, lack of interest, still in the playoffs, etc.
This is old hat for Lechler, who was selected for the seventh time in his 12 seasons. Hence, it isn’t surprising to hear that he is just as excited for close friend Janikowski, who has been bypassed before.
“[The selection is] just as exciting as the first time. As soon as I found out … I called (my wife) and told her, and she was
excited,” Lechler said. “I’m excited, and it never gets old because whenever you get voted in by your
peers, that’s the ultimate accomplishment.
“I’m so excited for [Janikowski]. It’s been so overdue for him, probably the best kicker in the league for at least the last five-six years and he’s hitting the ball so good this year. It’s going to be fun just to be able to be out there with him and his wife Laurie and kind of get away from the NFL life and go play an All-Star game.”
Seymour also was selected for the seventh time. He, too, seemed just as excited about the prospect of Janikowski being selected.
“It’s definitely a wonderful honor and I’m happy to go with my teammates who made it,” Seymour said. “I’m definitely
super excited for SeaBass. It’s been a long time coming for him; very deserving. I give my teammates and my coaches a lot of credit, they put me in the right position to make plays. I couldn’t be the player that I am without Tommy Kelly and the guys beside me. So, those guys are definitely deserving, as well, and their time is coming soon.”
Janikowski tied an NFL record with a 63-yard field goal in the regular-season opener. Later, he set a Raiders record with six field goals in one game.
One could make a case that Janikowski is having a career year. Even so, he has had other seasons when he merited a spot in the Pro Bowl,
“It feels great,” Janikowski said. “It took me awhile. I mean, only 12 years, but it feels great and it’s a great honor. I’m
happy to be there. I’m looking forward to it. I can’t do it without Jon Condo and Shane Lechler and the offensive line. They protected and did a great job and that’s what it takes.”
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