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Funny how these Pro Bowl votes turn out. No one can explain it, just as it’s often difficult to explain presidential elections.
But all of the sudden, Chargers nose tackle Jamal Williams and Chargers fullback Lorenzo Neal are going to their second straight Pro Bowl after years of being slighted in the vote that includes fans but is primarily determined by players and coaches. Now they’re approaching the status of perennial picks.
The 2005 and 2006 seasons were the first two trips for Williams, now in his ninth season, but Neal, now in his 14th season, is making his third trip after first going in 2002.
“Jamal and I have traveled the same road,” Neal said. “I had been first alternate, I would make the All-Madden team and the All-Joe team and I’d pack my bags. But I wouldn’t go. Sam Gash would go, Larry Centers would go, Tony Richardson would go. I started to wonder if this would ever happen for me. I didn’t make until my 10th year.”
Although Neal, a blocking back, gains his recognition for clearing the way a 1,000-yard rusher for 10 straight seasons – including this season, his fourth with LaDainian Tomlinson – he can still make first downs in short-yardage situations. His streak of 105 consecutive carries without losing yardage is the longest in the NFL and dates back to the 2000 season.
The easy answer to some of these mystifying votes is players on winning teams are rewarded. But it’s not always the answer.
“Probably so, but I made it in Cincinnati, and we didn’t win at all,” Neal said. “I still think a lot of it has to do with how you play.”
But not always enough of it has to do with how you play or Williams and Neal would have more career Pro Bowl picks.