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5 Tampa Bay Bucs featured in what’s-leftover Pro Bowl

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It has happened: The meek have officially inherited the earth.

The Tennessee Titans have two players in the NFL Pro Bowl. The Cleveland Browns have three. Each team won three games this season.

The Tampa Bay Bucs have five players. The Oakland Raiders have six. Together, the teams won 13 games.

The Dallas Cowboys have five players and won four games. The Dolphins have five players and won six games.

Welcome to the Pro Bowl, where being an all-star doesn’t necessarily make a player elite. This year, there were 133 Pro Bowl players after all the defections.

Of course, no one blames the Panthers or Broncos players for withdrawing. But all seven members of the New England Patriots? Doesn’t a free trip to Hawaii mean anything anymore?

For teams such as the Bucs, for instance, this qualifies as the post-season. Quarterback Jameis Winston, running back Doug Martin, guard Logan Mankins, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, and linebacker Lavonte David will represent a team that hasn’t won in the post-season since the one that followed the 2002 season.

That’ll be fine with Bucs’ fans. But how about those in Buffalo, where four players made it? In Philadelphia, where four made it. It lacks a little luster, to tell you the truth.

Three years ago, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was concerned about the quality of play in the Pro Bowl. Now, perhaps he will be concerned by the quality of players.

Game time is 7 p.m.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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