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Monday, February 1, 2010

Chargers Shine In Pro Bowl


Four Chargers players played key roles and Head Coach Norv Turner and his staff led the AFC squad to a 41-34 win in the Pro Bowl Sunday night.

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. - The 2010 Pro Bowl was a lot different than in past years. It was set in a new location, played two weeks earlier than in years past and had a bit of a different atmosphere.

But for the Chargers’ coaches and four players who had a hand in the AFC’s 41-34 win Sunday night at Miami’s Sun Life Stadium, the honor of participating in the NFL’s all-star game carried the same weight.

“It was a little bit different because it was earlier and it wasn’t in Hawaii, but it was a great experience,” tight end Antonio Gates said. “It’s always fun to come here and see the guys and play against the guys. It’s always special to be a part of this.”

Gates, who earned Pro Bowl honors for the sixth-consecutive season, caught three passes for 29 yards Sunday night. Statistically, he had the best season of his career in 2009 and after his long road back from major toe surgery two years ago, making it back to the Pro Bowl carried a lot of weight for Gates.

“There’s a lot of turnover in this league and we’re a really blessed group to be here,” Gates said. “You think about all the guys who work hard every day to perform on Sunday and don’t get invited here, it makes you realize that we’re blessed to be in this game. Over time it gets harder and harder so to be able to make it and be recognized as one of the elite tight ends in this league, that’s special.”

While Gates is a Pro Bowl veteran, Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson earned the honors for the first time this season and made the most of his experience. Sunday night, he posted a game-high seven catches for 122 yards, including a 48-yard touchdown on the opening drive of the second half.

“I can’t say enough about how amazing this week was,” Jackson said. “There’s been a lot of talk about the transition from Hawaii and all, but I had a great time. The accommodations were great. Having my family and friends here was great. I’m honored to be here.”

Kris Dielman played both left and right guard in Sunday’s game as he was part of the AFC victory. His third-consecutive Pro Bowl was another extremely enjoyable one.

“Things were a little different this year but the experience never gets old,” Dielman said. “You get to be around the best players in the league and it humbles you to know that you’re part of that group. It was another great week.”

Wide receiver Kassim Osgood made the Pro Bowl for the third time as a special teamer. He recorded one special teams tackle and caught an 18-yard pass Sunday.

Head Coach Norv Turner and his staff coached the AFC squad, and while earlier in the week Turner admitted that the layout was a little difficult with Pro Bowl week coming just a week after the Chargers’ season-ending loss to the Jets, he laughed with players Sunday and enjoyed himself.

“I really enjoyed the week,” Turner said. “It was great being around this caliber of athletes. They are a great group of men and it has been fun. For our guys (Chargers) that made it, they deserve to be here. They earned the right. I thought that they really did a nice job in practice and had a good week.”

As an added bonus for their week of work, the AFC players were awarded $45,000 for winning the game, compared to $22,500 for the NFC team. The payout was a nice way to cap a great week.

“It makes it an even better experience when you win that $45,000,” Gates said. “I’m pretty happy about that.”

Notes: On January 31, Philip Rivers' newest daughter, Sarah Catherine was born. A really big congratulations to Philip and his family, on behalf of the Charger Nation!