Nick Mangold and Antonio Cromartie of the New York Jets are headed to the 2014 Pro Bowl in Hawaii this weekend as replacement players. Nick Mangold was the first alternate at center when the initial rosters were released, Cromartie the second alternate at cornerback. With Aqib Talib of the New England Patriots injured and Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman headed to the Super Bowl, Antonio Cromartie will be part of the Pro Bowl festivities. Nick Mangold is stepping in for Seahawks center Max Unger.
This year's Pro Bowl is following an "unconferenced" format – players will no longer represent the AFC or NFC, but instead will be drafted to a team headed up by Deion Sanders or Jerry Rice. That means there is no guarantee that Nick Mangold and Antonio Cromartie will be on the same team at the Pro Bowl. The pair will serve as the only two New York jets representatives, with Muhammad Wilkerson an obvious snub.
Nick Mangold returns to the Pro Bowl after missing out last season, the first time he didn't participate in the Pro Bowl in four seasons. This will be his fifth Pro Bowl appearance. For Antonio Cromartie, this will be the second year in a row that he represents the Jets at the Pro Bowl. Cromartie posted three interceptions, a forced fumble and nine passes defensed this season. The selection comes at an interesting time for Antonio Cromartie, as he expects to be released by the Jets this offseason.
While many will open up their canned lines about how boring the Pro Bowl is once again this weekend, the viewership ratings have shown that people still tune in every year. It's football, and it is the bridge from the conference championship games to the Super Bowl. Jets fans will have a rooting interest in two specific participants this year, Nick Mangold and Antonio Cromartie.
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