State Football Briefs: Sitton on his way to the Pro BowlWisconsin Sports
-- Packers’ guard Josh Sitton was named to the Pro Bowl yesterday.
GREEN BAY - Green Bay Packers’ guard Josh Sitton was named to the Pro Bowl yesterday. He replaces Mike Iupati of San Francisco, who cannot go to Hawaii because the 49’ers will be at the Super Bowl the following week.
Iupati was elected as a starter for the NFC team in Honolulu, and Sitton is the automatic replacement because he was chosen as the first alternate. Sitton is a fifth-year pro who received his first Pro Bowl bid. He started every game at right guard for the Packers in the 2012 season, including the playoffs. Sitton will join center Jeff Saturday and linebacker Clay Matthews, who were both elected to the NFC squad as reserves. Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers was elected to start – but he won’t be going due to a reported knee injury. Green Bay’s coaching staff will lead the NFC team for the second straight year. The highest-seeded team that lost in the divisional round gets that honor.
Brookfield native Joe Thomas is one of three finalists for the NFL’s Man of the Year award. Thomas starred at Wisconsin before the Cleveland Browns made him the Number-Three overall pick in the 2007 draft. He joins Arizona receiver Larry Fitzgerald and Dallas tight end Jason Witten as the finalists for the Man-of-the-Year award. The nominees were announced last night, during halftime of the AFC Championship Game. The award is named in honor of the late Chicago Bears’ star Walter Payton – and it’s the only NFL honor which recognizes player contributions off-the-field as well as on. Thomas has played every snap for the Browns in his six-year NFL career, and he has made the Pro Bowl each season. In 2010, Thomas traveled over 14,000 miles to visit troops in Afghanistan as part of a USO Tour – and the NFL says he’s still in contact with many of the troops he met on that trip. He has also supported a national effort by the U-S-O to raise funds to support those in the military. A year ago, Thomas went to the Pentagon to take part in an NFL-sponsored campaign to help educate people about the effects of traumatic brain injuries. He’s also the largest contributor to Cleveland’s “Kids in Need Resource Center,” which provides school supplies to 180 schools in impoverished areas. And Thomas is part of a host of other charities.
Wisconsin native Colin Kaepernick and his San Francisco 49’ers are an early four-point favorite to beat Baltimore in Super Bowl-47. Kaepernick threw for 233 yards and a touchdown, as the Niners came back from a 17-0 deficit to win the NFC Championship Game at Atlanta, 28-24. Unlike a week ago, when Kaepernick carved through Green Bay’s defense for 181 rushing yards, he earned most of his success against the Falcons by throwing in the pocket. He only had two carries yesterday for 21 yards. Kaepernick was born in Milwaukee and moved from New London to California when he was four. He still has family in eastern Wisconsin. Meanwhile, ex-Packer Vonta Leach will try to help Ray Lewis go out on top for Baltimore. Lewis, the vaunted Baltimore linebacker, earned a chance for his second Super Bowl title before he retires at the end of the season. Leach is an eighth-year NFL fullback who played his first two-plus seasons in Green Bay. He had nine yards on two carries yesterday, as Baltimore eliminated New England 28-13. San Francisco made the Super Bowl for the first time since the 1994 season, and Baltimore is in the league title game for the first time in a dozen years. Atlanta’s loss means that former Badgers’ center Peter Konz will have just missed out on the Super Bowl in his rookie season. Konz gave up his senior year in Madison for a shot at the pros.