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Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Forte: Pro Bowl draft led to playful jabs

By Michael C. Wright
ESPN.com

Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte enjoyed the new format of the Pro Bowl, but the draft leading into it was “way too long,” he said, leading to some ribbing behind the scenes with teammate Brandon Marshall.

Marshall and Forte weren’t taken until the 16th and 19th rounds, respectively by Hall of Fame Jerry Rice, whose team went on to defeat the team of Deion Sanders, 22-21. Forte finished as his team’s leading rusher (31 yards on six attempts), while Marshall caught one pass for 21 yards.

“It is stressful. After a while, you’re like, ‘All these guys are getting picked, and I’m not really getting [picked],’” Forte said Wednesday on NFL Network. “We were both back there actually making fun of each other. Some of the receivers went, and I was like, ‘Ah, you’re old. This is gonna be your ninth year. You’re getting old.’ Then they picked [Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy], and a couple of other running backs -- [Dallas’] DeMarco [Murray] went, [Philadelphia’s] LeSean [McCoy] went -- and I was back there. [Marshall] was looking at me like, ‘You’re old. You’re getting old, too.’”

Despite all the jokes in the background, both Forte and Marshall seemed genuinely offended by their draft position. Shortly after Rice took Marshall, the receiver walked over to Sanders, a Hall of Fame cornerback and alumni team captain.

Forte, Marshall and Alshon Jeffery played on Rice’s winning team. Rookie guard Kyle Long was assigned to Sanders’ team on the first day of the draft, where he teamed with Bears cornerback Tim Jennings, who was also assigned to that team in the 20th round.

The 2014 Pro Bowl represented a format change implemented last July in an attempt to re-energize the league’s annual all-star game.

With Rice and Sanders as alumni team captains, both had a say in which players ended up on the teams, along with input from player captains. J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans and Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles served as the player captains on Sanders’ team. New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and St. Louis defensive end Robert Quinn held the title of player captains for Rice’s team.