Now that John Kuhn is a Pro-Bowl fullback, the long, drawn-out chant of his last name from the Lambeau Field faithful should only get louder when the Packers offense nears the goal line.
“I can only imagine,” Kuhn said. “They are truly football fans here in Wisconsin. They won’t let this one slide by.”
Kuhn was one of seven Packers named to the Pro Bowl roster on Tuesday and one of four starters. He’s joined as an NFC starter by quarterback Aaron Rodgers, cornerback Charles Woodson and linebacker Clay Matthews.
Named to the NFC squad as reserves are receiver Greg Jennings, center Scott Wells and defensive lineman B.J. Raji. Along with Kuhn, Wells and Raji are first-time Pro Bowlers. The seven selections are Green Bay's most, not including alternates, since having nine in 1967.
Since joining the Packers in 2007 as a waiver claim from Pittsburgh, Kuhn has developed into a cult hero among fans for both the sound of his name and for the glory he occasionally gets at the non-glamorous position of fullback.
Kuhn has six touchdowns this season – four rushing and two receiving – which matches his career high from a season ago. He believes he’s having his best year and said he appreciates the recognition from fans, fellow players and coaches, all of whose votes count one-third in the selection process.
He’s also flattered at the attention he receives with the chant, which he’s often heard at road games, as well.
“I think it’s the fact that I relate to them somewhat,” Kuhn said of the fans’ fondness for him. “I’ve done the ‘Tailgate Tour’ and some other things out in the community that let them see that I’m just a regular person, too.
“I think they really like to relate with me and how I made it in the NFL, being an undrafted free agent and working hard my whole career to just get better every day.”
Wells, an eight-year veteran, followed a similarly less-noteworthy path, coming to Green Bay as a seventh-round draft pick in 2004 and beginning his career on the practice squad. He was a Pro Bowl alternate once before, in 2007, and then he briefly lost his starting spot in 2009 before getting it back and never letting go.
“For it to take this long and to finally make it, it definitely is big for me,” said Wells, who called this probably his best season. “It’s always been a dream of mine, so I am excited.
“I take it as an honor, being a part of a special team. As a team is successful, the individual accolades come.”
Raji’s selection is the most historic. It’s been almost 40 years since a Green Bay defensive tackle made the Pro Bowl (Bob Brown in 1972). Raji was an alternate last year.
“It’s one of those things with the position that I play, a lot of times you kind of feel like your contributions go unnoticed,” he said. “But this is just confirmation that somebody out there is noticing the work I’ve put in and some of the plays I make, and I’m appreciative for that.”
Woodson, who leads the NFC and is tied for first in the NFL with seven interceptions, has the most Pro-Bowl selections among current Packers, with eight. He’s been chosen four straight years with Green Bay, all as a starter, after beginning his career with four straight selections as a member of the Oakland Raiders (1998-2001).
Rodgers, considered a favorite for his first MVP award as he sits atop the league rankings in passer rating (122.5), touchdown passes (45), yards per attempt (9.25) and interception percentage (1.2), earned his second Pro-Bowl selection. He was also chosen in 2009 as a reserve but ended up starting the game.
Matthews has now been selected all three years of his career, including the last two as a starter. He’s the first Packer since running back John Brockington (1971-73) to earn Pro-Bowl recognition his first three years in the league. Matthews leads the Packers with six sacks and has career highs in interceptions and forced fumbles, with three of each this season.
Jennings is a Pro-Bowler for the second straight year. In the season’s first 13 games, he compiled 949 yards receiving and nine touchdowns, before going down with a knee injury. He is expected back for the playoffs.
Kicker Mason Crosby is a first alternate, while six other Packers are also on the alternate list: tight end Jermichael Finley, kick-returner Randall Cobb, receiver Jordy Nelson, linebacker Desmond Bishop, guard Josh Sitton and cornerback Tramon Williams.
After alternates were tabbed for the NFC squad a year ago, the Packers had eight Pro-Bowlers, their most since the nine in '67. They could surpass both of those totals this year when it’s all said and done. The four starters are Green Bay’s most since having five in 1998.
The 2012 Pro Bowl will take place on Sunday, Jan. 29, in Hawaii. Last year, the eight Packers on the NFC roster did not participate in the game because, of course, the Packers were playing in the Super Bowl the following week.