Matthew Judon, The Lone New England Patriots Pro Bowler, Reflects On Fourth Consecutive Honor

The New England Patriots were represented by one when the NFL announced its rosters for the inaugural 2023 Pro Bowl Games.

For Matthew Judon, it’s now four years in a row.

The outside linebacker received the most votes of any member at his position in the AFC by the time fan balloting was followed by the league’s players and coaches.

“Just respect around the league amongst my peers and people that’s watching the game, coaches, it means a lot,” Judon told reporters during his Thursday press conference. “I want the team awards, but when you get these individual awards, you’re thankful. You’re playing a game, and it just means that people are watching you and taking notice. I’m very thankful. Everything you get in this league, you earn.”

After finishing last season with 12.5 sacks through 17 games, Judon has reset his career career high this season with 14.5 sacks through 14 games to tie for the NFL lead. Only Andre Tippett’s 1984 and 1985 totals stand ahead in franchise history. And by beginning the fall with six sacks through five games, his red sleeves broke another franchise record previously held by the Patriots Hall of Fame and Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee.

To go with the sacks, Judon stands with 50 tackles, three pass deflections, one fumble recovery and one forced fumble that became a touchdown return. At age 30, Pro Football Focus has also charted No. 9 with 31 hurries and 12 hits on opposing quarterbacks.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick informed the Grand Valley State product of his selection around 6 p.m. ET Wednesday.

“Things like this, you can’t take them for granted even if you’ve been there before,” added Judon. “Every year is a new year. Every opportunity that you get in the league, like I said, you earn. You just can’t take anything for granted in this league, man. It’s a lot of good players in this league, and just to be voted in between the fans and your peers and coaches, you’re just very thankful for what you get and what you earn.”

Before landing in Foxborough on a four-year, $54.5 million pact that included $30 million fully guaranteed, Judon landed with the Baltimore Ravens in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL draft at No. 146 overall. He finished his tenure there with back-to-back Pro Bowl honors before beginning his next tenure the same way.

The former Division II standout was among a trio of Patriots selected to the Pro Bowl on the original ballot last season, with special teams captain Matthew Slater and cornerback J.C. Jackson joining him before quarterback Mac Jones got the call as a rookie alternate.

“I believe a lot of people on our defense were worthy of consideration,” said Judon, who went on to mention fellow outside linebacker Josh Uche as well as safety Kyle Dugger. “… They’re going to continue to play and they’re going to continue to progress. I believe that they could be Pro Bowlers, All-Pros very soon.”

Judon agreed to a restructure as the calendar turned to December. After previously ranking atop New England with a cap charge of $16.5 million, the move opened $2.214 million in space for the organization to get through the remainder of 2022.

The 88 players from the AFC and NFC will compete in a series of Pro Bowl skills competitions in the week leading up to Super Bowl LVII. The events begin Feb. 2 and continue through Feb. 5 with a flag football game at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

But for the 7-7 Patriots, three games remain against three playoff teams.

“You got to come back to work,” Judon said. “It’s always next week until it ain’t. And so, we got an opportunity to go out there and play some more and put ourselves in a better position. But we got to go out there and win. It’s up to us to win, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

The Cincinnati Bengals visit Gillette Stadium for a 1 p.m. ET kickoff on Saturday.