Rice sent home for disciplinary reasons

Updated: February 8, 2004, 10:36 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

HONOLULU -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Simeon Rice was sent home from the Pro Bowl on Friday night for disciplinary reasons.

Rice, a second-team All-Pro, arrived late in Hawaii and missed meetings and practices in the week leading up to Sunday's game. Players have been known to arrive late for Pro Bowl week or miss practices in the past, but Rice was dropped by NFC coach Andy Reid.

Rice said in a statement released Sunday: "I would like to apologize to fans all over the country who expected to see me play in the Pro Bowl today, as I expected to be playing.

"Until we have an official explanation from the NFL for the action it has taken, I have no further statement, except to say I have nothing but respect for my teammates and gratitude to the football fans who elected me to the NFC Pro Bowl team again this year."

Rice will be replaced on the NFC's roster by the Green Bay Packers' Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila.

Rice had another superb season with 15 sacks and two interceptions. An eight-year NFL veteran scheduled to make his third Pro Bowl appearance, Rice has not missed a regular-season game for the Bucs since joining them before the 2001-02 season.

Several of his teammates were unaware of the move as they practiced at Aloha Stadium on Saturday.

Rice and San Francisco 49ers receiver Terrell Owens were fined for missing a practice during the week leading up to last season's Pro Bowl. Both were allowed to play in the game.

Gbaja-Biamila had 10 sacks this season, becoming the first Packers player to reach double digits in sacks in three straight seasons. He was scheduled to arrive in Hawaii on Saturday night.

He joins four Green Bay teammates -- running back Ahman Green, tight end Bubba Franks, offensive linemen Marco Rivera and Mike Flanagan -- in the Packers' largest Pro Bowl contingent in five years. Quarterback Brett Favre also was chosen for the game but won't play because of injury.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.