IN 1998, the Eagles were 3-13 and placed nobody on the NFC Pro Bowl team.

Fifteen seasons later, for only the third time since the postseason accolades began in 1951, the Eagles have been shut out again. The Birds were among eight NFL teams with no selections announced last night at the conclusion of a mysterious process that currently involves players, fans and coaches.

There is an extremely slim chance the 2012 Eagles will not stay shut out, when all is said and done. A source close to the situation said left guard Evan Mathis is a third alternate for the NFC team. Given that the Super Bowl participants don't play in the game anymore, and lots of players beg off because of injuries, it's barely possible Mathis will make it to the Jan. 27 all-star show in Honolulu.

With the Eagles 4-11, having lost 10 of their last 11 games, and with several of their most prominent players having missed significant time to injury, it wasn't a shock no one made it outright. But Mathis, middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans and kicker Alex Henery would seem to have had good cases as first or second alternates.

Lots of NFL people question the validity of the selections - Packers center Jeff Saturday made the NFC team, a week after he lost his starting job - but it sure seems you can chart the Eagles' decline from nine players placed on the squad after the 2009 season (including alternates who made it), five the next year and three in 2011, before they were shut out this season.

Eagles left tackle Jason Peters, who missed this season after Achilles' surgery, saw his streak of five successive Pro Bowls snapped.

-Les Bowen