Pro Bowl

Pro Bowl
The current logo for the NFL Pro Bowl.
First played 1951

Recent and upcoming games
2017 season
January 28, 2018 (Details)
2018 season
January 27, 2019 (Details)

The Pro Bowl is the all-star game of the National Football League (NFL). From the merger with the rival American Football League (AFL) in 1970 up through 2013 and since 2017, it is officially called the AFC–NFC Pro Bowl, matching the top players in the American Football Conference (AFC) against those in the National Football Conference (NFC). From 2014 through 2016, the NFL experimented with an unconferenced format, where the teams were selected by two honorary team captains (who are each in the Hall of Fame), instead of selecting players from each conference. The players were picked in a televised "schoolyard pick" prior to the game.[1]

Unlike most major sports leagues, which hold their all-star games roughly midway through their regular seasons, the Pro Bowl is played around the end of the NFL season. Between 1970 and 2009, it was usually held the weekend after the Super Bowl. Since 2010, the Pro Bowl has been played the weekend before the Super Bowl. Players from the two teams competing in the Super Bowl do not participate.

Observers and commentators expressed their disfavor with the Pro Bowl in its current state.[2] It draws lower TV ratings than its regular-season games,[3] although the game draws similar ratings to other major all-star games, such as the Major League Baseball All-Star Game.[4] However, the biggest concern of teams is to avoid injuries to the star players.[5] The Associated Press wrote that players in the 2012 game were "hitting each other as though they were having a pillow fight".[6]

Between 1980 and 2016, the game was played at Aloha Stadium in Hawaii, save for two years. On June 1, 2016, the NFL announced that they reached a multi-year deal to move the game to Orlando, Florida as part of the league's ongoing efforts to make the game more relevant. For years, the game has suffered from lack of interest due to perceived low quality. The 2017 Pro Bowl marked a return to the AFCNFC format.[7][8]

History of the Pro Bowl

The first "Pro All-Star Game", featuring the all-stars of the 1938 season (as well as three players from the Los Angeles Bulldogs and Hollywood Bears, who were not members of the league), was played on January 15, 1939 at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles.[9][10] The NFL All-Star Game was played again in Los Angeles in 1940 and then in New York and Philadelphia in 1941 and 1942 respectively. Although originally planned as an annual contest, the all-star game was discontinued after 1942 because of travel restrictions put in place during World War II.[11] During the first five all-star games, an all-star team would face that year's league champion. The league champion won the first four games before the all-stars were victorious in the final game of this early series.

The concept of an all-star game was not revived until June 1950, when the newly christened "Pro Bowl" was approved.[11] The game was sponsored by the Los Angeles Publishers Association. It was decided that the game would feature all-star teams from each of the league's two conferences rather than the league champion versus all-star format which had been used previously. This was done to avoid confusion with the Chicago College All-Star Game, an annual game which featured the league champion against a collegiate all-star team. The teams would be led by the coach of each of the conference champions.[11] Immediately prior to the Pro Bowl, following the 1949 season, the All-America Football Conference, which contributed three teams to the NFL in a partial merger in 1950, held its own all-star game, the Shamrock Bowl.

The first 21 games of the series (19511972) were played in Los Angeles. The site of the game was changed annually for each of the next seven years before the game was moved to Aloha Stadium in Halawa, Hawaii for 30 straight seasons from 1980 through 2009. The 2010 Pro Bowl was played at Sun Life Stadium, the home stadium of the Miami Dolphins and host site of Super Bowl XLIV, on January 31, the first time ever that the Pro Bowl was held before the championship game (a decision probably due to increasingly low Nielsen ratings from being regarded as an anti-climax to the Super Bowl). With the new rule being that the conference teams do not include players from the teams that will be playing in the Super Bowl, the Pro Bowl then returned to Hawaii in 2011 but was again held during the week before the Super Bowl, where it remained for three more years.

The 2012 game was met with criticism from fans and sports writers for the lack of quality play by the players (see below). On October 24, 2012, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had second thoughts about the Pro Bowl, telling a Sirius XM show that if the players did not play more competitively [in the 2013 Pro Bowl], he was "not inclined to play it anymore".[12][13] During the ensuing off-season, the NFL Players Association lobbied to keep the Pro Bowl, and negotiated several rule changes to be implemented for the 2014 game. Among them, the teams will no longer be AFC vs. NFC, and instead be selected by captains in a fantasy draft. For the 2014 game, Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders were chosen as alumni captains, while their captains were Drew Brees and Robert Quinn (Rice), along with Jamaal Charles and J. J. Watt (Sanders).[14]

On April 9, 2014, the NFL announced that the 2015 Pro Bowl would be played the week before the Super Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona on January 25, 2015.[15] The game returned to Hawaii in 2016, and the "unconferenced" format was its last.[16]

For 2017, the league considered hosting the game at Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which if approved will be the first time the game has been hosted outside the United States.[17] The NFL is also considering future Pro Bowls in Mexico and Germany. The NFL hopes that by leveraging international markets with the star power of Pro Bowls, international popularity and viewership will increase.[18] A report released May 19, 2016, indicated that the 2017 Pro Bowl would instead be hosted at a newly renovated Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida; Orlando beat out Brazil (which apparently did not make the final round of voting), Honolulu, Super Bowl host site Houston, and a bid from Sydney, Australia for the hosting rights.[19] On June 1, 2016, the league announced that it was restoring the old conference format.[20]

Player selection

Currently, players are voted into the Pro Bowl by the coaches, the players themselves, and the fans. Each group's ballots count for one third of the votes. The fans vote online at the NFL's official website. There are also replacements that go to the game should any selected player be unable to play due to injuries. Prior to 1995, only the coaches and the players made Pro Bowl selections.

In order to be considered a Pro Bowler for a given year, a player must either have been one of the initial players selected to the team, or a player who accepts an invitation to the Pro Bowl as an alternate; invited alternates who decline to attend are not considered Pro Bowlers. Since 2010, players whose teams advanced to the Super Bowl do not play in the Pro Bowl, and they are replaced by alternate players.

From 2014 to 2016, players did not play according to conference; instead, were placed in a draft pool and chosen by team captains.[14]

Coaching staff

When the Pro Bowl was held after the Super Bowl, the head coaches were traditionally the head coaches of the teams that lost in the AFC and NFC championship games for the same season of the Pro Bowl in question. From 1978 through 1982, the head coaches of the highest ranked divisional champion that lost in the Divisional Playoff Round were chosen.[21] For the 1983 Pro Bowl, the NFL resumed selecting the losing head coaches in the conference championship games. In the 1999 Pro Bowl, New York Jets head coach Bill Parcells, after his team lost to the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship Game, had to decline due to health reasons and Jets assistant head coach Bill Belichick took his place.[22]

When the Pro Bowl was moved to the weekend between the Conference Championship games and the Super Bowl in 2009, the team that lost in the Divisional Playoff Round with the best regular-season record would have their coaching staffs lead their respective conference Pro Bowl team returning to the format used from 1978–1982. It remained that way through 2013; it resumed in 2017. If the losing teams of each conference had the same regular season record the coaches from the higher-seeded team will get the Pro Bowl honor.[23] From 2014 to 2016, the Pro Bowl coaches came from the two teams with the best records that lost in the Divisional Playoffs. (In the 2015 Pro Bowl, when John Fox left his coaching job with Denver after his playoff loss to Indianapolis that year, John Harbaugh of Baltimore took over. The next year saw Green Bay's assistant coach Winston Moss took over as Mike McCarthy resigned from coaching due to illness.)

Game honors

A Player of the Game was honored 1951–1956. 1957–1971, awards were presented to both an Outstanding Back and an Outstanding Lineman. In 1972 and since 2014, there are awards for both an Outstanding Offensive Player and an Outstanding Defensive Player. 1973–2007, only one Player of the Game award was honored (though thrice this award has been presented to multiple players in a single game). In 2008 the award was changed to Most Valuable Player (MVP).[24]

Players are paid for participating in the game with the winning team receiving a larger payout. The chart below shows how much the players of their respective teams earn:

YearsWinnersLosers
2011/2013$50,000$25,000
2012$65,000$40,000
2014$53,000$26,000
2015/2016$55,000$28,000
2017$61,000$30,000
2018$64,000$32,000

Rule differences

The Pro Bowl has different rules from other NFL games to make the game safer.[25][26]

  • No motion or shifting by the offense
  • Offense must have a running back and tight end in all formations
  • Offense may have 1 or 2 receivers on the same side
  • Intentional grounding is legal
  • Defense must run a 4–3 at all times, though the Cover 2 and press coverage is allowed[14]
  • No blitz; DEs and tackles can rush on passing plays, provided they are on same side of ball
  • No blindside or below the waist blocks
  • Can not rush punts, PATs or FG attempts
  • Coin toss determines who receives first; loser receives to start 3rd period
  • Kickoffs are eliminated (including free kicks)[14]
  • Teams will start on their own 25-yard line after any score or at the start of each half/odd overtime[14]
  • 38-second play clock to run plays
  • Deep middle safety must be aligned within hash marks
  • Replay reviews are allowed
  • 44-player roster per team

In case of a tie after regulation, multiple 15-minute OT periods will be played (with each team receiving two time outs per period), and in the first overtime teams receive one possession to score unless one of them scores a touchdown/safety on its first possession. True sudden death rules apply thereafter if both teams have had their initial possession and the game remains tied. The Pro Bowl is not allowed to end in a tie, unlike preseason and regular season games. (In general, beyond the 1st overtime, whoever scores first wins. The first overtime starts as if the game had started over, like the NFL Playoffs.)

Pro Bowl uniforms

The teams are made of players from different NFL teams, so using their own uniforms would be too confusing. The players each wear the helmet of their team, but the home jerseys and pants are either a solid blue for the NFC or solid red for the AFC, with white jerseys with blue or red accents, respectively, for the away team. While it had been speculated that the color of Pro Bowl jerseys was determined by the winner of the Super Bowl—as it had been played post-Super Bowl for many years—this is untrue. The design of Pro Bowl uniforms is changed every two years, and the color and white jerseys are rotated along with the design change. This has been Pro Bowl tradition since the switch to team specific helmets, which started with the January 1979 game. The two-year switch was originally created as a marketing ploy by Nike, and was continued by Reebok, which won the merchandising contract in 2002. Nike subsequently won the contract back in 2011.

The early Pro Bowl, contested by the National Football League's Eastern and Western Division stars and played at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, featured the same uniforms from the 1950s to mid-1960s; the Eastern team wore scarlet jerseys with white numerals and a white crescent shoulder stripe, white pants with red stripe, red socks, and a plain red helmet. The Western team wore white jerseys with royal-blue numerals and a Northwestern University-style Ukon triple stripe on the sleeves, white pants with blue stripe and socks and a plain blue helmet. Perhaps oddly, the Eastern team wore home dark jerseys, although the host city team, the Los Angeles Rams, were members of the Western Conference. From January 1967 to January 1970 both teams wore gold helmets with the NFL logo on the sides; the Eastern helmets featured a red-white-red tri-stripe and the Western a similar blue-white-blue tri-stripe. In fact, the players brought their own game helmets to Los Angeles, which were then spray-painted and decorated for the contest. For the 1970 game the helmets featured the '50 NFL' logo, commemorating the league's half-century anniversary.

In the earliest years of the AFC–NFC Pro Bowl, the players did not wear their unique helmets, as they do now. The AFC All-Stars wore a solid red helmet with a white A on it, while the NFC players wore a solid white helmet with a blue N on it. The AFC's red helmets were paired with white jerseys and red pants, while the NFC's white helmets were paired with blue jerseys and white pants.

Two players with the same number who are elected to the Pro Bowl can now wear the same number for that game. This was not always the case in the past.

The 2008 Pro Bowl included a unique example of several players from the same team wearing the same number in a Pro Bowl. For the game, Washington Redskins players T Chris Samuels, TE Chris Cooley, and LS Ethan Albright all wore the number 21 (a number normally inappropriate for their positions) in memory of their teammate Sean Taylor, who had been murdered during the 2007 season.[27]

On October 7, 2013, Nike unveiled the uniforms for the 2014 Pro Bowl, which revealed that the red, white and blue colors that the game uniforms bore throughout its entire history will no longer be used for this game. As the NFC–AFC format was not used between 2014 through 2016, team 1 sported a white uniform with bright orange and team 2 sported a gray uniform with volt green.[28] The new uniforms received mixed reviews from fans and sports columnists alike, one even mentioning that the game would look like an "Oregon vs. Oklahoma State" game.[29]

Since 2017, when the conference format was restored, the league takes an approach similar to the NFL Color Rush initiative, in which jerseys, pants, and socks were all a uniform colour (red for the AFC, blue for the NFC).

Game results

NFL All-Star Games (1938–1942)

No Most Valuable Player awards were presented during these games
SeasonDateScoreVenueAttendanceHead coaches
1938January 15, 1939New York Giants 13, NFL All-Stars 10Wrigley Field15,000[30]AS: Ray Flaherty (Washington) and Gus Henderson (Detroit)
NY: Steve Owen
1939January 14, 1940Green Bay Packers 16, NFL All-Stars 7Gilmore Stadium18,000AS: Steve Owen (New York)
GB: Curly Lambeau
1940December 29, 1940Chicago Bears 28, NFL All-Stars 14Gilmore Stadium21,624AS: Ray Flaherty (Washington)
CB: George Halas
1941January 4, 1942Chicago Bears 35, NFL All-Stars 24Polo Grounds17,725AS: Steve Owen (New York)
CB: George Halas
1942December 27, 1942NFL All-Stars 17, Washington Redskins 14Shibe Park18,671AS: Hunk Anderson (Chicago Bears)
Wash: Ray Flaherty
No game were played from 1943 to 1950

NFL Pro Bowls (1950–1969)

SeasonDateScoreSeriesMost Valuable PlayersVenue[31]AttendanceHead coachesNetwork
1950January 14, 1951American Conference 28, National Conference 27AC, 1–0Otto Graham, Cleveland Browns, QuarterbackLos Angeles Memorial Coliseum53,676AC: Paul Brown, Cleveland
NC: Joe Stydahar, Los Angeles
1951January 12, 1952[32]National Conference 30, American Conference 13Tied, 1–1Dan Towler, Los Angeles Rams, Running backLos Angeles Memorial Coliseum19,400AC: Paul Brown, Cleveland
NC: Joe Stydahar, Los Angeles
NBC
1952January 10, 1953[32]National Conference 27, American Conference 7NC, 2–1Don Doll, Detroit Lions, Defensive backLos Angeles Memorial Coliseum34,208AC: Paul Brown, Cleveland
NC: Buddy Parker, Detroit
NBC
1953January 17, 1954East 20, West 9Tied, 2–2Chuck Bednarik, Philadelphia Eagles, LinebackerLos Angeles Memorial Coliseum44,214EC: Paul Brown, Cleveland
WC: Buddy Parker, Detroit
DuMont
1954January 16, 1955West 26, East 19West, 3–2Billy Wilson, San Francisco 49ers, EndLos Angeles Memorial Coliseum43,972EC: Jim Trimble, Philadelphia
WC: Buck Shaw, San Francisco
1955January 15, 1956East 31, West 30Tied, 3–3Ollie Matson, Chicago Cardinals, Running backLos Angeles Memorial Coliseum37,867EC: Joe Kuharich, Washington
WC: Sid Gillman, Los Angeles
1956January 13, 1957West 19, East 10West, 4–3Back: Bert Rechichar, Baltimore Colts
Lineman: Ernie Stautner, Pittsburgh Steelers
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum44,177EC: Jim Lee Howell, New York
WC: Paddy Driscoll, Chicago Bears
1957January 12, 1958West 26, East 7West, 5–3Back: Hugh McElhenny, San Francisco 49ers
Lineman: Gene Brito, Washington Redskins
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum66,634EC: Buddy Parker, Pittsburgh
WC: George Wilson, Detroit
NBC
1958January 11, 1959East 28, West 21West, 5–4Back: Frank Gifford, New York Giants
Lineman: Doug Atkins, Chicago Bears
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum72,250EC: Jim Lee Howell, New York
WC: Weeb Ewbank, Baltimore
NBC
1959January 17, 1960West 38, East 21West, 6–4Back: Johnny Unitas, Baltimore Colts
Lineman: Eugene "Big Daddy" Lipscomb, Pittsburgh Steelers
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum56,876EC: Buck Shaw, Philadelphia
WC: Red Hickey, San Francisco
NBC
1960January 15, 1961West 35, East 31West, 7–4Back: Johnny Unitas, Baltimore Colts
Lineman: Sam Huff, New York Giants
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum62,971EC: Buck Shaw, Philadelphia
WC: Vince Lombardi, Green Bay
NBC
1961January 14, 1962West 31, East 30West, 8–4Back: Jim Brown, Cleveland Browns
Lineman: Henry Jordan, Green Bay Packers
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum57,409EC: Allie Sherman, New York
WC: Norm Van Brocklin, Minnesota
NBC
1962January 13, 1963East 30, West 20West, 8–5Back: Jim Brown, Cleveland Browns
Lineman: Eugene Lipscomb, Pittsburgh Steelers
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum61,374EC: Allie Sherman, New York
WC: Vince Lombardi, Green Bay
NBC
1963January 12, 1964West 31, East 17West, 9–5Back: Johnny Unitas, Baltimore Colts
Lineman: Gino Marchetti, Baltimore Colts
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum67,242EC: Allie Sherman, New York
WC: George Halas, Chicago
NBC
1964January 10, 1965West 34, East 14West, 10–5Back: Fran Tarkenton, Minnesota Vikings
Lineman: Terry Barr, Detroit Lions
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum60,598EC: Blanton Collier, Cleveland
WC: Don Shula, Baltimore
NBC
1965January 15, 1966East 36, West 7West, 10–6Back: Jim Brown, Cleveland Browns
Lineman: Dale Meinert, St. Louis Cardinals
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum60,124EC: Blanton Collier, Cleveland
WC: Vince Lombardi, Green Bay
CBS
1966January 22, 1967East 20, West 10West, 10–7Back: Gale Sayers, Chicago Bears
Lineman: Floyd Peters, Philadelphia Eagles
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum15,062EC: Tom Landry, Dallas
WC: George Allen, Los Angeles
CBS
1967January 21, 1968West 38, East 20West, 11–7Back: Gale Sayers, Chicago Bears
Lineman: Dave Robinson, Green Bay Packers
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum53,289EC:Otto Graham, Washington
WC: Don Shula, Baltimore
CBS
1968January 19, 1969West 10, East 7West, 12–7Back: Roman Gabriel, Los Angeles Rams
Lineman: Merlin Olsen, Los Angeles Rams
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum32,050EC: Tom Landry, Dallas
WC: George Allen, Los Angeles
CBS
1969January 18, 1970West 16, East 13West, 13–7Back: Gale Sayers, Chicago Bears
Lineman: George Andrie, Dallas Cowboys
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum57,786EC: Tom Fears, New Orleans
WC: Norm Van Brocklin, Atlanta
CBS

AFC–NFC Pro Bowls (1970–2012)

SeasonDateScoreSeriesMost Valuable Player(s)VenueAttendanceHead coachesNetwork
1970January 24, 1971NFC, 27–6NFC, 1–0Lineman: Fred Carr, Packers
Back: Mel Renfro, Cowboys
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum48,222AFC: John Madden, Oakland
NFC: Dick Nolan, San Francisco
CBS
1971January 23, 1972AFC, 26–13Tied, 1–1Defense: Willie Lanier, Chiefs
Offense: Jan Stenerud, Chiefs
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum53,647AFC: Don McCafferty, Baltimore
NFC: Dick Nolan, San Francisco
NBC
1972January 21, 1973AFC, 33–28AFC, 2–1O.J. Simpson, Bills, Running backTexas Stadium37,091AFC: Chuck Noll, Pittsburgh
NFC: Tom Landry, Dallas
CBS
1973January 20, 1974AFC, 15–13AFC, 3–1Garo Yepremian, Dolphins, PlacekickerArrowhead Stadium66,918AFC: John Madden, Oakland
NFC: Tom Landry, Dallas
NBC
1974January 20, 1975[33]NFC, 17–10AFC, 3–2James Harris, Rams, QuarterbackMiami Orange Bowl26,484AFC: John Madden, Oakland
NFC: Chuck Knox, Los Angeles
ABC
1975January 26, 1976[33]NFC, 23–20Tied, 3–3Billy Johnson, Oilers, Kick returnerLouisiana Superdome30,546AFC: John Madden, Oakland
NFC: Chuck Knox, Los Angeles
ABC
1976January 17, 1977[33]AFC, 24–14AFC, 4–3Mel Blount, Steelers, CornerbackThe Kingdome64,752AFC: Chuck Noll, Pittsburgh
NFC: Chuck Knox, Los Angeles
ABC
1977January 23, 1978[33]NFC, 14–13Tied, 4–4Walter Payton, Bears, Running backTampa Stadium51,337AFC: Ted Marchibroda, Baltimore
NFC: Chuck Knox, Los Angeles
ABC
1978January 29, 1979[33]NFC, 13–7NFC, 5–4Ahmad Rashād, Vikings, Wide receiverLos Angeles Memorial Coliseum46,281AFC: Chuck Fairbanks, New England
NFC: Bud Grant, Minnesota
ABC
1979January 27, 1980NFC, 37–27NFC, 6–4Chuck Muncie, Saints, Running backAloha Stadium49,800AFC: Don Coryell, San Diego
NFC: Tom Landry, Dallas
ABC
1980February 1, 1981NFC, 21–7NFC, 7–4Eddie Murray, Lions, PlacekickerAloha Stadium50,360AFC: Sam Rutigliano, Cleveland
NFC: Leeman Bennett, Atlanta
ABC
1981January 31, 1982AFC, 16–13NFC, 7–5Lee Roy Selmon, Buccaneers, Defensive end
Kellen Winslow, Chargers, Tight end
Aloha Stadium50,402AFC: Don Shula, Miami
NFC: John McKay, Tampa Bay
ABC
1982February 6, 1983NFC, 20–19NFC, 8–5Dan Fouts, Chargers, Quarterback
John Jefferson, Packers, Wide receiver
Aloha Stadium49,883AFC: Walt Michaels, New York Jets
NFC: Tom Landry, Dallas
ABC
1983January 29, 1984NFC, 45–3NFC, 9–5Joe Theismann, Redskins, QuarterbackAloha Stadium50,445AFC: Chuck Knox, Seattle
NFC: Bill Walsh, San Francisco
ABC
1984January 27, 1985AFC, 22–14NFC, 9–6Mark Gastineau, Jets, Defensive endAloha Stadium50,385AFC: Chuck Noll, Pittsburgh
NFC: Mike Ditka, Chicago
ABC
1985February 2, 1986NFC, 28–24NFC, 10–6Phil Simms, Giants, QuarterbackAloha Stadium50,101AFC: Don Shula, Miami
NFC: John Robinson, L.A. Rams
ABC
1986February 1, 1987AFC, 10–6NFC, 10–7Reggie White, Eagles, Defensive endAloha Stadium50,101AFC: Marty Schottenheimer, Cleveland
NFC: Joe Gibbs, Washington
ABC
1987February 7, 1988AFC, 15–6NFC, 10–8Bruce Smith, Bills, Defensive endAloha Stadium50,113AFC: Marty Schottenheimer, Cleveland
NFC: Jerry Burns, Minnesota
ESPN
1988January 29, 1989NFC, 34–3NFC, 11–8Randall Cunningham, Eagles, QuarterbackAloha Stadium50,113AFC: Marv Levy, Buffalo
NFC: Mike Ditka, Chicago
ESPN
1989February 4, 1990NFC, 27–21NFC, 12–8Jerry Gray, Rams, CornerbackAloha Stadium50,445AFC: Bud Carson, Cleveland
NFC: John Robinson, L.A. Rams
ESPN
1990February 3, 1991AFC, 23–21NFC, 12–9Jim Kelly, Bills, QuarterbackAloha Stadium50,345AFC: Art Shell, L.A. Raiders
NFC: George Seifert, San Francisco
ESPN
1991February 2, 1992NFC, 21–15NFC, 13–9Michael Irvin, Cowboys, Wide receiverAloha Stadium50,209AFC: Dan Reeves, Denver
NFC: Wayne Fontes, Detroit
ESPN
1992February 7, 1993AFC, 23–20 (OT)NFC, 13–10Steve Tasker, Bills, Special teamsAloha Stadium50,007AFC: Don Shula, Miami
NFC: George Seifert, San Francisco
ESPN
1993February 6, 1994NFC, 17–3NFC, 14–10Andre Rison, Falcons, Wide receiverAloha Stadium50,026AFC: Marty Schottenheimer, Kansas City
NFC: George Seifert, San Francisco
ESPN
1994February 5, 1995AFC, 41–13NFC, 14–11Marshall Faulk, Colts, Running backAloha Stadium49,121AFC: Bill Cowher, Pittsburgh
NFC: Barry Switzer, Dallas
ABC
1995February 4, 1996NFC, 20–13NFC, 15–11Jerry Rice, 49ers, Wide receiverAloha Stadium50,034AFC: Ted Marchibroda, Indianapolis
NFC: Mike Holmgren, Green Bay
ABC
1996February 2, 1997AFC, 26–23 (OT)NFC, 15–12Mark Brunell, Jaguars, QuarterbackAloha Stadium50,031AFC: Tom Coughlin, Jacksonville
NFC: Dom Capers, Carolina
ABC
1997February 1, 1998AFC, 29–24NFC, 15–13Warren Moon, Seahawks, QuarterbackAloha Stadium49,995AFC: Bill Cowher, Pittsburgh
NFC: Steve Mariucci, San Francisco
ABC
1998February 7, 1999AFC, 23–10NFC, 15–14Keyshawn Johnson, Jets, Wide receiver
Ty Law, Patriots, Cornerback
Aloha Stadium50,075AFC: Bill Belichick,[34] N.Y. Jets
NFC: Dennis Green, Minnesota
ABC
1999February 6, 2000NFC, 51–31NFC, 16–14Randy Moss, Vikings, Wide receiverAloha Stadium50,112AFC: Tom Coughlin, Jacksonville
NFC: Tony Dungy, Tampa Bay
ABC
2000February 4, 2001AFC, 38–17NFC, 16–15Rich Gannon, Raiders, QuarterbackAloha Stadium50,128AFC: Jon Gruden, Oakland
NFC: Dennis Green, Minnesota
ABC
2001February 9, 2002[32]AFC, 38–30Tied, 16–16Rich Gannon, Raiders, QuarterbackAloha Stadium50,301AFC: Bill Cowher, Pittsburgh
NFC: Andy Reid, Philadelphia
ABC
2002February 2, 2003AFC, 45–20AFC, 17–16Ricky Williams, Dolphins, Running backAloha Stadium50,125AFC: Jeff Fisher, Tennessee
NFC: Andy Reid, Philadelphia
ABC
2003February 8, 2004NFC, 55–52Tied, 17–17Marc Bulger, Rams, QuarterbackAloha Stadium50,127AFC: Tony Dungy, Indianapolis
NFC: Andy Reid, Philadelphia
ESPN
2004February 13, 2005AFC, 38–27AFC, 18–17Peyton Manning, Colts, QuarterbackAloha Stadium50,225AFC: Bill Cowher, Pittsburgh
NFC: Jim L. Mora, Atlanta
ESPN
2005February 12, 2006NFC 23–17Tied, 18–18Derrick Brooks, Buccaneers, LinebackerAloha Stadium50,190AFC: Mike Shanahan, Denver
NFC: John Fox, Carolina
ESPN
2006February 10, 2007[32]AFC 31–28AFC, 19–18Carson Palmer, Bengals, QuarterbackAloha Stadium50,410AFC: Bill Belichick, New England
NFC: Sean Payton, New Orleans
CBS
2007February 10, 2008NFC 42–30Tied, 19–19Adrian Peterson, Vikings, Running backAloha Stadium50,044AFC: Norv Turner, San Diego
NFC: Mike McCarthy, Green Bay
Fox
2008February 8, 2009NFC 30–21NFC, 20–19Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals, Wide receiverAloha Stadium49,958AFC: John Harbaugh, Baltimore
NFC: Andy Reid, Philadelphia
NBC
2009January 31, 2010AFC 41–34Tied, 20–20Matt Schaub, Texans, QuarterbackSun Life Stadium70,697AFC: Norv Turner, San Diego
NFC: Wade Phillips, Dallas
ESPN
2010January 30, 2011NFC 55–41NFC, 21–20DeAngelo Hall, Redskins, CornerbackAloha Stadium49,338AFC: Bill Belichick, New England
NFC: Mike Smith, Atlanta
Fox
2011January 29, 2012AFC 59–41Tied, 21–21Brandon Marshall, Dolphins, Wide receiverAloha Stadium48,423AFC: Gary Kubiak, Houston
NFC: Mike McCarthy, Green Bay
NBC
2012January 27, 2013NFC 62–35NFC, 22–21Kyle Rudolph, Vikings, Tight endAloha Stadium47,134AFC: John Fox, Denver
NFC: Mike McCarthy, Green Bay
NBC

Unconferenced Pro Bowls (2013–2015)

SeasonDateScoreMost Valuable Player(s)VenueAttendanceHead coachesNetwork
2013January 26, 2014Team Rice 22,
Team Sanders 21
Offense: Nick Foles, Eagles, Quarterback
Defense: Derrick Johnson, Chiefs, Linebacker
Aloha Stadium47,270Rice: Ron Rivera, Carolina
Sanders: Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis
NBC
2014January 25, 2015Team Irvin 32,
Team Carter 28
Offense: Matthew Stafford, Lions, Quarterback
Defense: J. J. Watt, Texans, Defensive end
University of Phoenix Stadium63,225Irvin: Jason Garrett, Dallas
Carter: John Harbaugh, Baltimore
ESPN
2015January 31, 2016Team Irvin 49,
Team Rice 27
Offense: Russell Wilson, Seahawks, Quarterback
Defense: Michael Bennett, Seahawks, Defensive end
Aloha Stadium50,000Irvin: Winston Moss, Green Bay
Rice: Andy Reid, Kansas City

AFC–NFC Pro Bowls (2016–present)

SeasonDateScoreSeriesMost Valuable Player(s)VenueAttendanceHead coachesNetwork
2016January 29, 2017AFC 20–13Tied, 22–22Offensive: Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs, Tight end
Defensive: Lorenzo Alexander, Buffalo Bills, Linebacker
Camping World Stadium60,834AFC: Andy Reid, Kansas City
NFC: Jason Garrett, Dallas
ESPN
2017January 28, 2018AFC 24–23AFC, 23–22Offensive: Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans, Tight end
Defensive: Von Miller, Denver Broncos, Linebacker
Camping World Stadium51,019AFC: Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh
NFC: Sean Payton, New Orleans
ESPN/ABC
2018January 27, 20190–0AFC, 23–22TBDCamping World StadiumTBDAFC: TBD
NFC: TBD
ESPN/ABC

Stadiums that have hosted the Pro Bowl

Records

Players with most appearances

As of the 2017 Pro Bowl, 28 players have been invited to at least 11 Pro Bowls in their careers.[35] Except for those that are current active or not yet eligible, each of these players have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Four players share the record of having been invited to 14 Pro Bowls, the first being Merlin Olsen, followed by Bruce Matthews, Tony Gonzalez, and Peyton Manning.[36]

Pro
Bowls
Player Pos Seasons by team Selection years Year of induction
into Hall of Fame
14 Tony Gonzalez TE Kansas City Chiefs (19972008)
Atlanta Falcons (20092013)
1999–2008, 2010–2013 Eligible in 2019
14 Peyton Manning QB Indianapolis Colts (19982011)
Denver Broncos (20122015)
1999, 2000, 2002–2010, 2012–2014 Eligible in 2021
14 Bruce Matthews G Houston Oilers / Tennessee Oilers /
Tennessee Titans
(19832001)
1988–2001 2007
14 Merlin Olsen DT Los Angeles Rams (19621976) 1962–1975 1982
13 Tom Brady QB New England Patriots (2000–present) 2001, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009–2017 Active player
13 Ray Lewis LB Baltimore Ravens (19962012) 1997–2001, 2003, 2004, 2006–2011 2018
13 Jerry Rice WR San Francisco 49ers (19852000)
Oakland Raiders (20012004)
Seattle Seahawks (2004)
1986–1996, 1998, 2002 2010
13 Reggie White DE Philadelphia Eagles (19851992)
Green Bay Packers (19931998)
Carolina Panthers (2000)
1986–1998 2006
12 Champ Bailey CB Washington Redskins (19992003)
Denver Broncos (20042013)
2000–2007, 2009–2012 Eligible in 2019
12 Ken Houston S Houston Oilers (19671972)
Washington Redskins (19731980)
1968–1979 1986
12 Randall McDaniel G Minnesota Vikings (19881999)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (20002001)
1989–2000 2009
12 Jim Otto C Oakland Raiders (19601974) 1961–1972 1980
12 Junior Seau LB San Diego Chargers (19902002)
Miami Dolphins (20032005)
New England Patriots (20062009)
1991–2002 2015
12 Will Shields G Kansas City Chiefs (19932006) 1995–2006 2015
11 Larry Allen G Dallas Cowboys (19942005)
San Francisco 49ers (20062007)
1995–2001, 2003–2006 2013
11 Drew Brees QB San Diego Chargers (20012005)
New Orleans Saints (2006–present)
2004, 2006, 2008–2014, 2016, 2017 Active player
11 Derrick Brooks LB Tampa Bay Buccaneers (19952008) 1997–2006, 2008 2014
11 Brett Favre QB Atlanta Falcons (1991)
Green Bay Packers (19922007)
New York Jets (2008)
Minnesota Vikings (20092010)
1992, 1993, 1995–1997, 2001–2003, 2007–2009 2016
11 Larry Fitzgerald WR Arizona Cardinals (2004–present) 2005, 2007–2013, 2015–2017 Active player
11 Bob Lilly DT Dallas Cowboys (19611974) 1962, 1964–1973 1980
11 Tom Mack G Los Angeles Rams (19661978) 1967–1975, 1977, 1978 1999
11 Gino Marchetti DE Dallas Texans (1952)
Baltimore Colts (19531964; 1966)
1954–1964 1972
11 Anthony Muñoz OT Cincinnati Bengals (19801992) 1981–1991 1998
11 Jonathan Ogden OT Baltimore Ravens (19962007) 1997–2007 2013
11 Willie Roaf OT New Orleans Saints (19932001)
Kansas City Chiefs (20022005)
1994–2000, 2002–2005 2012
11 Bruce Smith DE Buffalo Bills (19851999)
Washington Redskins (20002003)
1987–1990, 1992–1998 2009
11 Jason Witten TE Dallas Cowboys (20032017) 2004–2010, 2012–2014, 2017 Eligible in 2023
11 Rod Woodson CB Pittsburgh Steelers (19871996)
San Francisco 49ers (1997)
Baltimore Ravens (19982001)
Oakland Raiders (20022003)
1989–1994, 1996, 1999–2002 2009

Television

  • Under the prior NFL television contract which was in effect through the 2014 Pro Bowl, the network which aired the Super Bowl also aired the Pro Bowl. The 2007 game on CBS was held on the Saturday after Super Bowl XLI because of the 49th Grammy Awards. The 2008 game was on Fox, broadcaster of Super Bowl XLII. Likewise, the 2009 game was on NBC, broadcaster of Super Bowl XLIII. CBS sold off their rights to the 2010 game to ESPN, which was played a week before the Super Bowl at the Super Bowl site, Sun Life Stadium. CBS also declined to broadcast the 2013 game, which was instead shown on NBC. The 2014 game, also shown on NBC, was the final Pro Bowl on network television for four years, as exclusive broadcast rights moved to ESPN in 2015 prior to being simulcast with sister network ABC in 2018.
  • The Pro Bowl was originally broadcast on an alternative basis by CBS and NBC 1971–1974; the other network broadcast the Super Bowl. Later, the game was broadcast as part of the Monday Night Football package on ABC 1975–1987 and again 1995–2003. In 2004–2006, ABC sold its rights to the Pro Bowl to sister network ESPN (who had shown it 1988–1994). In those years, the ESPN Sunday Night Football crew covered the game.
  • In the early 2000s, after suffering through several years of dwindling ratings ABC considered moving the game to Monday night. The idea was scrapped, however, when ABC decided to sell off the rights to sister network ESPN.
  • Throughout his broadcasting career, John Madden declined to be part of the announcing crew when his network carried the Pro Bowl due to his aviatophobia and claustrophobia (a joke referencing both is made in the Madden NFL '97 video game before the beginning of the Pro Bowl in season mode, where Madden quips that he drove his "Madden Bus" to Hawaii, rather than flying). Until Madden's retirement from broadcasting after the 2009 Pro Bowl, it had only occurred twice: former San Diego Chargers quarterback and MNF personality Dan Fouts, whom Madden had replaced, took his place on ABC in 2003, and Cris Collinsworth took his place on NBC in 2009 (Collinsworth ended up replacing Madden permanently upon the latter's retirement).
  • ESPN will hold exclusive rights to the Pro Bowl from 2015 through 2022, although in 2018, the Pro Bowl returned to network television for the first time in four years as part of a joint ABC/ESPN simulcast (both sister networks are owned by The Walt Disney Company).[37]

Most watched Pro Bowls

RankGameDateMatchupNetworkViewers (millions)TV Rating [38]Location
1 2011 Pro Bowl January 29, 2011 AFC 41 NFC 55 Fox 13.4 7.7 Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, HI
2 2000 Pro Bowl February 6, 2000 AFC 31 NFC 51 ABC 13.2 8.6 Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, HI
3 2012 Pro Bowl January 29, 2012 NFC 41 AFC 59 NBC 12.5 7.3 Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, HI
4 2010 Pro Bowl January 31, 2010 AFC 41 NFC 34 ESPN 12.3 7.1 Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL
5 2013 Pro Bowl January 27, 2013 AFC 35 NFC 62 NBC 12.2 7.1 Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, HI
6 2014 Pro Bowl January 26, 2014 Team Rice 22 Team Sanders 21 11.4 6.6 Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, HI
7 2008 Pro Bowl February 10, 2008 AFC 30 NFC 42 Fox 10.0 6.3 Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, HI
8 2003 Pro Bowl February 2, 2003 NFC 23 AFC 45 ABC 9.1 5.9 Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, HI
9 2009 Pro Bowl February 8, 2009 NFC 30 AFC 21 NBC 8.8 5.4 Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, HI
10 2015 Pro Bowl January 25, 2015 Team Irvin 32 Team Carter 28 ESPN 8.8 5.1 University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ

Blackout policy

The Pro Bowl is still subject to the NFL's blackout policies, requiring the game to be blacked out within 75 miles (121 km) of the stadium site if the game does not sell out all of the stadium's seats.[39][40]

Criticism

Quality

For decades, the Pro Bowl has been criticized as a glamour event more than a football game. This is due to two causes: the voluntary nature of the game, and the fear of player injury.

While players are financially compensated for participating in the Pro Bowl, for a star player, the pay can be less than 1% of their salary. Many star players have excused themselves from participation over the years, meaning that the very best players are not necessarily featured. Not having the best players in the Pro Bowl was exacerbated by the introduction of fan voting (see section below).

Another criticism of the game is that the players—particularly on defense—are not playing "full speed". This is because player injury plays a much greater part in a team's success in the NFL as compared to the other major American sports. For this reason, unlike the NBA, NHL, and MLB (which host their all-star events as a mid-season break), the Pro Bowl was historically held after the completion of the season and playoffs. This means that a player injured in the Pro Bowl would have at least six months to rehab before the next season begins. However, starting in 2010, the Pro Bowl was moved from the week after the Super Bowl to the week before the Super Bowl. Because of the above-noted fear of injury, players from the two teams participating in the Super Bowl were banned from participation, meaning that the absence of star players was only increased.

With the dearth of stars making the game the subject of much derision (Sports Illustrated website refused to even include one pre-game story on the event in 2012), the players on the field appear to be taking it less seriously as well. In the 2012 game, the lack of defensive effort was apparent, not only to anyone watching, but to anyone who saw the score of 100 points. One NFL player watching the game said, "They probably should have just put flags on them,"[41] indicating that the quality was about on the level of flag football. Commissioner Roger Goodell stated that the game needed to improve, otherwise it would be eliminated.[42][43] It is worth noting that entire teams have declined to participate after losing the conference championship, like the 2015 New England Patriots, which had seven starters on the Pro Bowl roster. This, among other factors, caused the 2016 Pro Bowl to be more of a game featuring emerging players, with a record of 133 players selected overall (including those who were absent), and ended up including rookie quarterback Jameis Winston instead of recognized veterans Tom Brady and Carson Palmer, who were both in the conversation for the 2015 NFL season MVP before losing in their respective conference finals.[44]

Selection process

Fan voting has increased criticism of the Pro Bowl. Voting by fans makes up 1/3 of the vote for Pro Bowl players. Some teams earn more selections of their players because fans often vote for their favorite team and not necessarily the best player. In the 2008 Pro Bowl, the Dallas Cowboys had thirteen players on the NFC roster, an NFL record. "If you're in a small market, no one really gets to see you play", said Minnesota Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield, who spent much of his early career with the small-market Buffalo Bills. "If you're a quiet guy, it's hard to get the attention. You just have to work hard and play." Winfield made the Pro Bowl in 2008 after ten seasons of being shut out.[45]

The player voting has also been subject to significant criticism. It is not uncommon for players to pick the same players over and over again; former offensive lineman (and Sports Illustrated analyst) Ross Tucker has cited politics, incumbency, personal vendettas, and compensation for injury in previous years as primary factors in players' choices. Thus, players who have seen their play decline with age can still be perennially elected to the Pro Bowl due to their popularity among other players, something particularly common among positions such as the offensive line, where few statistics are available.[46] For example, in 2010, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs admitted voting for Ryan Fitzpatrick (then the backup quarterback of the Buffalo Bills) over eventual league most valuable player Tom Brady not because he thought Fitzpatrick was the better player but as a vote of disrespect toward Brady's team, the New England Patriots.[47]

Some players have had a surprisingly small number of Pro Bowl selections despite distinguished careers. Hall of Fame running back John Riggins was selected only once in his career from 1971 to 1985. He was not selected in the year after which he set the record for rushing touchdowns in a season and his team made it to the Super Bowl (although he did make the All-Pro team). Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Nitschke only made the Pro Bowl once, despite being named All-Pro seven times and being the MVP of the 1962 NFL Championship Game. Defensive back Ken Riley never made the Pro Bowl in his 15 seasons, even though he recorded 65 interceptions, the fourth-highest total in NFL history at the time of his retirement. Former Jacksonville Jaguars halfback Fred Taylor, who is 15th in all-time rushing yards, was elected to his only Pro Bowl in 2007, despite averaging 4.6 yards per carry for his career, better than all but five running backs ranked in the top 30 in all-time rushing. Aaron Smith made it to the Pro Bowl once in 13 years (2004) despite winning two Super Bowl rings with the Pittsburgh Steelers and being named to the Sports Illustrated 2000s All Decade Team, despite defensive teammates such as Troy Polamalu, Casey Hampton, and James Harrison being named to multiple Pro Bowls during his career; Smith would often be ranked as one of the NFL's most underrated players during his career.[48]

Long snappers are picked by the coaches and not voted on at all. They are not allowed to play on their own coach's team.

See also

References

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  2. "Goodell: Pro Bowl may not continue in current format". NFL.com. Retrieved 2016-02-06.
  3. Fletcher, Dan (January 29, 2010). "Is the NFL Pro Bowl Broken?". Time. Retrieved January 31, 2011. While the Pro Bowl managed to sell out Dolphins Stadium, the game usually pulls down mediocre TV ratings; it's the only major all-star game that draws lower ratings than regular-season matchups.
  4. Finn, Chad (February 1, 2013). "Pro Bowl may be mocked, but it's popular". Boston Globe. Retrieved October 21, 2013.
  5. "NFC reels in five picks to throttle AFC in Pro Bowl". ESPN.com. Associated Press. January 30, 2011. Retrieved January 31, 2011. The NFC's 55-41 victory, a game not nearly as interesting as that score would indicate, did nothing to repair the tattered image of the NFL's all-star contest.
  6. "Brandon Marshall catches Pro Bowl-record 4 TDs in AFC's win". ESPN.com. Associated Press. January 30, 2012. Archived from the original on January 30, 2012.
  7. Schottey, Michael (June 2, 2016). "NFL Pro Bowl's Move to Orlando Provides Chance to Reinvigorate the Event". Forbes.
  8. Orr, Conor (June 1, 2016). "Orlando Pro Bowl returning to AFC-NFC format in 2017". NFL. National Football League.
  9. Crawford, Fred R. (1990). "The First Pro Bowl Game" (PDF). The Coffin Corner. 12 (4). Archived from the original (PDF) on January 31, 2012. Retrieved January 31, 2012.
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  13. Players defend Pro Bowl after 62-35 NFC win Archived 2013-02-16 at Archive.is. Associated Press. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
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  15. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-04-09. Retrieved 2014-04-09.
  16. "2015 Pro Bowl To Be Played in Arizona, 2016 Pro Bowl Slated for Hawaii". National Football League. April 9, 2014. Archived from the original on April 9, 2014. Retrieved April 9, 2014.
  17. Marvez, Alex (March 23, 2015). "NFL considering Brazil to host 2017 Pro Bowl". Fox Sports. Retrieved March 23, 2015.
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  24. "All-Time Results". 2011 NFL Pro Bowl Official Game Program. NFL Publishing: 191–92. 2011. Archived from the original on January 22, 2011. Retrieved February 2, 2011.
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  32. 1 2 3 4 Saturday game
  33. 1 2 3 4 5 Monday night game
  34. Filled in for then-Jets head coach Bill Parcells
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  48. "Pittsburgh Steelers: All-time underrated, overrated players".
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