The NFL will hold the Pro Bowl Sunday, featuring the best players of the AFC and the NFC. Since the 2009 season, the NFL has tried a different approach with the Pro Bowl. Previously, the game was played the week following the Super Bowl, but in 2009 the NFL made the Pro Bowl the week before the Super Bowl. This causes players of teams in the Super Bowl to not attend.
This year, the AFC will miss out on a lot of offensive starters. Five New England Patriots offensive starters – Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Wes Welker, Logan Mankins and Brian Waters – were selected. Two New England defensive players — Andre Carter and Vince Wilfork, along with special teams standout Matthew Slater – were also set for Honolulu. The NFC will only miss out on two players from the Giants, Eli Manning and Jason Pierre-Paul.
With the absences of both Brady and Manning, the Pro Bowl will feature the Panthers’ Cam Newton and the Bengals’ Andy Dalton. For the first time in NFL history, two rookie quarterbacks will participate. Newton impressed everybody with his record-breaking season. He scored 35 total touchdowns (21 passing, 14 rushing) this season and became the first rookie to throw for over 4,000 passing yards.
Dalton also surprised many by leading the Bengals to the playoffs. Before the season, the Bengals were expected to a be a sub-.500 team, but the great play of Dalton and fellow Pro Bowl receiver and teammate A.J. Green lifted Cincinnati to the playoffs. Green had a great season of his own as he led rookies in receptions and receiving yards in 2011.
The Houston Texans’ Gary Kubiak and the Green Bay Packers’ Mike McCarthy will coach the AFC and NFC rosters, respectively. McCarthy will have his starting quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, starting for the NFC. The Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans and St. Louis Rams are the only teams without any player representing them in the Pro Bowl.
While the Pro Bowl is usually a joke of a game, it’s still enjoyable to the players. They get to spend a week in Hawaii among some of the best that the NFL has to offer and there’s a cash reward, win or lose, for players involved.