The NFL-leading Philadelphia Eagles had a league-best eight players, including quarterback Jalen Hurts, selected for the first Pro Bowl Games.
The league announced rosters for the NFC and AFC on Wednesday. Players from both conferences will compete in week-long skills competitions culminated with a flag football game on Sunday, Feb. 5, at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. The NFL eliminated its full-contact all-star game in September.
Kansas City and Dallas each had seven players chosen for the Games. San Francisco and Baltimore are next with six. Only two teams – Jacksonville and Chicago – aren’t represented on the initial rosters.
Joining Hurts from the Eagles (13-1) are wide receiver A.J. Brown, running back Miles Sanders, right tackle Lane Johnson, centre Jason Kelce, left guard Landon Dickerson, linebacker Haason Reddick and cornerback Darius Slay. Hurts, Sanders, Dickerson and Reddick are first-timers. It’s Kelce’s sixth, Slay’s fifth and Johnson’s fourth. Sanders and Reddick were selected as backups.
Patrick Mahomes is the AFC’s starting quarterback. Josh Allen and Joe Burrow are his backups. Kirk Cousins and Geno Smith are backing up Hurts.
Smith is a first-time pick in his 10th season in the NFL. He’s the first quarterback since Rich Gannon (1999) to earn his first Pro Bowl selection in Year 10 or later of his career.
Trent Williams, the 49ers’ left tackle, was chosen for the 10th time. Aaron Donald became the first defensive lineman to make the Pro Bowl in each of his first nine seasons. He’s the only representative from the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams (4-10).
Miami’s Tyreek Hill was selected to his seventh consecutive Pro Bowl, joining A.J. Green as the only wide receivers to earn Pro Bowl honours in each of their first seven seasons.
Twenty-five of the 88 players selected are first-timers, including rookie cornerbacks Sauce Gardner of the New York Jets and Tariq Woolen of the Seattle Seahawks. It’s the second time two rookie cornerbacks made the initial Pro Bowl roster. The first occurred in 1982 when Pro Football Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott and Everson Walls made it.
Saquon Barkley is the NFC’s starting running back. Sanders and Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard are the backups. Nick Chubb is the AFC’s starting running back. Derrick Henry and Josh Jacobs back him up.
The NFC’s starting wideouts are Brown and Justin Jefferson. CeeDee Lamb and Terry McLaurin also made the squad. The AFC’s starting receivers are Hill and Stefon Diggs.
Davante Adams and Ja’Marr Chase also made the roster.
George Kittle starts at tight end for the NFC and T.J. Hockenson made the team after a midseason trade from Detroit to Minnesota.
AFC starting tight end Travis Kelce made the team for the eighth time. Mark Andrews backs him up.
The roster selections were determined by the consensus votes of fans, players and coaches.
Each group’s vote counted one-third toward determining the teams. The NFL is the only sports league that combines voting by fans, coaches and players to determine its all-stars. It was also the first professional sports league to offer online all-star voting in 1995.
Peyton Manning will coach the AFC team while Eli Manning guides the NFC. Ray Lewis serves as the defensive co-ordinator for the AFC. DeMarcus Ware handles the role for the NFC.
International Flag football stars Vanita Krouch and Diana Flores were named as offensive co-ordinators.
The AFC and NFC will start off with five skills competitions on Feb. 2. On Sunday, there will be three flag football games and three additional skills competitions between the two conferences.
The winner of each skills competition earns three points for his conference. There are eight total skills competitions worth a total of 24 available points.
The winner of each of the first two flag games earns six points for his conference. The first two flag games are worth a total of 12 available points.
Points from the eight skills competitions and first two flag games are added together and that will be the score at the beginning of the third and final flag game. The third flag game will determine the overall winner of the Pro Bowl Games.
The flag games will feature a traditional AFC vs. NFC matchup with 27 skill position players available from the full roster for each conference.
Each team will also have one centre available on their roster. The game will be played 7 on 7.
Each game will be 20 minutes in length, with two, 10-minute halves on a 50-yard field with two 10-yard end zones.
Touchdowns are worth six points. There are two different options for post-touchdown conversions: 1-point conversion from the 3-yard line and 2-point conversion from the 10-yard line. Safeties and returned 1- or 2-point conversion attempts are worth 2 points.