AFC 38-33 NFC
The NFL’s All Star game- The Pro Bowl was played at Camping World Stadium in Orlando on Sunday January 26.
For the whole week leading up the game, there are fun mini, drill like positional competitions (something that Madden fan would recognise) and I’m sure these are as much for the players as they are the fans.
The Pro Bowl game itself, is an exhibition game played at the end of the NFL season, which pits the best of the AFC players against the best of the NFC players. Players are voted to represent the AFC/NFC by coaches, players and a third of the vote is from fans via on line polls.
In 1979, the game was moved to Aloha stadium in Hawaii, one of the 26 U.S States that does not have a Pro NFL Team. Although many mainland NFL fans did not travel to this event, the local people of Hawaii welcomed the game (and the whole week long NFL fun activities leading up to the game), but it was the players that certainly enjoyed making the trip…a free trip to paradise and play some ball.-what player wouldn’t be up for that? Though now the game has been moved to Orlando, which granted is nice, but it’s not quite Hawaii is it?
In 2009 the league decided to have the Pro Bowl be played the week before the Super Bowl. I totally get that, but it does mean that for the Super Bowl bound players who are voted into the Pro Bowl, they can not enjoy the Pro Bowl activities because they are in the Super Bowl the week later, so they will be with the teams that week. I’m sure the NFL athletes would rather be in the Super Bowl than the Pro Bowl though.
Young players are especially keen to play in the Pro Bowl, it builds up their global brand, and with NFL careers lasting an average of four seasons, young players grab every opportunity to make a name for themselves, plus they get an all expenses paid trip (now to Orlando) and each player from the winning teams gets £67,000 while the losing players get half that. Still $37,000 is not to be sniffed at for a young player without a massive contract. The MVP also gets a healthy bonus too. However some veterans may decline the Pro Bowl week, either to rest their bodies or because they have been many times before.
I do think players do care about the Pro Bowl, or at least to be invited there. When it comes to the Pro Football Hall of Fame eligibility- players are judged by game statistics, Super Bowl wins and by how many Pro Bowls they had been invited to (not actually played in). Every NFL player that has been picked for the Pro Bowl ten or more times has gone on to Hall of Fame.
This year’s league MVP, Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens did not make it to the Superbowl, so he started for the AFC on this all star game. He carried his electric form from the regular season into this game and led the AFC team to a 38-33 win over the NFC. He was also named offensive MVP, meanwhile the Jacksonville Jaguar’s defensive end, Calais Campbell was voted as the game’s defensive MVP.
Jackson was playing along side twelve of his Ravens team mates. The thirteen picked Ravens Pro Bowlers is the most ever from one team. Though the real star of the show was the cheeky Manchester based interviewer; ten year old Brandon Bent who managed to have an all access media pass for the whole week and watching him interview a host of NFL stars was simply fantastic.
The game is also a platform to try out new rules. In this game, onside kicks were removed, (in 2013 the league removed kick offs completely in the Pro Bowl). Instead of an onside kick, the team that just scored can decide to give the ball back to their opponents on their 25 yard line, or they can keep the ball but they will start their drive on their own 25 yard line in a 4th down and 15 situation. With the league worried about player safety during kick offs, I can see the league keeping this rule in regular season games in the future.
Written by Adam Goldstein @TailgateKnight