If you were to gather a group of NFL fans to talk about the Pro Bowl — difficult a task as that may be — you’ll find quite a few who believe the league should simply announce the rosters and scrap the idea of actually playing what has become the worst all-star game among the major American sports.
As football-mad as this country is, nobody seems to be going crazy over the Pro Bowl. And with good reason.
A salary bonus and recognition among peers are the biggest perks a player gets out of being voted to the Pro Bowl. As for the game itself, beyond the free trip to Hawaii, it means nothing. And it comes at the end of a grueling season of games that did mean something, which leads to several players declining the invitation due to injuries, fatigue, or the fact that their team is preparing for the Super Bowl. Those who accept often play the game at noticeably less than full speed or intensity.
Despite the visible apathy from players and fans, the NFL still insists on playing the Pro Bowl — adding a new wrinkle or rule change seemingly every year to generate more interest.
The 2016 Pro Bowl, scheduled for Jan. 31, will mark Year 2 of the Pro Bowl Draft era. Instead of the traditional AFC vs. NFC format, now there is a general pool of Pro Bowlers that are drafted onto two teams. This year’s Pro Bowl squads were chosen by a pair of Hall of Fame receivers, Jerry Rice and Michael Irvin.
The first overall pick went to Irvin, who chose Seahawks QB Russell Wilson. Two rounds later, Irvin made Wilson’s teammate Richard Sherman the first defensive back to come off the board. In his fifth pro season, Sherman had 50 tackles, two interceptions and 14 pass breakups. The marquee name of the “Legion of Boom” secondary helped the Seahawks to their fourth straight playoff appearance, where the two-time defending NFC champions fell in the divisional round to the Panthers.
Rice took his first DB in the sixth round when he chose Chiefs rookie cornerback Marcus Peters. The odds-on favorite to win the league’s Defensive Rookie of the Year Award, Peters had 60 tackles, eight interceptions, 26 pass breakups and two pick-sixes in his first year out of the University of Washington. He helped the Chiefs make the playoffs, where they lost in the divisional round to the Patriots.
Here’s how the secondaries of each Pro Bowl team looked following the draft:
CB – Marcus Peters (Chiefs)
CB – Vontae Davis (Colts)
S – Mike Adams (Colts)
S – Eric Berry (Chiefs)
CB- Brent Grimes (Dolphins)
CB – Jason Verrett (Chargers)
S – Charles Woodson (Raiders)
CB – Richard Sherman (Seahawks)
CB – Desmond Trufant (Falcons)
S – Reshad Jones (Dolphins)
S – Malcolm Jenkins (Eagles)
CB – Adam Jones (Bengals)
CB – Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Giants)
S – Harrison Smith (Vikings>
Fourth-year Cardinals cornerback Justin Bethel was also voted to the Pro Bowl as a special teams player. He was drafted onto Team Irvin.