The Pro Bowl is the National Football League's annual postseason all-star game, pitting players from the American Football Conference against those from the National Football Conference. While the game has roots dating back to various postseason games in the 1930s and 1940s, the Pro Bowl as a matchup between opposing conferences has been played each year since the 1950 NFL season. Players are selected for the game based on a combination of voting from league coaches, players and fans.
Traditionally played at Aloha Stadium in Hawaii the week after the Super Bowl, the game was moved to Miami for the January 2010 game (site of that year's Super Bowl) and played the week before the Super Bowl. In 2011, the Pro Bowl was moved back to Aloha Stadium but still took place before the Super Bowl.
The origins of the NFL Pro Bowl date back to January 1939, when a postseason all-star game was contested between the newly crowned league champions (the New York Giants) and a team of NFL all-stars after the 1938 NFL season. Following that game -- won 13-10 by the Giants at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles -- the format of NFL champion versus an all-star team remained in place for the postseason game through the 1942 season, after which the annual contest was discontinued.
The postseason all-star game was revived by the NFL for the 1950 season, but rather than including the league champion, the newly named Pro Bowl pitted teams of players from the American Conference against those from the National Conference. Cleveland Browns quarterback Otto Graham scored two touchdowns in the third quarter of that initial Pro Bowl, leading the American Conference to a 28-27 win over the National side on Jan. 14, 1951, at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
The National Conference captured the next two Pro Bowl contests before the game became a matchup between players from the Eastern and Western Conferences after the 1953 season (when the NFL changed the names of its two conferences). League stars Johnny Unitas, Jim Brown and Gale Sayers each earned multiple MVP honors for their Pro Bowl performances in games played during the 1960s.
When the NFL merged with the American Football League for the 1970 season, the name of the all-star game was officially changed to the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl, as it would again be played between all-stars from the American and National conferences within the new league setup and take place a week after the Super Bowl. Among other guidelines established for the game following the merger, the Pro Bowl teams would be helmed by each of the losing coaches in their respective conference championship games.
Having served as host for each of the Pro Bowls since 1951, the Los Angeles Coliseum was also the site of the first two Pro Bowls following the merger. But after the 1972 edition, the annual game was held at various stadiums before moving to Hawaii's Aloha Stadium in 1980. Proposed as a long-term change, the move to Honolulu proved popular with league players and helped ensure that all-stars selected for the game would not mind extending their playing seasons if the game involved a trip to Hawaii in midwinter.
The NFC team won four of the first five Pro Bowl games played at Aloha Stadium, which would go on to host the annual all-star game for 30 consecutive years (through 2009). While offensive stars such as Jim Kelly, Jerry Rice and Peyton Manning each garnered Pro Bowl MVP honors during that period, defensive stalwarts Reggie White, Bruce Smith and Derrick Brooks also claimed the award for helping their conference side to victory in NFL all-star games in Hawaii.
In 1995, the selection process for Pro Bowl performers changed, as voting among fans was added to the determining factors. Before that season, only coaches and players combined to select the players invited to the all-star contest. Beginning in 1995, players have been voted into the Pro Bowl by coaches, the players themselves and fans -- with each group's tallies counting for one-third of the votes.
Another change for the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl came in 2010, when the NFL decided to move the game to the week before the Super Bowl and have it played at the same site of that year's Super Bowl. At Sun Life Stadium in Miami, the AFC team topped the NFC 41-34 to even the overall conference record in Pro Bowl games played since the merger in 1970 at 20 wins apiece.
The NFL moved the annual game back to Aloha Stadium in Hawaii for the 2011 edition, but kept it scheduled one week before the Super Bowl. The NFC won, 55-41, after roaring out to a 42-7 halftime lead. Adrian Peterson, Steven Jackson and Ovie Mughelli each ran for a touchdown, and the NFC defense recorded five interceptions, two returned for scores. Washington Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall was named MVP after recording six tackles and a pick-six. The AFC evened the score again in 2012, riding four Brandon Marshall touchdowns to a 59-41 victory.
Aloha Stadium is an outdoor football and multipurpose arena located in Honolulu. Home to the University of Hawaii's football team and the state's largest outdoor arena, Aloha Stadium has hosted the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl since 2002 and has been the site for the NFL's Pro Bowl 30 times.
Opened in 1975, Aloha Stadium is owned by the state of Hawaii and managed by the Stadium Authority, State of Hawaii. Improvements to the facility over the years have included replacement of the field's artificial turf as well as an increase to its seating capacity, which is currently estimated at 50,000. The stadium's construction allows for a number of movable sections to create various seating configurations to accommodate other sporting and entertainment events.
Besides being home to the University of Hawaii football team, Aloha Stadium was home field for the Hawaii Islanders of baseball's Pacific Coast League in the 1970s and in 1997 hosted a three-game, regular-season series between the St. Louis Cardinals and San Diego Padres of Major League Baseball. The stadium has been the site of many musical concerts over the years and also hosted the inaugural Pan-Pacific Soccer Championship in 2008.
Year-by-Year Pro Bowl Results
|2012||AFC||NFC||59-41||Brandon Marshall, MIA|
|2011||NFC||AFC||55-41||DeAngelo Hall, WAS|
|2010||AFC||NFC||41-34||Matt Schaub, HOU|
|2009||NFC||AFC||30-21||Larry Fitzgerald, ARI|
|2008||NFC||AFC||42-30||Adrian Peterson, MIN|
|2007||AFC||NFC||31-28||Carson Palmer, CIN|
|2006||NFC||AFC||23-17||Derrick Brooks, TB|
|2005||AFC||NFC||38-27||Peyton Manning, IND|
|2004||NFC||AFC||55-52||Marc Bulger, STL|
|2003||AFC||NFC||45-20||Ricky Williams, MIA|
|2002||AFC||NFC||38-30||Rich Gannon, OAK|
|2001||AFC||NFC||38-17||Rich Gannon, OAK|
|2000||NFC||AFC||51-31||Randy Moss, MIN|
|1999||AFC||NFC||23-10||Keyshawn Johnson, NYJ
Ty Law, NE
|1998||AFC||NFC||29-24||Warren Moon, SEA|
|1997||AFC||NFC||26-23||Mark Brunell, JAC|
|1996||NFC||AFC||20-13||Jerry Rice, SF|
|1995||AFC||NFC||41-13||Marshall Faulk, IND|
|1994||NFC||AFC||14-10||Andre Rison, ATL|
|1993||AFC||NFC||23-20||Steve Tasker, BUF|
|1992||NFC||AFC||21-15||Michael Irvin, DAL|
|1991||AFC||NFC||23-21||Jim Kelly, BUF|
|1990||NFC||AFC||27-21||Jerry Gray, STL|
|1989||NFC||AFC||34-3||Randall Cunningham, PHI|
|1988||AFC||NFC||15-6||Bruce Smith, BUF|
|1987||AFC||NFC||10-6||Reggie White, PHI|
|1986||NFC||AFC||28-24||Phil Simms, NYG|
|1985||AFC||NFC||22-14||Mark Gastineau, NYJ|
|1984||NFC||AFC||45-3||Joe Theismann, WSH|
|1983||NFC||AFC||20-19||Dan Fouts, SD
John Jefferson, GB
|1982||AFC||NFC||16-13||Lee Roy Selmon, TB
Kellen Winslow, SD
|1981||NFC||AFC||21-7||Eddie Murray, DET|
|1980||NFC||AFC||37-27||Chuck Muncie, NO|
|1979||NFC||AFC||13-7||Ahmad Rashad, MIN|
|1978||NFC||AFC||14-13||Walter Payton, CHI|
|1977||AFC||NFC||24-14||Mel Blount, PIT|
|1976||NFC||AFC||23-20||Billy Johnson, HOU|
|1975||NFC||AFC||17-10||James Harris, LAR|
|1974||AFC||NFC||15-13||Garo Yepremian, MIA|
|1973||AFC||NFC||33-28||O.J. Simpson, BUF|
|1972||AFC||NFC||26-13||Willie Lanier, KC
Jan Stenerud, KC
|1971||NFC||AFC||27-6||Fred Carr, GB
Mel Renfro, DAL
|1970||West||East||16-13||Gale Sayers, CHI
George Andrie, DAL
|1969||West||East||10-7||Roman Gabriel, LAR
Merlin Olsen, LAR
|1968||West||East||38-20||Gale Sayers, CHI
Dave Robinson, GB
|1967||East||West||20-10||Gale Sayers, CHI
Floyd Peters, PHI
|1966||East||West||36-7||Jim Brown, CLE
Dale Meinert, STL
|1965||West||East||34-14||Fran Tarkenton, MIN
Terry Barr, DET
|1964||West||East||31-17||Johnny Unitas, BAL
Gino Marchetti, BAL
|1963||East||West||30-20||Eugene Lipscomb, PIT|
|1962||West||East||31-30||Jim Brown, CLE
Henry Jordan, GB
|1961||West||East||35-31||Johnny Unitas, BAL
Sam Huff, NYG
|1960||West||East||38-21||Johnny Unitas, BAL
Eugene Lipscomb, PIT
|1959||East||West||28-21||Frank Gifford, NYG
Doug Atkins, CHI
|1958||West||East||26-7||Hugh McElhenny, SF
Gene Brito, WSH
|1957||West||East||19-10||Bert Rechichar, BAL
Ernie Stautner, PIT
|1956||East||West||31-30||Ollie Matson, CHC|
|1955||West||East||26-19||Billy Wilson, SF|
|1954||East||West||20-9||Chuck Bednarik, PHI|
|1953||National||American||27-7||Don Doll, DET|
|1952||National||American||30-13||Dan Towler, LAR|
|1951||American||National||28-27||Otto Graham, CLE|
Jan. 27, 2013, 7 ET
Stadium: Aloha Stadium
First played: 1951
2012 winner: AFC
2012 MVP: Brandon Marshall, MIA
PRO BOWL VENUES
|1980-2009, 2011-13||Aloha Stadium||Honolulu|
|2010||Sun Life Stadium||Miami|
|1951-72, 1979||L.A. Memorial Coliseum||Los Angeles|
|1978||Tampa Stadium||Tampa, FL|
|1976||Louisiana Superdome||New Orleans|
|1974||Arrowhead Stadium||Kansas City, Mo.|
|1973||Texas Stadium||Irving, Texas|
PRO BOWL RULES MODIFICATIONS
The Pro Bowl is played with standard NFL rules, with some modifications to account for player safety and limited practice time.