While the rest of America shovels snow and shivers, there's still football going on. What's wrong with this picture?
For football fans, it's paridise.
The NFLâ€™s best will be in the spotlight on Sunday, January 27 at 7 p.m. Eastern on NBC as the 2013 Pro Bowl kicks off Super Bowl Week.
The NFL All-Star Game will take place once again at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii and will be the signature event to start the week leading up to Super Bowl XLVII between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers in New Orleans on Sunday, February 3 on CBS.
â€œItâ€™s a tremendous honor and I am very humbled to receive this recognition,â€ says Denver quarterback Peyton Manning, whose 12 All-Star selections are the most for a quarterback in AFC-NFC Pro Bowl history. â€œBeing voted to the Pro Bowl by your opponents, their coaches and of course the fans means a great deal to me, especially when you consider how many other quarterbacks in the AFC had outstanding seasons. This recognition shows that our offensive line did a great job with protection. It shows that our wide receivers and tight ends made a lot of plays.â€
For the fourth consecutive year, the Pro Bowl will be played the week before the Super Bowl. The 2012 Pro Bowl on NBC was watched by an average of 12.5 million viewers, making it the most-watched All-Star game of any sport for the third consecutive year.
Last year, the AFC set a single-game Pro Bowl scoring record by defeating the NFC, 59-41. Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who had six catches for 176 yards with a Pro Bowl-record four touchdowns, was named the MVP of the 2012 Pro Bowl. The 2013 game is the 43rd between the AFC and NFC All-Stars with the all-time series tied, 21-21.
The 43-man teams are comprised of 21 offensive and 17 defensive players plus five specialists, including a long snapper.Â The AFC All-Star team will be led by John Fox and the coaches from the Denver Broncos while Mike McCarthy and the Green Bay Packersâ€™ coaching staff will guide the NFC Pro Bowl squad for the second consecutive year.
The NFL is the only professional sports league that combines voting by fans, coaches and players in determining its All-Star teams. The consensus vote of each group counts one-third towards the total. Each team submits two ballots â€“ those of the coach and the players with no one permitted to vote for a player on his own team. This year, more than 100 million fan votes were cast on NFL.com and mobile devices.
Under terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each player on the winning Pro Bowl team receives $50,000, while each player on the losing squad earns $25,000.
The Pro Bowl was held consecutively from 1980 to 2009 at Honoluluâ€™s Aloha Stadium, moved to Sun Life Stadium in South Florida in 2010 and then returned to Hawaii in 2011.
It has been a banner year for offenses across the National Football League, thanks in part to high-flying passing attacks led by some of the gameâ€™s best quarterbacks. The 2013 Pro Bowl roster will feature two record-setting QBs â€“ New Orleansâ€™ Drew Brees, who became the first player in NFL history to throw 40+ TD passes in consecutive seasons and Denverâ€™s Peyton Manning, whose 12 All-Star selections are the most ever by a quarterback in AFC-NFC Pro Bowl annals.
For the second time in Pro Bowl history â€“ and the second time in as many years â€“ this yearâ€™s game will feature two rookie quarterbacks, Indianapolis' Andrew Luck (AFC) and Seattle's Russell Wilson (NFC). Luck passed for an
NFL-rookie record 4,374 yards this season, surpassing Carolina QB Cam Newtonâ€™s mark of 4,051 set last year. Wilson had 26 touchdown passes in 2012, tying Peyton Manningâ€™s rookie record from 1998. In 2012, Newton and Cincinnatiâ€™s Andy Dalton became the first pair of rookie QBs ever to play in the same Pro Bowl.
Other quarterbacks taking part in the game include Eli Manning of the New York Giants, who became the franchise leader in career TD passes this season (211) and Houston's Matt Schaub, winner of the 2010 Pro Bowl MVP award.Â Â
Defense is not the name of the game as rules for the Pro Bowl are a lot tighter than regular season, such as no zone defenses,Â which means that if you're an offense junkie, this game's for you! High scores have been a recent trend at the Pro Bowl and in fact, the nine highest combined scores in Pro Bowl history have all occurred since 2000, including 100 points last year, the second-highest in Pro Bowl history.
Here are some of the rules for the Pro Bowl
The game is played under regulation NFL rules with the following exceptions:
(1) On offense, no motion or shifting will be used. The offense must have a tight end in all formations and canâ€™t have 3 receivers on a side. However, the tight end can be flexed off the line of scrimmage. Intentional grounding will not be called when a quarterback throws the football forward toward the line of scrimmage in an effort to save a loss of yardage. Also, a quarterback can stop the clock deliberately to save time, if, upon receiving the snap from center, he begins a continuous motion and throws the ball forward in the direction of the line of scrimmage.
(2) A standard 4-3 defense with even spacing (no gap) must be used. Line slants are permissible but there will be no other pass rush tactics (in other words, no blitzing). All linebackers must line up in a two-point stance, except in goal-line or short-yardage situations when outside linebackers can be in a three-point stance.
(3) Pass coverage:
(a) Man-for-man with a free safety will be used with no bump and run (except when the ball is inside the opponentâ€™s 5-yard line);
(b) A three-deep zone with a strong safety rotation only;
(c) In a balanced formation, the rotation of the zone can be to either side;
(d) 5 or 6 defensive backs are prohibited in all defenses;
(e) Blitzing by both outside linebackers from the outside is permissible only in short yardage situations (third and 2, fourth and 1, etc.) and in goal-line situations (any down inside the 5-yard line).
4) Kicking game:
(a) May rush 6 players on a punt block, 3 on each side;
(b) may rush 7 players on field goal or conversion blocks (nose tackle and 3 on each side).
(5) No side agreements by the coaches are permitted.
(6) Violations will be reviewed and disciplinary action taken at the discretion of the Commissioner.
Confusing, isn't it?
The highest combined scores in Pro Bowl history:
YEAR - WINNER (PTS.), LOSER (PTS.) = TOTAL POINTS
2004 - NFC (55), AFC (52) = 107
2012 - AFC (59), NFC (41) = 100
2011 - NFC (55), AFC (41) =Â 96
2000 - NFC (51), AFC (31) =Â 82
2010 - AFC (41), NFC (34) =Â 75
2008 - NFC (42), AFC (30) =Â 72
2002 - AFC (38), NFC (30) =Â 68
2003 - AFC (45), NFC (20) =Â 65
2005 - AFC (38), NFC (27) =Â 65
A pair of Denver Broncos â€“ quarterback Peyton Manning and cornerback Champ Bailey â€“ rank among the most frequent participants in Pro Bowl history and have made the trip to Honolulu once again in 2013.Â
Playing in his 12th All-Star Game, Bailey will tie Pro Football Hall of Famer Randall McDaniel and former Kansas City guard Will Shields for the most All-Star appearances in the history of the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl.
The players with the most Pro Bowl games played since 1971:
PLAYER - YEARS (PRO BOWLS)
Champ Bailey - Washington, 2001-04; Denver, 2005-08, 2010-13 (12)
Randall McDaniel - Minnesota, 1990-2000; Tampa Bay, 2001 (12)
Will Shields - Kansas City, 1996-2007 (12)
Peyton Manning - Indianapolis, 2000-01, 2003-09, 2011; Denver, 2013 (11)*
Tony Gonzalez - Kansas City, 2000-01, 2003-09; Atlanta, 2011-12 (11)**
Reggie White - Philadelphia, 1987-93; Green Bay, 1994, 1996-97, 1999 (11)**
Junior Seau - San Diego, 1992-2002 (11)*
Rod Woodson - Pittsburgh, 1990-95, 1997; Baltimore, 2000-02; Oakland, 2003 (11)
Lawrence Taylor - New York Giants, 1982-1991 (10)
Ronnie Lott - San Francisco, 1982-85, 1987-91; Los Angeles Raiders, 1992 (10)
Mike Singletary - Chicago, 1984-1993 (10)
Bruce Matthews - Houston, 1989-95, 1997; Tennessee, 2000, 2002 (10)****
Jerry Rice - San Francisco, 1987-88, 1990-94,1996, 1999; Oakland, 2003 (10)***
Ray Lewis - Baltimore, 1998-99, 2001-02, 2004, 2008-12 (10)**
Manning, who will play in his 11th Pro Bowl, not only owns several career and single-game Pro Bowl records, heâ€™s significantly ahead in many of those categories. Manning holds the following Pro Bowl records (next closest player in parentheses):
Attempts, Career: 184 (Dan Fouts, 120)
Completions, Career: 109 (Dan Fouts, 63)
Completions, Game: 22 (Joe Theismann, 21)
Passing Yards, Career: 1,508 (Dan Fouts, 890)
Passing Yards, Game: 342 (Dan Fouts, 274)
Highest Average Gain, Career: 8.20 yards per attempt; min. 50 attempts (Rich Gannon, 8.19)
Passing Touchdowns, Career: 14 (Rich Gannon, 7)
As far as the college ranks go...
Six players each from Georgia, Miami (FL) and Tennessee have been named to the 2013 Pro Bowl roster, tied for the most among college programs.Â
Below is a breakdown of schools with at least five players named to the 2013 Pro Bowl squads:
COLLEGE and 2013 PRO BOWL PLAYERS (Number)
Georgia - DT Geno Atkins, CB Champ Bailey, WR A.J. Green, LB Justin Houston, CB Tim Jennings, K Blair Walsh (6)
Miami Florida - RB Frank Gore, WR Andre Johnson, C Chris Myers, S Ed Reed, WR Reggie Wayne, DT Vince Wilfork (6)
Tennessee - S Eric Berry, P Dustin Colquitt, RB Arian Foster, QB Peyton Manning, LB Jerod Mayo, TE Jason Witten (6)
California - ST Lorenzo Alexander, S Thomas DeCoud, TE Tony Gonzalez, RB Marshawn Lynch, QB Aaron Rodgers (5)
Texas - RB Jamaal Charles, K Phil Dawson, LB Derrick Johnson, DT Henry Melton, S Earl Thomas (5)Â
If you're going to Honolulu, you might want to invest in sunscreen and a really ugly Hawaiian shirt. You can purchase tickets to the 2013 Pro Bowl at www.NFL.com/probowl or www.ticketmaster.com. Fans may also call 1-800-745-3000 or visit the Aloha Stadium box office.Â
The series is even at 21-21 and the AFC won last year's contest by a final of 59-41. This year, the AFC is a 1 point favorite with the over/under at 83 1/2. As far as picks for last week, 0-2 [ )=:], which means we're 179-91 for the season. Going with the upset here, kids. NFC gets revenge from last year (even though they may not win the Super Bowl next week in the Big Easy) and takes the win and covers the 1.
*Also selected but did not play in one additional gameÂ
**Also selected but did not play in two additional gamesÂ
***Also selected but did not play in three additional gamesÂ
****Also selected but did not play in four additional games