After beating the New England Patriots and Arizona Cardinals respectively last weekend, the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers are preparing for the Super Bowl – but still have over a week to wait until locking horns in one of the world’s biggest sporting events.
To fill the void in the weekend before the Super Bowl, a host of stars from the rest of the NFL will take part in the Pro Bowl; a casual game to recognize the best performers of the campaign.
Unfortunately for the NFL, an unprecedented number of players have pulled out of this year’s Pro Bowl match. 47 NFL stars have rejected the chance to play in the Pro Bowl, meaning that the total number of players invited to play has now reached 133, with all seven of the voted New England Patriots player declining the game after a long season.
Still, the NFL is attempting to make the game fun and ultimately watchable, and is sticking with the recent draft format for selecting the two teams. Legends Michael Irvin and Jerry Rice take it in turns to pick from the available players, and then pit their sides against each other in Hawaii on Saturday evening.
Irvin had the first pick and plumped for Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, whilst he also has other stars such as St. Louis Rams running back Todd Gurley, Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones and Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman on his side.
Meanwhile, Jerry Rice made New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning his first pick of the draft, meaning both team captains unsurprisingly went with QB’s as their first selections. Rice also added Minnesota Viking running back Adrian Peterson, Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews to his ranks.
These matches tend to be high-scoring affairs, as only once since 2010 has there been fewer than 50 points scored in the game, with the 2012 edition ending with 100 points on the board between the two teams.
There may be fewer stars than planned after all the rejections, but this should be a fine warm-up to the Super Bowl next week, with a more casual offering of American football in store for supporters this weekend.
OLLY DAWES is a Sports Management graduate and sports journalist for Here Is The City, whilst he also writes about NFL for Colts Authority.